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Nothing is Impossible A Strategy and Approach Toward Improvement of Food Security and Environment in the District of Oecusse, Timor Leste

Nothing is Impossible A Strategy and Approach Toward Improvement of Food Security and Environment in the District of Oecusse, Timor Leste Writer: Farida Budi Utami Contributor (Section 7-9): Wayan Tambun Editor: Wayan Tambun Translator: Ilya M. Moeliono Foto: Documentation of World Neighbors Design & Layout: Eni Widyastuti Production: June 2011 ISBN: 978-602-98116-3-6 Published by World Neighbors. This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of World Neighbors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

European Union


Nothing is Impossible. That is the title of this book which was chosen to illustrate a conviction to achievement. All achievements actually start from a conviction that whatever an individual aspires to can be achieved depending on the extend to which that conviction is engraved in somebody’s mind and heart, how it moves existing potentials, and how the strategy and effort is developed to obtain the dreams of success. This book is written to document the strategy and the approach to increasing food security developed by World Neighbors together with AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO, and FFSO in the rural-uplands of the District of Oecusse, Timor Leste. The documentation of this strategy and approach is considered necessary as material for reflection and to share our learnings with others. The heavy burden carried by the program implementers and the height of the targets to be achieved suggest that this is and has been quite an ambitious program. To improve the status of food security through a holistic approach, nearly all aspects of people’s lives need to be touched by the program. However, the strong will to achieve change has given raise to a positive militancy on the part of World Neighbors in cooperation with AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO, and FFSO and local community leaders to develop various innovative program strategies and approaches. A process of action and reflection has become a basic capital for program implementation. Small scale successes in one program area have also become a strong capital to expand the success to other program areas. Nearly all indicators stated in the program design have been fulfilled. There are even some indicators which surpassed its planned targets. Overall, viewed from an asset based perspective of development, World Neighbors and its four partner agencies have been successful in strengthen the assets of natural resources, human resources, social resources, and financial resources. World Neighbors has not done much intervention in the development of physical infrastructure, and as such the progress in this aspect is not given much attention in this text. Even so, World Neighbors still has a great deal to learn about how to increase the communities’ nutritional status, especially in regard to mothers and children under five. The increases in food production did not by themselves improve people’s nutrition. Even though people have developed adequate skills in processing nutritious food from locally available food stuffs, these skills are mostly used during meetings and trainings, and have not yet become a part of people’s daily lives at the family level. i

Four and one half year of the program’s implementation is not enough time to achieve massive changes. There are still many things to be done to realize changes in food security, health status, improvement of the environmental carrying capacity, people’s participation in development, and people’s welfare. However, whatever change has happened, is the contribution of World Neighbors together with AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO and FFSO. World Neighbors together with its four partners has established the foundations for the holistic program strategies and approaches to achieve food security, especially for upland communities. It is our hope that what World Neighbors with its four partner agencies has done could be a foundation and at the same time an inspiration for other stakeholders to bring the district of Oecusse and Timor Leste in general forward to a better, more dynamic and dignified life.

Wayan Tambun Program Coordinator World Neighbors, Timor Leste



The program entitled “From Hunger Toward Hope: Strengthening Community Capacity and Resilience for Food Security in Oecusse, Timor Leste” is an collaboration between World Neighbors and the European Union. In its implementation, World Neighbors has build program partnerships with AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO, and FFSO. This program could not have been carried out without the financial support of the European Union. Hence, World Neighbors extends its gratitude and appreciation to the European Union for its financial and other support so that the program could run quite well. The six month extension period which was granted by the European Union for the program’s implementation has given World Neighbors and its four partner agencies ample time to do more in the program area. The Oecusse District Government should be acknowledged and appreciated for various forms of support it has provided to the program, both during its assessment stage and its implementation. The statements of Mr. Domingos Maniquin (former District Development Officer) and Mr. Fransisco Marques (former District Administrator) in response to World Neighbors’ intention to work in Timor Leste at the time of its area assessment in September 2005 are still fresh in our minds. They stated that when we want to work in Timor Leste, we should start in Oecusse. As it turned out; they were right, working in Oecusse has been quite challenging, but very interesting because the typical characteristics of its people who are very adaptive, hospitable and friendly. In addition the security factor was also very supportive of World Neighbors together with AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO, and FFSO to work full time in the field without being worried about safety risks, even when one had to travel to and from the program area, even in midnight. World Neighbors and its four partner agencies has to extends its thanks especially to Johny Manek (a farmer from the village Manumean, participant in the program of YMTM TTU) and Yohanes don Bosco (staff of YMTM TTU) for their role in introducing and facilitating the process of development of agricultural technologies to increase production with the local communities at the early stages of the program, including terracing with leguminous hedgerow shrubs, in-row and in-hole tillage, and the development of family forests. We thank also Murwan Laksana (former World Neighbors’ Rural Livelihoods Program Officer) who has assisted the initiation process of World Neighbors’ program in the District of Oecusse from September 2005 till April 2007. The contribution of these three colleagues is engraved in the hearts of the people of the communities where they have worked. iii

