The climate crisis and its effects on water

2 min read
Justiliano, 9, collects water at the creek in Lesuata, Timor-Leste.
Image: WaterAid/Tariq Hawari

With our climate changing, we need to focus on finding solutions for water and climate. At WaterAid, we've been looking at how we can prepare for a more unpredictable world due to climate change, and the effect of this on global water supplies.

In Timor-Leste, WaterAid is working with nature to strengthen and increase the resilience of ecosystems in order to limit the impacts of climate change on water supplies. A specific issue in Timor-Leste is frequent and serious natural hazards including heavy rainfall, landslides, frequent floods as well as droughts, which are all getting worse due to climate change.

Rita Oliveira Goncalves and her son Henrique, 17, collecting water from the river in the dry season.
Rita Oliveira Goncalves and her son Henrique, 17, collecting water from the river in the dry season.
Image: WaterAid/Tariq Hawari

Over 70 per cent of Timor-Leste’s population is dependent on rain-fed agriculture, which can mean trouble when a small country like Timor-Leste faces these large problems.

In recent years, Timor-Leste has taken steps to improve its water management and adapt to climate change. One example is WaterAid and Permatil’s nature-based solutions (NbS) approach to rehabilitate, protect and revitalise community water resources in villages across Timor-Leste.

This project, which is a Water Resource Management (WRM) plan, involves planting trees around catchments to capture rainwater in the wet season. The captured rainwater then infiltrates into the ground and recharges neighbouring springs, which gives communities access to clean water in the dry seasons.

This helps communities in multiple ways, including ensuring food security, as the new availability of watering allows for stability in growing and selling, fruit and vegetables. In addition to this project, WaterAid also worked with Similie, a technology company based in Timor-Leste, which installed cloud-based water sensors to monitor water levels and flows within the springs over time.

The village chief of Loidahar, Mr Domingos dos Santos, one of the local representatives playing a critical role in the project said:

As a local leader, it’s my honour to benefit from this program which is supported by the Australian Government for piloting Water Resource Management in our village.”

This is a big step in the right direction for Timor-Leste, and with future prospects on the horizon, Mr dos Santos believes “in the next five years, the whole community will get enough water and there will be equitable water for everyone.”