Local well changes Emilia's life

Local well changes Emilia's life

UNDP staff, including Country Director Mikiko Tanaka (left, blue cap) and district adminisration staff examine one of the new wells in Oecusse
UNDP staff, including Mikiko Tanaka, Country Director (left, blue cap) and José Tanesib Anuno, Oecusse District Administrator (third from right) examine one of the new wells in Oecusse. Photo Sandra Magno/UNDP TL

Oecusse – Emilia Taninas smiles as she watches a small crowd of people peer into a large, 12-meter hole in front of her house. A plastic bucket is pulled up from the darkness on the end of a piece of rope and clean, clear water spills from the sides. (Lee versaun Tetum iha ne'e)

This well, installed in 2012, has just radically changed Emilia’s life.


  • Twenty-one local infrastructure projects in Oecusse and Ermera districts were built under UNDP's COMPASIS project.
  • Each project was overseen by the local district administration contracted under the local development programme within the Ministry of State Administration.
  • In addition to benefiting local communities, the projects are an example of good collaboration between the local and national authorities.

“I am so happy, this is like a dream,” says Emilia, 38. “For many, many years I have walked three times a day to collect water and now I can see a well almost on my doorstep.”

Emilia, who lives in Oecusse, Timor-Leste’s remote enclave in Indonesian West Timor, used to spend three hours a day walking to the river with jerry cans to collect water for cooking, cleaning, drinking and washing. Her three children would accompany her, each carrying smaller water containers.

But the new well has put an end to these long hours of walking.

“Now I can use the water every day, I can wash my children, give them safe water to drink and I have all these extra hours to grow food for my family,” says Emilia.

Emilia’s household is just one of 45 which are benefiting from this well.

A few kilometers down the road, Silvester Tabnaz is also making use of a new water supply in his community.

“I used to drink dirty water from old wells because there was no alternative close by,” he says. “Now we have access to this near our homes, it makes all the difference.”

“Clean water is a source of happiness for us, it helps prevent disease,” he says.

Silvester and Emilia’s communities are among nine in Nitibe and Pasabe sub-districts, in which bridges, primary schools, irrigation systems and wells have been built.

A further 13 projects are underway in Ermera district.

Together, these 21 projects form part of a UNDP-supported infrastructure component, within the Community Mobilization for Poverty and Social Inclusion in Service Delivery (COMPASIS) project. The project is financed by the UN Human Security Trust Fund, with contributions from Japan and Thailand.

Each of projects is being overseen by the local district administration and was contracted under the local development programme within Timor-Leste’s Ministry of State Administration.

Oecusse District Administrator, José Tanesib Anuno said the projects will benefit the local communities and are an example of good collaboration between the local and national authorities.

“These infrastructure projects are possible due to the active participation of the district administration and assembly and communities” said Mikiko Tanaka, UNDP Country Director. “I am very pleased that across the sub-districts five-thousand community members will directly benefit from these projects.”

For Emilia, the well in front of her home has had another unexpected benefit.

“Before the new well was here, I would return home late because I had to walk so far every day,” she says. “Now I am home to greet the family and can spend proper time with my husband and children in the evenings. Our family relationships are stronger. The well has made this possible.”


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