A Ministry of Social Solidarity staff member with motorbikes donated by UNDP to the Ministry’s Mum's Pocket (Bolsa da Mae) initiative. Photo: Sandra Magno/UNDP TL. A Ministry of Social Solidarity staff member with motorbikes donated by UNDP to the Ministry’s Mum's Pocket (Bolsa da Mae) initiative. Photo: Sandra Magno/UNDP TL

UNDP’s programmmes focus on alleviating poverty by building up a range of skills at both the national and local levels, insuring government partners, community groups and individuals possess the know-how to reduce poverty and build and maintain sustainable livelihoods.

UNDP is strengthening microfinance institutions and enhancing banking literacy in rural areas, helping people to set up small businesses or save their money securely. We also provide policy assistance to the Ministry of Social Solidarity in delivering social protection payments that are transparent and accountable. By strengthening the processes of identifying, registering and paying beneficiaries, the children of the most vulnerable female-headed households are receiving primary education and regular vaccinations.

Self-help groups established in 17 remote villages are helping more than 1,300 people become more financially independent and food secure through the use of internal group savings and credit schemes. This in turn reduces the likelihood of turning to informal, high-interest money lenders when unforeseen expenses arise. Other self-help groups in the country’s Oecusse enclave are receiving post-harvest, home garden and livestock training and business trainings, and are participating in food-for-work schemes. In these same remote areas, access to clean water has improved with the rehabilitation of small scale rural infrastructure such as irrigation channels, bridges and water wells.

A conditional cash transfer scheme focusing on education and health services is helping to improve the lives of Timorese women and girls. UNDP, in partnership with five other UN agencies, is providing technical assistance to this Ministry of Social Solidarity programme. This includes the development of a database of current beneficiaries to reduce duplication, drafting a legal framework to ensure sustainability, impact analysis including feedback from participants, and the development of innovative methods of payments and the delivery of health and education services.

Since its establishment in August 2006, the Pro-Poor Policy unit has been conducting high-quality research into the causes and consequences of poverty, disseminating its findings, and providing the government with advice on pro-poor planning and policy design. Based on our work, the Timor-Leste government has integrated some of the MDG targets and indicators into its policies, and established an MDG Secretariat for better coordination, planning and technical support to promote the attainment of the MDGs by 2015. The Unit also provides direct technical assistance to the Office of the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on economic matters, as well as technical support to specialized National Parliament commissions working on public finance and the economy.

UNDP’s newest initiative is exploring innovations in promoting social enterprises to mobilize private sector entrepreneurship to help reduce poverty in rural Timor-Leste and generate rural employment opportunities and income.