Timor-Leste and Lao PDR exchange experience on climate resilience

May 18, 2017

The Timor-Leste team met UNDP Lao PDR. Ms. Kaarina Immonen (third from left), UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Lao PDR highlighted the benefits of exchanging best practices from Timor-Leste and Lao PDR in the spirit of setting up new avenues of South-South cooperation.

A delegation comprised of representatives from the Government of Timor-Leste and UNDP visited Lao PDR on February 6-10, 2017 to exchange experiences on the planning and implementation of climate resilient rural infrastructure. 

This visit was designed to foster the exchange of experience and information among two countries that are both benefitting from the GEF (Global Environment Facility) to support the planning and implementation of climate resilient rural infrastructure. This visit provided an opportunity to share key lessons learned on how the countries are adapting and responding to challenges due to the impacts of climate change.

The project in Lao PDR (LDCF2) is focused on providing ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) measures within a watershed approach. This combination of “grey”, engineered adaptation measures and “green” ecosystem based adaptation measures is innovative and provides climate resilient measures and interventions in the wider catchment which promotes sustainability and resilience of the rural infrastructure.

In Timor-Leste, the approach of the SSRI project used is a combination of the hard (engineered structures) and soft (use of plants, vegetation and complementary soil- bioengineering) solutions to strengthen physical infrastructure such as roads, irrigation schemes and flood protection embankments. Reforestation activities are also undertaken in water catchment areas particularly for water supply systems.

While the LDCF2 project has similar components as the SSRI project, it focuses on strengthening local governance system in delivering rural infrastructure projects that are resilient to climate change. An important lesson learned from this project that is relevant to Timor-Leste is the active involvement and participation of local government at the provincial and district levels, good inter-ministerial collaboration, and effort made by the central government in revising manuals for planning and implementation of local development projects.

“When it comes to the central government, they are very collaborative, particularly these two important Ministries, Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs of Lao PDR,” said Mr Miguel Pereira de Carvalho, Director General of Urban Management of the Ministry of State Administration in Timor-Leste.

From his observation, he mentioned that Lao PDR manages to mainstream the climate change issues into the governance system at both the central and local government levels. “When they build a project, they think about not only planning to get this project done, but also what are the impacts caused by the climate change issues on the project,” he said.

He gave an example in Lao PDR that the community planted trees at the newly constructed water source to make sure the water will not dry up in one or two years but will be available for long term. “This is something Timor need to follow and I think that’s been a very important lesson for the group so far,” he added.

Mr Devindranauth Bissoon, the Project Manager for the UNDP SSRI Project, said it was very useful to learn how greater local ownership was created in Lao PDR by directly involving communities in the construction process, and how to ensure the sustainability of investments in new infrastructure.

“In one water supply project we learned that the beneficiaries have established a committee that is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the system. Fees are collected from households based on the consumption. The monies in the fund provide for the operation and maintenance expenditure,” he added. “However, since there is surplus in the fund the committee established a revolving fund and householders can borrow for activities such as agriculture and education at interest rates that are less than 2%.”

The team of seven participants included the Director General for Urban Management; Presidents of Baucau and Ermera Municipal Authorities; Administrator of Liquica Municipality; National Director and Head and Finance and Administration of DGOU, MSA and the Project Manager of the UNDP SSRI project.

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