ISF, WaterAid Timor-Leste and the local NGO Fundasaun Hafoun Timor Lorosa’e (FHTL) teamed up from 30 September to 3 October 2019 in Dili to consider how the Water for Women program in support of inclusive WASH in rural Timor-Leste can be strengthened to respond to climate change impacts.

Group at conference1

Timor-Leste is no stranger to challenging climate impacts; effects of El Niño, which Timor-Leste regularly experiences, cause significant delays to the rainy season with devastating impacts on water availability. Climate change threatens to add to this pressure with soaring temperatures, more intense rainfall events, and unpredictable rainfall patterns. Meanwhile, inequitable institutions and social norms put some in harm’s way more than others.

WaterAid Timor-Leste and FHTL are keen to see how their processes for supporting community-driven solutions to inclusive water access can integrate considerations of climate change impacts. We saw that the field staff of each organisation is very knowledgeable about how climate hazards like floods and droughts affects the communities they work with – applying this knowledge to their program felt like a natural fit.

Roleplaying was a welcome and energising way to see how an explicit focus on climate change could become a coherent part of existing WASH program activities. WaterAid and FHTL staff acted out how they will introduce the activities which was helpful in refining how we approach the potentially daunting concept of climate change with communities.

The value of the inputs from WaterAid and FHTL staff on how we can learn about climate change impacts on inclusive WASH was readily apparent. From major decisions about which activities we would run with the community to our choice of words when we talk about climate change, collaboratively working across the perspectives of workshop participants with varying backgrounds helped to ensure that we designed activities that are better suited to generate learning opportunities and have practical value.

ISF, WaterAid and FHTL will trial the activities with communities in the coming weeks and are excited to see these ideas put into practice!