We would also thank Agustinus Naisanit (Staff of YMTM TTU) and Yulianus Abiin (NATAL savings and credit group leader from the village of Fafinesu C, District of TTU) who facilitated the first training on saving and credit group administration and book-keeping for the staff or partner agencies and community representatives from the program area. This training has laid a sufficient strong base for the development of savings and credit groups in the program area. Referring to the developments which occurred at the beginning of the program, one main factor which made the greatest contribution to the mentioned develop has been the learning visits to World Neighbors’ program and other areas in Indonesia. For this World Neighbors extends its appreciation and gratitude to Vinsensius Nurak, the Director of Yayasan Mitra Tani Mandiri for all the support and learning opportunities facilitated all throughout the program’s implementation period. It is from Yayasan Mitra Tani Mandiri in the District of Timor Tengah Utara, that the staffs of the partner agencies and community representatives has learned about agroforestry, animal husbandry, credit and saving schemes, post harvest processing of agricultural products, strengthening of community organizations, and strategic planning at the village level. The superiority of family forests developed by Yayasan Mitra Tani Mandiri in Flores has strongly inspired the communities so that family forests are growing rapidly the World Neighbors program areas in the District Oecusse. In the field of community health, World Neighbors needs to thank Yayasan Keluarga Sehat Sejahtera Indonesia (YKSSI) based in Lombok and Yayasan Tananua based in Ende – Flores for their support and the facilitation process they carried out during the learning visits of 2007 and 2008. Those learning visits have given a quite strong inspiration about development methods in the field of health. Gratitude and appreciation also needs to be extended to the agency Koordinasi Pengkajian dan Pengelolaan Sumberdaya Alam (KOPPESDA) based in East Sumba for all its support in carrying out a holistic needs assessment at the beginning of the program, and for the biophysical watershed study which was discussed in the workshop on watershed management held in December 2009 and April 2011. The role of Studio Driya Media based in Bandung has also been vital in the development of learning materials. For this World Neighbors extend is thanks and appreciation for all its efforts; from the learning needs assessment, media development, pre-testing of the media with the communities, learning how to use media, till the evaluation of the effectiveness of those media. It has been Paul A. Joicey, former Area Representative of World Neighbors Southeast Asia who has taken the initiative to expand the World Neighbors program iv

