The theme of this year’s commemoration, “Drought and Water Scarcity”, reflects the harsh reality that many countries face today, especially those that are developing. Many of these regions experience extensive periods of dry season and a lack of water that severely affects community livelihood. Timor Leste, as a small country in South East Asia, is one of these nations that is suffering from drought and water scarcity, issues that negatively impact agricultural production in the country.
The current condition of land degradation in Timor Leste is as follows: from the forest inventory report undertaken by the National Directorate of Forestry (NDF) and JICS in March 2013, it can be observed that the degradation of 1.7% p.a. over ten years (1999-2010) has led to the disappearance of approximately 338,473 ha (26%) of forest. As a response to this, the State Secretary for Forestry and Nature Conservation has its mandate, the Organic Law of the Fifth Constitutional Government, to promote reforestation on degraded land, support rural communities in developing nurseries, and commencing in 2015, to produce approximately one million seedlings per year.
As a nation that has ratified this Convention, Timor Leste has been carrying out its obligations to be actively involved in combating land degradation in the country. This can be seen from the following activities planned by the Secretariat of State for Forestry and Nature Conservation of Timor Leste, to mark the commemoration of the WDCD:
“1) Talk show or Interactive Dialogue with Stakeholders such as communities, local leaders, Government or International leaders, and NGOs dealing with land degradation and the environment.
2) Dissemination of information to community, local authorities, and students, through radio, television, leaflets, banners, and posters.
3) Sites preparation and production of seedlings that are to be planted in January 2014 as part of community awareness campaigns on the importance of protecting the earth.”
Note: This article has been summarized from the document titled “The Commemoration of Word Day to Combat Desertification in Timor Leste”, prepared by Mr. Mário Ribeiro Nunes, UNCCD Focal Point