The European Union and National Authorising Officer visit Lariguto-Builale road linking agro-forestry communities of Timor-Leste

The European Union (EU) supports ERA Agro-Forestry Project which provides sustainable livelihoods and access to markets to Timor-Leste’s rural agro-forestry communities through road access.

Press release | Viqueque Municipality, Timor-Leste | 31 July 2020
H.E. Andrew Jacobs, Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Timor-Leste, and Deputy National Authorising Officer (NAO), Dr. Ivo Valente, visited and met with the communities of Lariguto and Builale, during a field visit to the Lariguto-Builale road in Viqueque Municipality on 30 July 2020.

As the majority of people in Timor-Leste (over 70%) earn their livelihoods through some sort of farming activity, but with agro-forestry still remaining untapped, the EU is providing support in development of agro-forestry and rehabilitation of roads towards agro-forestry communities. This, besides enabling agro-forestry products to reach markets, provides communities with access to education, health and other essential services, so vital for development.

Larigutu – Builale road is a 9 km stretch implemented by the ERA Agro-Forestry project which is financed by the European Union as part of the Partnership for Sustainable Agro-Forestry (PSAF) Ai ba Futuru, and which seeks to improve livelihoods in agro-forestry communities. The road within Post Administrative Ossu Decima, off the Viqueque – Baucau road, will cost USD 574,703.17.

The road is being built as part of a capacity-building initiative, to train local contractors from Viqueque to rehabilitate and maintain roads, while creating employment. Besides improving road access, job opportunities are provided, local economies are stimulated, and the capacity of local entrepreneurs enhanced.

Further, women entrepreneurs are empowered. The use of labour-based approaches is promoted as it is cost-effective, creates employment, is environmentally friendly and uses locally available resources in a balanced and responsible manner, thus resulting in sustainable infrastructure.

Through the ERA Agro-Forestry Project, the EU will support the rehabilitation or construction of more than 77 kms of roads within agro-forestry rural communities in Baucau, Viqueque, Manatuto and Lautem Municipalities. This is being implemented through 34 contractors who will create about 235,000 worker-days of employment through 5,133 beneficiaries of whom 30 percent are expected to be women."

Four of the contractors who were trained by the project through Don Bosco Training Centre and IADE are implementing the works as part of trial contracts. The contractors include: Lolito Rakesi Unip.Lda. Uaitau Unip.Lda. Luminar Unip.Lda. and Tula Eli Unip.Lda. Two of the four companies are owned by women contractors, who are performing well.

Award of works to 50 percen companies owned by women, reflects the commitment of the EU towards gender equality, by providing women and men equal opportunities for employment. The company that has performed best is a woman contractor, further proving the strength of empowered women.

Contractors always face challenges, and the contractors in Larigutu-Builale are no different, as they have met delays attributed to adverse weather conditions, limited access to some material quarries, landslides, labour availability, and the two months work stoppage owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. The works on the ground started on 26 August 2019, and are now expected to be completed by 20 August 2020.

During the visit about 7 km of the 9 km to be constructed was found to have been implemented. The road has already contributed to community mobility as micro-lets are using the road so as to reach Builale, which was not previously accessible by public transport.

Ambassador Andrew Jacobs commended the contractors, who despite facing considerable challenges, have made tireless efforts to deliver the works which are in various stages of completion. In speaking with the community, the Ambassador recalled the long-standing partnership of EU with Timor-Leste and looked forward to the road contributing towards local development and poverty reduction. The Ambassador also urged the community and the municipality to maintain the road and ensure that the road will continue to achieve its intended function.

Through the ERA Agro-Forestry Project, the EU will support the rehabilitation or construction of more than 77 kms of roads within agro-forestry rural communities in Baucau, Viqueque, Manatuto and Lautem Municipalities. This is being implemented through 34 contractors who will create about 235,000 worker-days of employment through 5,133 beneficiaries of whom 30 percent are expected to be women.

Already about 55 kms have been awarded to 25 contractors who have been trained from Baucau, Viqueque and Manatuto. About 40 kms have been implemented which has provided 113,400 worker days of employment to about 2,500 workers with more than 500 of them being women. Of the 34 participating contractors, more than 57% are women-owned companies.

Enhancing Rural Access (ERA) Agro-Forestry Project is a component of the Partnership for Sustainable Agro-Forestry (PSAF) between Timor-Leste, the European Union (EU), Germany (GIZ) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The main objective is to contribute to a peaceful, inclusive and sustainable development in Timor-Leste through improved rural access, creation of employment, economic and domestic revenue opportunities through agro-forestry development, and a durable reduction in food insecurity and malnutrition in rural areas.