The ERA-AF project funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the ILO seeks to provide market linkages to agro-forestry communities through enhanced road access to the rural agro-forestry communities in the eastern part of Timor-Leste comprising of Baucau, Manatuto, Viqueque and Lautem municipalities. Besides the market linkages to agro-forestry communities, the project also provides much needed employment creation through employment intensive investment approaches used in rehabilitating the roads and the resulting income support that provides for livelihood.
Beforehand, the village was very isolated since the road was not even accessible by motorbikes... But now, the villagers are also able to transport their produces with vehicles to the market"Albino Soares, the Chief of Hohorai Village
“Beforehand, the village was very isolated since the road was not even accessible by motorbikes,” explained Albino Soares, the Chief of Hohorai Village. “…But now, even though the project is still continuing, there are already cars passing through the road carrying goods sold to the villagers, and the villagers are also able to transport their produces with vehicles to the market”, he added.
Seeing the benefits to his community, the Chief asserted his commitment to collaborate with the project and the contractor to assist and monitor their works guaranteeing the road quality.
The project has also provided employment to more than 4,024 workers, for which 30 percent women participation is targeted, together with inclusiveness of people with disabilities and youth working along the road communities.
One of the workers who has benefited from the employment opportunities is Armindo Maia Reis, 53 years old and a widower with seven children under his wings. He told his very sad story in which two years ago in 2019, he fell off from the roof while constructing a house, which broke his arms. As a result, he could not work for six months.
The short-term ERA-AF employment opportunity has provided Armindo and others a lifeline and brought hope to vulnerable families who struggle to sustain themselves."
Armindo emphasised that, “I won’t beg, but I can work and I am willing to work anywhere to support the education of my children and to sustain the livelihood of my family”. The short-term ERA-AF employment opportunity has provided Armindo and others a lifeline and brought hope to vulnerable families who struggle to sustain themselves.
The project also promotes inclusiveness among the vulnerable youth, women, and people with disabilities. As part of the project efforts of promoting inclusiveness, the project has awarded 34 contracts to local construction companies, of which 50 percent of the contracts awarded are women owned firms, which is above the 30 percent target. Proudly, many among the 50 percent women owned firms are among the best performers in the project implementation.
The project continuously highlights on its commitment of promoting decent work as demonstrated in the various social safeguards that have been adopted in line with decent work principles, ensuring dignity as a social protection intervention for the vulnerable including youth and children.
To enable the road rehabilitation to be implemented using employment intensive approaches, while complying to the necessary standards and specifications, Contractors, Engineers and Supervisors attended a structured and comprehensive 10 weeks classroom and field training programme related to Construction of Rural Roads using Labour Based Methods, Pavement Construction, Maintenance, Site Training, Contracts and Business Management.
Having finished his studies in 2014 and worked for several years, he participated in the ERA-AF training on “Labour Based Road Programmes” in 2018 and was able to apply the knowledge in Baguia, Baucau Municipality and presently in Hohorai. Sergio, a father of two children further elaborated, “I received training and was sent to work on sites accompanied by field coaches from ERA-AF who did motivate and guide me to work well and diligently in complying to specified instructions”.