to Timor Leste. His sensitivity to the situation during the initial assessment in 2005 and the dreams for change to be achieved have been a tremendous driving energy as well as fostering an attitude of positive militancy for all World Neighbors team members and the staff of the four partner agencies to do something in order to achieve better conditions. For this we need to convey our gratitude for his leadership during the period 2005 to mid 2009. Also to Putra Suardika and all the team members of World Neighbors Indonesia we convey our thanks and appreciation for all the methodological assistance and support provided since the start of the initial assessment until the end of this program. Individually, the progress achieved by this program can not be separated from the assistance given by Nina Hernidiah and Sri Lestari Utami especially for the work on health. Farida Budi Utami has provided much support and inspiration to the World Neighbors team and the four partner institutions in developing more innovative methods and approaches. While Yulius Opang has provided much assistance to the biophysical watershed study and presented it in two workshops held in December 2009 and April 2011. For all this, World Neighbors expresses its thanks for all the support provided during the development of this program. Special thanks need to be presented to Mr. Jose Tanesib Anunu, District administrador of Oecusse of his moral support given on various occasions, both during working visits to the World Neighbors program areas as well during various meetings. This support has contributed a tremendous passion to the World Neighbors team and its four partner agencies to continue working and innovating for the progress of development in the District Oecusse. Caritas Australia and Oxfam International are the closest learning companions of World Neighbors and the four partner institutions in program development. It should be noted that Caritas Australia has provided supported in the form of facilities and information during the initial exploration of the program areas conducted by World Neighbors in September 2005. During the implementation of the program, Caritas Australia has become the closest discussion partner in discussing issues related to the environment. Meanwhile, Oxfam International has provided support and shared experiences in the field of health. Because of World Neighbors’ limited facilities, these two institutions have been helpful to World Neighbors and its partner agencies in providing transportation support during the program implementation. For all this, World Neighbors expresses many thanks and appreciation to both institutions World Neighbors expresses many thanks and a deep appreciation to the leadership and the entire staff of AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO and FFSO for all interaction, the process of mutual learning, support and cooperation which were so solid during v

the implementation of this program. Without the good cooperation it would have been impossible to achieve results according to the expectations of this programs which was perceived as too ambitious by many others. To various parties who we could not mention one by one, we extend our thanks for the various roles, support, contributions, and assistance provided during the process of implementation of this program.




Associacao Haburas Capacidade Atoni Enclave (literally Association of Capacity Strengthening for Communities in Enclave of Oecusse), an NGO which is World Neighbors’ partner in the Distrik of Oecusse.

BIFANO Binibu Faef Nome, an NGO which is World Neighbors’ partner in the Distrik of Oecusse. CECEO

Centro Educacao Civica Enclave Oecusse (literally Center of Civics Education of Oecusse), an NGO which is World Neighbors’ partner in the Distrik of Oecusse.


Fundacao Fatu Sinai Oecusse, (literally Foundation of Fatu Sinai Oecusse), an NGO which is World Neighbors’ partner in the District of Oecusse.


Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.


Non-governmental Organization


Panduan Menilai Kemampuan Organisasi Masyarakat; Guide to Assess the Capacities of Community-Based Organizations


Serviso Integrado Saude Comunitaria, Integrated Community Health Services.


Secretariado Tecnico de Administracao Eleitoral (literally Technical Secretariat for Population Administration).


Timor Tengah Utara, the district of North Central Timor in West Timor, Indonesia.


Usaha Bersama Simpan Pinjam.


United States (of America).


Yayasan Mitra Tani Mandiri, an NGO. This foundation has its main office in Kefamenanu and has two branches, its Flores branch with its office in Mbay, District of Nagekeo; and its Timor branch with its office in Kefamenanu, District of Timor Tengah Utara (North Central Timor)



Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgements List of abbreviations Table of Contents

Section One. District of Oecusse, An Enclave in Timor Leste An Isolated Enclave Hospitality, A Special Characteristic of the People of Oecusse Slash and Burn Shifting Cultivation, Farming Practices That Trigger Land Degradation In The of District Oecusse Landslides, Floods and Food Shortages: The Main Problems in the District of Oecusse Section Two. Preparing WN Partner NGOs As Change Agents Strengthening Communities and Inspiring People, the Empowerment Vision of World Neighbors Learning Together with Farmers Building Change through Examples “It should Happen, Whatever it Takes”; Building Militancy to Achieve Change Holistic Approach, Responding to Food Scarcity from Various Aspects Section Three. Building Community Confidence, A Critical Junction in The Program’s Approach High Resistance due to The Lack of Material Assistance; Initial Program Challenge Innuendo and Scolding, Everyday Staple Identifying Key People, An Entry Point for Program Start at a Small Scale Mutual Trust, The Initial Capital of Closeness Staying in The Program Area; A Requirement for Field Workers

i iii vii ix

1 1 3 6 8

13 14 19 23 25 27

31 31 32 33 35 37 38


Section Four. Learning From Mistakes and Focusing on Success Learning from Mistakes Focus on Dreams and Successes Growing Pride

