Paulina Quintao – The National Director for Meteorology at the Ministry of Transport and Communication, Terencio Fernandes Moniz, said based on the changing weather patterns in Timor-Leste and the effects of El Nino, even though weaker than in previous years, rain fall will be affected until December 2018.
He said this situation has raised cause for warning the public about a 70% chance of a weak El Nino affecting rain patterns in Timor-Leste, with the government also preparing conditions to respond to any adverse impacts that may occur.
He said his directorate will continue to update information about weather conditions due to the possibility of an extended dry season until 2019.
"A weak El Nino means low volume and inconsistent rainfall, and those areas experiencing low rainfall will feel the impact of this situation," he said in his office, in Kaikoli, Dili.
He said El Nino will have the greatest impact in the areas of the North Coast, including Oe-Cusse, Liquisa, Dili, Manatuto, and the coastal areas from Baucau to Lautem.
He said El Nino will likely not affect the mountain or high range areas because these areas are able to create their own local climate conditions including rainfall.
He added low levels of rainfall will also affect areas of neighbouring Indonesia.
He added, the El Nino weather pattern is caused because the sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean rise to above-normal levels causing weak rain production and affecting winds direction causing heavy rain fall in certain areas of the pacific and east pacific, including potential flooding, while other areas, including Timor-Leste, will experience limited rainfall.
Poor rainfall affects greatly farmers who will experience water shortages for their crops and livestock so he urges the relevant ministries to create a water conservation programs to mitigate impacts to food security in Timor-Leste.
He also asked the government to invest in the meteorology and geophysics areas, with systems and the equipment to facilitate their services, to analyse world weather patterns including the weather across Timor-Leste.
On the other hand, the Minister of Agriculture and Fishery (MAF), Joaquim Gusmao dos Reis Martins, said the government intends to increase the country's food production and reduce the need to import goods, but warns the government continues to face several challenges.
He warned the El Nino will have a strong impact on the country's food production, and will contribute to food insecurity.
He added that data already shows that Timor-Leste with a population of 1,167,242 inhabitants, that some 430,000 or 36% of the total population already suffers from food insecurity.
"We have the data of the community who is suffering from food insecurity and are making integrated interventions," he said.
He said the country's production is affected by climate change, and this extended dry season caused by the El Nino will influence the country's food production.
On the other hand, the President of Authority for Ermera Municipality, Jose Martinho said the community in Ermera has felt the impact of climate change, with water shortages during the dry season.
"In this dry season, we have experienced water shortages and we need high volumes of water," he said.
He added all the sukus in Ermera municipality have access to the clean water, but in the dry season only some people have access because of water shortages.