DILI, 25 october 2023 (TATOLI) – Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Ministry of Public Works (MoPW) discuss building climate resilience infrastructure in TL.
During the meeting, Stefania Dina, ADB’s Country Director in Timor-Leste expressed ADB’s commitment to supporting the country in building its climate resilience infrastructure and increasing adaptive capability to climate change.
It’s important to build Timor-Leste’s adaptive capability and resilience as many roads and bridges in Timor-Leste are at risk of flooding and damage from climate-related risks and extreme events, including flooding, landslides, and so on. Both flash flooding and landslides are the most frequent type of disasters impacting Timor-Leste as witnessed during extreme rainfall events like Tropical Cyclone SEROJA in apirl 4, 2021.
Dina recalled that tropical cyclone SEROJA caused around US$300 million in damage or about 20 percent loss of GDP in Timor-Leste: “The heavy rains in 2020 and 2021 triggered serious damages to some sections of completed ADB and other donor-funded roads in the country.”
“It is expected that in the future climate risk will further increase with climate change. According to climate models, there are indications that the onset of the rainy season may be delayed, with increased rainfall occurring during a shorter rainy season. It is also expected there will be larger increases in extreme rainfall towards the end of the century,’’ Dina told reporters at Timor Hotel.
Dina stressed in order to ensure building climate-resilient infrastructure in Timor-Leste needs
Dina stressed that in order to develop the country’s adaptation and resilience to climate change, it is necessary to identify, review, and analyze the typical causes of damage to roads and bridges caused by extreme rainfall events caused by climate change.
She said that adaptation to climate change must be considered in road design and construction methods, adding that increasing the capacity of Timorese engineers in terms of adaptation and resilience to climate change is also crucial for building climate-resilient infrastructure in the country.
Since, 2000, ADB has been the leading development partner for the road sector. With a cumulative funding of US$370 million invested in the sector, ADB has supported the government of Timor-Leste to rehabilitate and upgrade over 460 km of the road network, mainly covering the northern coast and two north-to-south connections.
ADB is planning to further extend its support to improve roads in the east and in the south of the country, in line with the government program’s priorities.
Thus, infrastructure built over the next decades will operate under very different climate conditions compared to today. In other words, climate change will fundamentally alter the context in which infrastructure, especially infrastructure with longer design life such as roads, is planned, financed, designed, implemented, and operated.
Understanding climate risk needs to be a key basis for designing, implementing, and maintaining road infrastructure in order to ensure that roads can continue to provide services and connect remote communities despite of increasing climate risk.
Improved land use planning, update of construction codes, strengthening budget for operations and maintenance, and better early warning systems – all will be important for building resilience of the road sector.
So far, ADB has committed to becoming the “Asia and the Pacific’s Climate Bank” and has planned to invest US$100 billion in climate finance by 2030, doubling its support for climate adaptation.
Given Timor-Leste’s high vulnerability to climate change, ADB provided technical assistance support to assess the climate impact on Timor-Leste’s road sector and identify appropriate climate adaptation measures.
Timor-Leste is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. Together with the Government of Timor-Leste and the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL), ADB is conducting a study to examine climate adaptation measures in the road sector.
ADB’s study and projects will boost the resilience of Timor-Leste’s transportation infrastructure, helping protect lives and livelihoods from harsh climate change impacts.
Vice-Minister for Infrastructure, Júlio do Carmo the government of Timor-Leste would ensure quality infrastructure development to increase the country’s ability to withstand climate change.
Carmo said that the government will strengthen its adaptation and resilience by guaranteeing quality infrastructure in the country.
He said that extreme weather events, especially heavy rains, can affect the lifespan of infrastructure, adding that the government will take appropriate approaches to manage the risks posed by climate change in the construction of infrastructure in Timor-Leste.
Journalist: José Belarmino De Sá
Editor: Filomeno Martins