41 42 46 49

Section Five. Mutual Mocking to Encourage Healthy Competition


Section Six. Action-Learning, A Key to the Success of Capacity Strengthening of WN’s Learning Visits to Successful Areas DevelopIng Thought, FeelIing, and Action; Three Pillars of LearnIng Farmer Organization, a Vehicle for Community Learning Savings and Credit Groups; A Financial Safety Net becomes a Prime Solution Division of Dividends; one of the Attractions to Join a Saving and Credit Group Building an Equal Partnership; the Spirit of Learning Growing the Capacity and Reputation of Partner NGOs

55 55 57 60 64 66 67 68

Section Seven. Program Sustainability 71 Building Dreams of the Future, the Driving Energy of the Program Sustainability 73 Pioneering the Road to Sustainability 74 Assessing Indicators of Sustainability during Program Implementation 79


Section Eighth. Replication and Expansion of the Program’s Impact Replication Strategy The Strategy for Expansion of Program Impact

85 85 87

Section Nine. Lessons Learned and The Work Ahead Lessons Learned The Work Is Not yet Done ...!

91 91 98


District of Oecusse, An Enclave in Timor Leste

The District of Oecusse is an enclave within Indonesia’s territory, and is bordered by TTU and Belu, in the province of East Nusa Tenggara of Indonesia.

An Isolated Enclave Oeccuse is the only district of 13 the districts of Timor Leste which is an enclave within the national territory of Indonesia. This area is adjacent to the districts of North Central Timor and Belu in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The district is comprised of four sub-districts, namely Nitibe, Pasabe, Oesilo, and Pante Makassar, and includes 18 villages (suco) and 64 hamlets (aldeia). To the people of Timor Leste, the Oecusse District is identical with Lifau, where on December 18, 1515 the Portuguese first set foot on the soil of Timor. Therefore, Oecusse has become an historical area for the people of Timor Leste, considering that it is where Timor Leste’s history began.

In Lifau, where the Portuguese first landed in Timor Leste on December 18, 1515 - now a monument has been build.

Despite such an historical background, the District Oecusse has not been given preferential treatment. Being an area within an enclave surrounded by the Indonesian districts of North Central Timor (Timor Tengah Utara) and Belu, and being far from Dili, the seat of Timor Leste’s central government has made this region as if being forgotten. There are no adequate transportation routes linking this region with other regions of Timor Leste. The only public transportation connecting this region is by sea, and even then it only relies the Nakroma ferry which operates only two times a week on Tuesdays and Fridays with a travel time of 12 hours. There is air transportation using helicopters, but the use these aircraft are limited to the affairs of the United Nations and the government. In an emergency, the general public can access these, but they must go through certain procedures. There is a small Cassa type plane that connects Oecusse and Dili and operates from Monday to Friday, however, this plane can only carry six passengers at a time and will only come to Oecusse if there are passengers departing from Dili to Oecusse. Oecusse can be reached overland transportation, but this line of transportation has to cross through the territory of Indonesia, and as a result, the cost of overland transportation becomes relatively expensive as it requires an extra fee to pay for a transit visa.


The Nakroma ferry, the only means of transportation that connects Oecusse with other regions of Timor Leste, operates two times per week with a travel time of 12 hours.

In Oecusse’s own territory, there is public transportation between the sub-districts. There are busses that connect the city of Oecusse with the inner upland areas; one bus daily to each of the sub-districts of Pasabe and Nitibe. In addition to those buses, public transportation to the two sub-districts is also using the bus-trucks1 or trucks with open cargo boxes. There are only two trucks which connect the city of Oecusse with the interior plateaus of Aldeia Bebu, Suco Lelaufe, Sub-district Nitibe, and even then only on Fridays and Saturdays. These bus-trucks or truck vehicles are needed given the steep roads which are more than often quite damaged. Also, because the roads to those two regions cross several rivers without bridges, vehicles can not cross the rivers when they are flooding, the result being that inland areas in the sub-districts of Pasabe and Nitibe are totally isolated when the Tono River and several other major rivers are flooding. However, there are also some aldeia which can not be reached by four wheeled vehicles at all, such as the Aldeia Lamasi and Caban in the Sub-district of Nitibe and Aldeia Lacufuan, the Sub-district Pante Makassar, and some other regions. Transportation within the city, with the route from Oecusse to the Tono Market is served by microbus. While microbuses serving the route from the city of Oecusse to the border region with Indonesia in Sacato are only available on Saturdays as it is market day Numbei - the only market in the city of Oecusse. In addition, there is also a microbus route from the Tono Market to the border with Indonesia in Oesilo, but the average condition of the microbuses on this route are very questionable. 1 Bus-trucks are six wheeled trucks with a roof over their cargo box, and are used to carry people and goods from the interior to the city of Oecusse and vice-versa. In Flores, such vehicles are called bus kayu (wooden bus).


