Timor-Leste Flood Disaster Response and Assessment of Water Storage and Delivery Systems


In 2020, Timor-Leste adopted a new water supply law and policy with the central objective to deliver widespread and equitable access to potable water. The Government of Timor-Leste (GoTL) plans to build and/or upgrade water supply systems in up to 41 administrative posts (former subdistricts).

The GoTL requested technical assistance from the Australian Government in in early 2021. Through the support of the Australian Water Partnership (AWP), Similie undertook an initial assessment of the proposed investment.

On 4 April 2021, Timor-Leste experienced an extreme flooding event on a scale not seen since the 1960s due to torrential rainfall. A large proportion of the country’s population was impacted by these floods with up to 14,000 people in official emergency evacuation centres in its immediate aftermath and many more displaced locally. In Dili, up to 60 percent of houses were damaged and over 31,000 families were affected, with 45 fatalities.

In response to the floods, GoTL requested Australia’s support to strengthen their flood response management. The initial activity on water systems assessment was re-scoped to include the adoption of digital technology, training, mentoring, helpdesk support and coordination of stakeholder engagement to assist in the response.


The activity had four key objectives:

  1. To provide technical support to the GoTL and Civil Protection on data collection and surveys in response to the floods in Dili and other districts (Civil Protection are responsible for the Government’s response to natural disasters and are the focal point in Government for collecting data to understand the impact of natural disasters across Timor-Leste, and for managing the response).
  2. To provide a technical assessment and recommendations on the GoTL’s planned investment in the water storage supply and systems across the administrative posts of Timor-Leste.
  3. Provide recommendations which AWP and the water team at the Australian Embassy in Dili could use to inform a formal scoping study on the investment, to better guide the Australian Government’s response.
  4. Provide guidance on climate resilient water and sanitation and water resource management planning tools, and how these could be applied to the water storage and delivery program in Timor-Leste.


In supporting the Dili flood response, Similie trained over 500 government and international agency staff on the KoBo Toolbox application, which is a free digital platform designed to support data collection for coordinated humanitarian responses. This application was used to conduct a national multi-sectorial assessment and household assessments throughout Dili.

Similie also trained and mentored staff from the National Disaster Operations Center (NDOC) on KoBo Toolbox and data management. Data dashboards were created using Google Data Studio to quickly show the Government and their partner organisations important information collected during the assessments. Once distribution was underway, Similie and AWP continued their support by providing NDOC with training on creating digital surveys and dashboards.

A technical brief was submitted to the AWP and water team at the Australian Embassy in July 2021 which provides an assessment of the Administrative Post Water Supply Program proposed by the GoTL. The assessment found that there were several key areas that required further attention, which were provided to the water team to discuss further. Additionally, the assessment outlined options for future engagement, risks, and opportunities for the Australian Government in the Timor-Leste water sector, and the water storage and systems project.



Government of Timor-Leste’s adoption of digital technology strengthens flood response

Timor-Leste recently adopted a new water supply law and policy with the central objective to deliver universal and equitable access to potable water. The Government of Timor-Leste plans to build and/or upgrade water supply systems in up to 41 Administrative Posts (or sub-district capitals). In 2020, the Government requested technical assistance from the Australian Government. […]

Outcomes from the Regional Dialogue on Water Scarcity and Floods

A Regional Dialogue on Responding to the Challenges of Water Scarcity and Floods in South Asia was held in Bangkok, Thailand, on 10–11 December 2018. The Regional Dialogue provided an opportunity for participants to exchange information generated through research and practice, and share experience gained from projects and programs on effective responses to water scarcity […]

Program Lead

Similie Pty Ltd
Craig McVeigh


South-East Asia




Australian Embassy in Dili, Timor-Leste






Complete (Jan–Aug 2021)


  • Government of Timor-Leste:
    • Department of Disaster Preparation, Prevention and Mitigation
    • National Directorate for Disaster Risk Management
    • Civil Protection in the Ministry of Interior
    • Bee TL, Water Supply Agency
  • Australian Embassy in Dili, Timor-Leste


  • Oxfam
  • International Organisation for Migration



  • Catchments and River Basins