Local NGOs and communities are working together to address climate risks

Aug 28, 2017

NGO NETIL constructed 31 water taps for Mota Ulun village in Liquiça.

At a workshop held on 22 June 2017, seven local NGOs presented their progress on watershed management (protecting regions drained by rivers) and complementary soil bioengineering interventions (such as planting) implemented in Liquiça Municipality, Ermera and Baucau Municipal Authorities from January-June 2017. The seven NGOs are Fundasaun Hader, Mankledu, SAVI, Fundasaun Malaedoi, NETIL (Liquiça), Timor Verde (Baucau) and IMI (Ermera) that were awarded micro-capital grants by UNDP SSRI project.

 “This workshop is important to all of us in order to transfer and share knowledge with each other,” said Mr. Jose Belo, Assistant Country Director and Head of Resilience Unit, in his remarks. He added that NGOs need to improve their work by exploring more innovative ways apart from planting trees so as to see different types of activities that are applicable in Timor-Leste by using local materials to build resilience against climate and natural disasters.

NGO NETIL rehabilitated a water supply system in Mota Ulun village, Liquiça, benefitting more than 36 households. Ms. Antonia Alves de Jesus, one of the beneficiaries of Aldeia Claso said that the water is used for cooking, washing and for their garden. “Before we didn’t get water and couldn’t plant, now that we get water, we can plant our garden and also water for the animals,” she said.

In addition, the NGOs engage with the local authorities and communities, showing them how to protect the environment and existing rural infrastructure through information sharing, awareness raising, and community consultation. They also used “Tara Bandu”, a traditional law to prohibit any action that can harm people and the environment.

NETIL held a “Tara Bandu” ceremony  in Mota Ulun village on April 28, 2017 to  prohibit all community members from destroying the environment, thus protecting approximately 15 hectares in the village, including Aldeia Claso, Mauluta and Mota Ulun. Mr. Paulino Francisco, Director of NETIL said they always tried to convince the community to participate because some of the community members are not aware nor understand how to protect the environment, so they cut trees and release their animals everywhere. Ms. Albertina da Conceicao from Aldeia Claso said, “As part of the community in Mota Ulun village, we are happy and it is very good to have this Tara Bandu to let us respect each other, respect environment and respect properties.”

Community engagement is key to successful implementation, thus NGO Timor Verde is working with the community  in Osoala village, Baucau, to help build resilience by planting trees along the riverside and roads, and building check dams to protect rural infrastructure. “We always involve man, women, youth and also some disabled people. They cannot see but they have hands to work. They cannot speak but they can work. We involve all of them,” said Director Ms. Eliza dos Santos.

 “When we give well explanation, cooperate with them (community) well, and with the authority well, they would agree with the programme and can continue involving the communities,” said Mr. Moizes Charles, Director of NGO IMI.

However, climate and weather related events posed significant challenges during their implementation. “Natural disaster, heavy rain and landslide are something out of people control,” said Mr. Marcos Ramos, Director of Fundasaun Malaedoi. To respond to this, he said, “There must be sustainability. We will gather the community to establish nurseries, so that their plants will not die in the next one or two years after our closing, there will be people to continue to plant.”

In July 2017, the NGOs are expected to finalise their activities with a sustainability plan and handover to communities.

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