Broken buildings; the remains of the post-referendum violence in the capital district of Oecusse, Pante Makassar, August 30, 1999.

In addition to four-wheel vehicles which connect the areas as mentioned above, in the past year quite a lot of ojek, motorcycles that serve as passenger transport, have been arrived on the scene. These motorcycle taxis serve passengers on demand, either in town or out of town. There is no fixed base and there is no organization of motorcycle taxi drivers in the District Oecusse; so the routes and fares of the motorcycle taxis depend on negotiation. The motorcycle taxi fare for a trip into the interior is usually very expensive and could even reach US. $ 25. Such conditions of the infrastructure accompanied with a centralized system of government really slows down the development of this region. There are no regional initiatives that continuously encourage change in the District Oecusse. There are still many buildings broken down during the riots of the 1999 referendum which are just left uninhabited. It is only in 2010’s that development of infrastructure, government buildings and the roads was began, at the time when the central government of Timor Leste gave priority to infrastructure improvements. Given that this region is close to Indonesia, the supply of goods to fulfill people’s daily needs, with the exception of rice, is still very dependent on products coming from Indonesia. There are some traders in Kefamenanu who every two weeks send goods into the District of Oecusse through official channels using trucks. But the people, especially those living near the border in Oesilo, are used to conduct economic transactions to import goods from Indonesia through various backroads 2. Therefore, many goods found in this region of Oecusse are from Indonesia. 2 These illegal back-roads on the border of Oecusse with Indonesia are called “Jalan tikus” (rat paths) and are used by communities to maintain mutual relations and conduct business transactions.


The Pune market, which sells various types of goods, including products from Indonesia.

Hospitality, A Special Characteristic of the People of Oecusse. Oecusse has the literal meaning of water jar (Oel = water and Cusse = jar). It is said that these water jars where always placed in front of people’s home to be used by anyone in need of a drink of water. Along with the current developments of the era, this habit has become very rare. However, the tradition of hospitality of the Oecusse people can still be felt. “Boandia”, “Boatarde”, and “Boanoite” 3 , are a greetings of the residents of Oecusse to greet anyone encountered, including those whom they never met before. The indigenous peoples of Oecusse are descendants of the Dawan Tribe, a tribe that also exist in districts of North Central Timor and South Central Timor of in the Province of East Nusa Tenggara. Therefore, many of the residents of Oecusse have kinship relations with the people of those two regions. This tribe is using the same language namely Dawan. However, in Oecusse this language is called Baiqueno. So, unlike residents in other districts of Timor Leste who speak Tetun and other local dialects, Oeccuse is really “different” to other areas in Timor Leste. According to the census results of 2010, the population of Oecusse has reached 64,206 people, comprising of 31,991 men and 32,215 women (STAE District Oecusse, 2010). From this population, about 75% live in the mountainous regions and rely on dryland farming as their source of livelihood. Just as East Nusa Tenggara in Indonesia, Oecusse has a semi-arid climate with a rainfall limited to three or 3 “Bondia”, “Boatarde”, and “Boanoite”, are Portugese meaning consecutively “Good Morning”, “Good Afternoon” and “Good Evening or Night”.


Smiling easily, on characteristic of people in Oecusse.

four months only. The rain usually falls in the period of December to April with the highest rainfall in occurring in January and February. Due to the influence of global climate change, in 2010 and 2011 the climate of Oecusse tended to be wet; with the rainfall still heavy until April.

