Resilience in the
face of disaster

Natural disasters forever loom as a deadly threat in the steep, mountainous countryside of Timor-Leste.

Located near one of the most active tectonic plate boundaries in the world, the nation is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes, landslides, forest fires and floods. Unfortunately, this risk is not well understood or publicised in many communities.

Tony ZHANG Han is working to change this. Han is a UQ Rotary Peace fellow, who this year completed his eight-week applied fieldwork experience at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – Timor-Leste in Dili.

His role was to assist the overall project development and implementation of Phase III Disaster Risk Reduction through building community resilience, while also helping to set up village disaster management committees in five villages across two districts.

“This field experience in Timor-Leste has helped me understand the importance of disaster risk reduction in preventing loss of life and injury of vulnerable communities,” Han said.

“I have a new perspective on how to integrate disaster risk reduction into development projects, particularly in areas of farming and animal-rearing.”

The Rotary Foundation is this year celebrating its 100th anniversary, while the UQ Rotary Peace Centre is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

The UQ Rotary Peace Centre is part of a global program to advance research, teaching, practical training and knowledge on issues of international relations, conflict resolution and

It offers a tailored master’s degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, designed to have a practical effect on addressing international and regional conflicts.

Each year, the Rotary Foundation selects individuals from around the world to receive fully funded academic fellowships at a number of peace centres, including UQ. The Peace Fellows’ scholarships cover tuition and fees, board, transportation, and all internship and field-study expenses.

All UQ Peace Fellows undertake a minimum of eight-weeks applied fieldwork experience while studying.

For more information about the UQ Rotary Peace Centre, visit

Spotlight on Timor-Leste

12 UQ alumni from Timor-Leste.

12 UQ Research Projects involving Timor-Leste totalling more than $10.4 million and covering areas of Defence, agriculture and Triple P – Positive Parenting Program.

3 UQ Rotary Peace Fellows working in Timor-Leste in 2017.