Climate Action Accelerated by Women Engineers
September 6, 2022
Felizita Da Conceciao Mendoza, 23-year-old, is an engineering student learning in a programme “Safeguarding Rural Communities and their Physical Assets from Climate-induced Disasters in Timor-Leste” supported by the government of Timor-Leste and UNDP Green Climate Fund (GCF) project. Felizita is one of five women in 27 engineering students in the GCF training programme. “I am working as a technical supervisor in the Ministry of Public in Aileu Municipality. My educational background is civil engineering, which motivated me to participate in this training programme” said Felizita.
The GCF training programme aims to promote nature-based solutions to climate change by equipping local engineers with bioengineering approaches. In collaboration with Ministry of State Administration, the Ministry of Public Works, and Don Bosco Training Center, 27 national engineers from five different municipalities with various technical backgrounds are developing their theoretical and practical knowledge and skills in agroforestry and soil bioengineering, which leverage sustainable approaches to prepare, respond and recover from climate-induced disasters. “The key to responding to climate change is to promote bioengineering. With the sustainable methods, we can find the best solution to reduce and prevent disaster impacts on infrastructures in Timor-Leste” addressed by Felizita. In fact, Timor-Leste has experienced disastrous heavy rain in 2021 and it resulted in flash floods and landslides nationwide. Infrastructures, especially public transportation and electricity, gas, and water supply system, were corrupted and countless households were heavily damaged by the hazards. As risks and impacts of natural disasters keep increasing due to climate change, substantial actions are urgently needed.
While women in the field of engineering face a challenge. “For female engineers, working at a construction site in a rural area is not easy, because it requires not only physical strength but also mental toughness. In general, the road condition to a rural construction site is bad, we carry heavy materials and work outside all day. Although it’s a tough job, we cheer up one another and I’m doing my best for my team” explained Felizita. “During the practice, we help each other. The most important thing in the GCF training programme is that we are gaining hands-on knowledge and skills at the construction site. Currently, we’re doing practices at road constructions in the rural area of Aileu municipality. I’m very excited about the upcoming training on the irrigation system, water supply, and flood protection. I believe that the wide range of training will help me to conduct an effective implementation of construction projects and will benefit the local communities in the future“.
After the GCF training programme, the engineers will join other construction sites supported by the GCF project. “We are offering opportunities not only to learn skills, but also to use skills that they have learned. This is a sustainable cycle to make a country better,” said UNDP Head of Climate Change and Environment Unit, Mr. Domingos Lequi Siga Maria. Together with the government and partner agencies, UNDP Timor-Leste strives to ensure gender equality and an inclusive society while promoting sustainable adaptation to climate change.
We cannot succeed when half of us are held backMalala Yousafzai