Slash and Burn Shifting Cultivation, Farming Practices that Trigger Land Degradation in Oecusse Like in many rural-upland areas, farm management practices adopted by farmers in the District of Oecusse are slash and burn shifting cultivation. When the carrying capacity of nature makes it still possible, this practice is appropriate in that the long fallow period restores soil fertility. But with the growing number of people who trigger a shorter fallow period, such practices are becoming a threat to sustainability. The occurrence of slash and burn agriculture is also influenced by the misconceptions about the origin of rain; part of the farmers perceive that rain comes from clouds formed by the smoke produced by the burning of the fields. The continuous practice of slash and burn shifting cultivation is depleting the agricultural lands of its nutrients, the soil solum becomes thin and the land becomes barren. As a result, the land’s productivity is declining over time. In the rainy season, the District Oeccuse is visibly green, mainly because of the growth 6

Slash and burn practices in Aldeia Pune and Caban; the cleaner the fields, the more diligent the owners are regarded.

of young grass and shrubs. But when the dry season arrives, almost all lands are dominated by the brownish color of dry vegetation of grasses and shrubs that begin to dry and the remains of the burning of the land. Of course, during the dry season, the debit of available water sources is much reduced. Seeing this poor condition of the lands, farmers do not dare to take the risk of crop failure, and they only focus on the planting of corn and rice. Not many farmers grow perennial crops such as plantation crops, fruit and timber, while the existing perennial plants are increasingly depleted due to continuous use without any replanting efforts. Because large areas of lands are left open, a lot of damage occurs when strong winds strike in February. Many houses collapse, crops in the fields are damaged, and perennial crops are uprooted and destroyed. 7

The view during the dry season, the result of slash and burn agriculture in Aldeia Nemun, Suco Taiboco.

A women who patiently collects water from small wells dug along a river in Aldeia Haemnanu.

Landslides, Floods and Food Shortages: The Main Problems in the District of Oecusse Such conditions of the land and a topography of steeply sloped hills could lead to disasters such as landslides and floods when the rainy season arrives. The Tono River, which is a meeting of four major rivers in the District of Oecusse, frequently overflows its banks during the rainy season. The floods which occur not only bring water, but also carry material such as rocks, sand, soil, and fallen trees from along the river which are uprooted due to the erosion by the water flow. The results of a biophysical study of the watersheds conducted in 2009 by World Neighbors and four NGO partners showed that at 60 observation points spread out over 12 8

Landslides and fallen trees brought by the floods piled up in the Tono River; a common sight during the rainy season.

aldeias in the upper, middle and downstream regions, the average erosion rate reached 185.59 tons/hectare/year. The highest average erosion rate occurred in the upstream region, amounting to 303.93 tons/hectare/year. The highest erosion rate of 1152.54 tons/hectare/year was found at the observation point in the Aldeia Buqui, Suco Usi Tacae, Sub-district of Oesilo. The high rate of erosion in turn resulted in a high rate of sedimentation in the Tono River. Observations made in late 2009 showed that the sedimentation in the Tono River reached a height of three meters and the river banks have receded approximately 200 meters in the last 10 years. Measurements at several observation points showed that the rate of silting up of the river reached 30-50 cm per year.4 With low land productivity, coupled with frequent crop failures, almost every year the residents of the Oecusse District experience food insecurity. The results of a baseline survey conducted in 2005 showed that the average number of months of adequate food availability to farmer families was only 6 to 7 months, and only limited to staple foods of rice and corn. During the remaining months of the year, people had to look for other alternatives to obtain food, including waiting for government rice donations or daily wage labor with a payment of about US $ 2/ day. 4 Laporan Hasil Kajian Kondisi Biofisik DAS Tono dan Kecenderungannya (Report of the Results of a Study on the Biophysical Conditions of the Tono Watersehed), World Neighbors, April 2010.


