Self-help groups a lifeline for marginal families

09 Jun 2011

Oecusse – Maria Lafu is a 41-year-old mother of five who had been struggling to provide for her family and send her children to school until she joined a UNDP and UN-supported self-help group in Oecusse.

“I’ve always concerns about buying basic supplies to cook for my family, send my children to school and manage my house,” says Maria.

“But since I joined the women’s farmers’ group my family has been able to save some money and even obtain small credits to purchase new household items and livestock,” she says.

The Community Mobilisation for Poverty Alleviation and Social Inclusion in Service Delivery (COMPASIS) project has been working to protect extremely poor households in Ermera and Oecusse, focusing primarily on women farmers, widows, unemployed youth, returning IDPs, children and people with insecure food supplies.

UN, diplomatic and government representatives today visited Oecusse to see COMPASIS activities undertaken since the project started in March 2010.

The delegation included Vice-Minister for Economy and Development, Cristiano da Costa, UN Resident Coordinator, Finn Reske-Nielsen, Japan’s Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Iwao Kitahara and staff from district administrative offices in Oecusse and Ermera.

The delegation visited the Abani Health Centre, where the Ministry of Health and UNFPA are promoting family planning and reproductive health activities.

They also visited a literacy class supported by the Ministry of Education and UNICEF where teachers and some students explained their activities.

In addition, certificates were presented to 20 members of the Malelat self-help group.

“On behalf of the government of Timor-Leste I want to thank all of you who here today… From now on you can put into practice the skills you have learnt, in order to provide for your future,” said Vice-Minister da Costa.

In his remarks, Finn Reske-Nielsen thanked the governments of Japan, Slovenia and Thailand for their support to the project.

“This project started as an innovative initiative bringing together six UN agencies and all their expertise, in line with the Secretary General’s view of promoting One UN, while also highlighting the priorities and efforts from the Government of Timor-Leste, which has been active in the implementation of all the programme’s activities,” he said.  
The project is funded by the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, supported by the Governments of Japan, Slovenia and Thailand and implemented by the Government of Timor-Leste through UNDP, FAO, ILO, UNFPA and UNICEF.