Despite the recurring flooding in Dili, Timor-Leste’s capital city, the city’s response to mitigate the risk and prepare for the extreme event has been an ongoing work-in-progress.
The Interpreter reports that the heavy rains between 29 March to 4 April have caused flooding and landslides, claimed more than 40 lives, displaced thousands, and destroyed critical infrastructures like bridges and roads.
The article says that the city has not fully recovered from the previous year’s flooding on 13 March, producing many casualties and halted its activities.
According to the article, rather than reactive responses like dredging sediments from the river and repairing retaining walls along them, the government should combine these actions with a more long-term approach such as improving urban planning and addressing the factors that cause flooding in the first place.
Despite the city receiving international assistance to help them cope with disasters, the government needs to “invest in urban planning to guide the construction of more adequate and resilient infrastructure.”
The government also needs to prevent development in lowland areas that function as their water retention spaces, which happened in Caicoli, a section in the city center that they have developed for housing.
With urban planning as an integral solution to Dili’s flooding problems, the article presents the following recommendations:
- managing deforestation in upstream areas to reduce the river’s sedimentation,
- improving waste management and prevent waste disposals in the rivers,
- constructing adequate and integrated drainage systems,
- improving urban planning would regulate housing and infrastructure development in flood-prone areas and provide safe resettlement locations when necessary.
With climate change impacts continuing worldwide, the issue of urban flooding and the remedial planning and work required will continue to be an increasing part of long-term infrastructure management planning and risk management practice.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dili, Timor-Leste by Montgomery Lion via Flickr Creative Commons License. The photo has been cropped to match the website’s requirement.