This condition was further exacerbated when the program approach of many parties initiating development in the District Oeccuse consisted mainly of providing material assistance. As a result, people are expecting and have become very dependent on this outside material assistance. The communities’ own initiative to manage their resources to build a better life did not emerge and develop. It where those reasons that brought World Neighbors — a non-governmental organization working in agriculture, health, and poverty reduction, which was founded in 1951 in Oklahoma, the United States — to develop a program in Timor Leste, starting their work in the District Oecusse. According to World Neighbors’ values and ideology, the program approach used had the distinctive feature of promoting empowerment which seeks to restore human dignity as an autonomous person having the ability to restore and improve their livelihoods in a sustainable manner. This program orientation and direction is long-term in nature and requires a specific strategy for its implementation. The program was first initiated in Aldeia Bebu, Suco Lelaufe, Sub-district Nitibe by building partnerships with AHCAE (Associacao Haburas Capasidade Atoni Enclave) in September 2005, then it was expanded to Aldeia Haemnanu, Suco Abani, SubPasabe in March 2006 by building a partnership with CECEO (Centro Educacao Civica Enclave Oecusse). The program initially started on a very small scale; only one aldeia in each of those two sub-districts with initial activities focused on soil Wayan Tambun, Murwan Laksana (World Neighbors), and Vinsensius Nurak (Yayasan Mitra Tani Mandiri); the pioneers who laid the foundation of World Neighbors’ program in Oecusse.


and water conservation and the development of vegetable gardens. Thanks to funding from the European Union for a program to increase food security — with a program period from January 2007 to June 2011 — the program expanded gradually to four sub-districts by expanding its partnership to include BIFANO (Binibu Faef Nome) and FFSO (Fundacao Fatu Sinai Oecusse). By December 2010, the program has been developed in 23 aldeias spread out in 13 sucos in the district of Oecusse. This book presents the story of the struggle of World Neighbors’ program implementers in Timor Leste, together with their four partner NGOs — AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO, and FFSO — to develop community development programs. They sought to encourage changes in the communities and improve the environmental carrying capacity for the improvement of people’s livelihood and its sustainability through improved food security. This program, which initially was perceived by many people as an ambitious program; in a relatively short time of only four and a half years showed remarkable achievements. Food security increased dramatically, the expansion of tilled fields went quite fast, the efforts in credit and savings schemes have become a collective movement as a community financial safety device, the capacity of farmers in improving their livelihoods and their environment continues to grow, and collective movements to address common needs and improve the wider environment have grown

Eucalypthus alba (in local dialect called “ai bubur”), one kind of wood tree which fireproof and mostly found still alive at burned lands. Now, it was protected by Timor Leste government.


Pante Makasar City with the nice beach view.

too. Something which was initially thought to be impossible given the condition of Oecusse at the time, turned out to be possible to realize. Many people are impressed with the changes. Even the local government of the District of Oecusse, regarded World Neighbors as one of the non-governmental organizations in the Oecusse which has been successful in promoting sustainable social and environmental change. Currently, the program area of World Neighbors partners have become a source of learning for others in developing programs, both in terms of strategy, approach, community empowerment, program sustainability, as well as on technical issues.



Preparing Partner NGOs as Agents of Change

What has been achieved by World Neighbors in cooperation with its four partner NGOs was not easily achieved. Many challenges had to be faced. The first challenges to be addressed at the beginning of the program came from World Neighbors’ own partner NGOs. The four non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who became World Neighbors partners (AHCAE, BIFANO, CECEO, and FFSO), which were expected to cooperate in encouraging the process of change in the District Oecusse by improving food security and environmental carrying capacity, did not have the necessary background and technical abilities in agriculture and forestry, “Postman”, The Initial Role of Partner NGOs Before building partnership with World Neighbors; the roles of AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO and FFSO were to respond to job opportunities offered by international agencies for short-term needs and technical assistance. AHCAE, for example, did cooperate with an international development agency for three months in developing a plow and train cows to be the draft animals. BIFANO in collaboration with another international development agency was involved for six months in establishing vegetable gardens and tree nurseries; and distributing its seedlings to farmers. CECEO also in cooperation with an international development agency was conducting civic education for the communities, while FFSO in cooperation with international development agencies distributed building materials to communities. This situation was prevalent until the end of 2005. So, initially those four NGOs were only doing what had to be done according to their contracts for cooperation with those international agencies. The analogy is that of a post-man; the four NGOs were taking to the communities whatever they were asked to take there.

let alone the capacity to develop a program with a vision of empowerment. How could they encourage people to develop the sedentary farms by applying a variety of appropriate technologies in the management of those farms, while they themselves did not have the required capabilities? Therefore, the first strategy developed by World Neighbors for program implementation was to prepare its partner NGOs to take on the role as agents of change through capacity strengthening of NGO’s staff.

