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Women-Centered Disaster Resilience in Small Island Developing States - Timor-Leste

HOT Project



In this project, members of Feto Enginhera, women engineers of Timor-Leste, gained open mapping skills for resilience, which they communicated with different community members.

Background: Bolstering women engineers to address climate impacts in Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste is a small island developing state (SIDS) in Southeast Asia. Its mountainous topography, combined with seasons of heavy rainfall, makes it highly susceptible to floods, landslides, and other climate impacts. As is the case in other SIDS, women usually bear a disproportionate burden during these disaster events, and within this group, there are more vulnerable segments like girls or women with disabilities. Moreover, disaster response efforts often neglect their unique needs and roles, hindering their participation in risk mitigation activities.

As part of the Women-Centered Disaster Resilience in Small Island Developing States program, HOT partnered with Feto Enginhera (Tetun for “Women In Engineering), a locally-led group of volunteer women seeking to promote equal participation in the country’s engineering sector. With this project, they aimed to enhance women engineers’ open mapping skills by implementing initiatives tailored to the island’s specific challenges.

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Approach: Building skills for community resilience

The project organizers designed a two-phase capacity-building program for members of Feto Enginhera. During the first phase, they worked with the Association of Geographic Information System Group (G-SIG) and HOT’s Asia-Pacific Open Mapping Hub to organize a series of workshops on OpenStreetMap (OSM), HOT’s Tasking Manager, data visualization, OSM data use for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, and general Gender and Project Management topics.

SIDS-TimorLesteWorkshop.jpg First workshop: OSM Training - Remote Data Collection

For the second phase, the participants engaged in outreach activities in a school, three different communities in Timor-Leste, and a public workshop. During those sessions, the team distributed pre-assembled “Dignity Bags”, which contain products helpful for women and girls during emergencies, and shared information regarding Feto Enginhera and the challenges women face in engineering, women-centered Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), OSM, and emergency preparedness and response skills. Additionally, they engaged in a 3-day field data collection and analysis exercise, which allowed them to add 151 data entries to OpenStreetMap and to create maps identifying evacuation centers, building capacity, and infrastructure at risk for flooding. Finally, they presented the results of this analysis to eighteen participating communities.

SIDS-TimorLesteOutreach2.jpg Feto Enginhera members developed their public speaking skills by presenting the knowledge they gained during the workshops to members of different communities

Impact: Women’s geospatial skills increase disaster resilience

As a result of this project, there were:

116 3969 35
Women trained Buildings Mapped Km of Roads

"Over the past three days, my involvement as a Feto Enginhera in this project has been a source of pride, accompanied by valuable lessons. I acquired proficiency in using essential tools like Kobo collect, Kobo toolbox, and Q-GIS software, distinguishing this experience from my previous engagements. Despite challenging conditions under the sun, the unwavering commitment of the data collection team stood out, fostering a collaborative spirit across all services involved. This encompassed evaluating building capacities, identifying evacuation sites, and assessing building levels. The overarching goal was to integrate this comprehensive data into the OpenStreetMap platform, enhancing accessibility for future users. Through our collective efforts, we aimed to contribute meaningful information that facilitates disaster risk management for the benefit of the wider community"

— Flavia dos Santos Cruz (Data Collection team representative

"As the representative of the entire community, I express sincere appreciation for the volunteer service provided by Feto Enginhera in supporting our village. The data collected by your team, subsequently handed over to Metiaut village, has proven instrumental. Requests for this data have become routine, significantly benefiting our community."

— Mateus I. da Costa (Chief of Village Metiaut)

SIDS-TimorLesteResults.jpg Feto Enginhera reported the outcomes of the data collection activity to the Chief of the Village

What Happens Next?

As a result of this project, Feto Enginhera has identified the need to continue collaborative work to map Timor-Leste and invest in women’s skills to increase resilience in the face of climate impacts. They also identified key areas of improvement for similar projects, especially in assigning more time for the project’s overall duration and for workshops and training, which will allow for in-depth engagement and proficiency in the subject matter.


Photos by Feto Enginhera