Strengthening Communities and Inspiring People, the Empowerment Vision of World Neighbors Just as much of the development jargon, “community empowerment� is something attractive to say but rarely implemented consistently in actual development programs. For World Neighbors as a development initiating institution which has long struggled in development efforts, empowerment is of course an important concern. Empowerment has even become an imperative for the implementation of any program. So what is empowerment? Norman Reid (1996) defines empowerment as an effort to develop the ability of poor communities to build their capacity, increase their confidence to play an active role in development using their resources and help to build partnerships with other organizations15 . This definition implies that there is no single strategy in community empowerment. Each community has its own characteristics and context, and therefore also needs its own strategy in accordance with the characteristics and context of the community in question. It is impossible to talk about empowerment and then focus only on trainings, material support, or financial support. The experience of World Neighbors and other agencies of the development community provide many valuable lessons in that the process of community empowerment should be done in a systematic, phased and integrated way. And, referring to that experience, World Neighbors has identified that there are at least four stages in the empowerment of communities, namely: 1) Developing Critical Awareness; 2) Capacity Building; 3) Community Organizing, and 4) Resource Mobilization. Figure 1 below shows the community empowerment process as a cycle where the flow of the cycle is not linear, but could go back and forth. The direction of the cycle is determined by how far the maturity level of the process at each stage. 51 Norman Reid. 1996. Community Empowerment: Key to Success. OCD Technote 2, September 1996.



Building Critical Awareness Outputs; Communities understand:  Their conditions.  Factors causing their conditions  The causal relationships among the many factors causing their conditions.  Their potential and their resources.  Their needs.  Emergence of realistic ideas

Mobilization of Resources

Capacity building Outputs:  Communities’ knowledge and skills increases.  Improvement in thinking and analysis.  Improvements in how to perceive existing problems.  The formation of learning communities.

Outputs:  Self-reliance.  Financial self-reliance  Initiatives to raise outside resources.  Wider partnerships

Community Organization Outputs:  The building of collective agreement and awareness.  The emergence of solidarity and a feeling of common destiny.  The emergence of collective actions

Figure 1. Community Empowerment Process

Developing Critical Awareness The first thing that becomes necessary in a community empowerment process is to develop people’s critical awareness. Usually critical awareness is built through a process of a very intensive and repetitive social interactions occurring at the appropriate opportunities. Without the awakening of critical awareness at the community level, community members will always regard any ideas emerging from the discussions and any programs that are planned, as the ideas and programs from outsiders, where people themselves are positioned just as the executors, or even simply passive recipients of benefits.


How to build critical awareness of those who are poor or marginalized? From the experiences in many areas it can be concluded that outsiders who come into a community with the intention of building people’s critical awareness should have the skills to listen and the willingness to always learn from the rhythms of the communities’ life. Based on the intensive and repeated discussions as well as from the lessons learned, outsiders can identify the problems faced by the communities, the factors which cause those problems, the potential people have, their habits and the values they adhere to, and various other information. Communities also need to be facilitated to recognize their potential and to imagine a better life to which they might aspire. Only after the information is adequate, could an outsider get into the facilitation process to develop an understanding of linkages between all the information which will lead to the emergence of various ideas from the communities themselves to build their lives better. Capacity Building When people become aware of their situation and the factors that influence their condition, this usually results in feeling and spirit of “rebellion”62 in the communities, both of individuals and collectively. Often a feeling of regret emerges as to why is it only now that they realize their situation, and not earlier. Furthermore, people also realize what they actually have and what they need to improve their situation, they will attempt to map out what the potential and the resources they already possess. If there are resources they do not yet have, they will also think about how they can acquire those resources they need. It is at this time that capacity building efforts can be started. Ideally, capacity building activities should be based on the results of a needs assessment and the process of building critical awareness so that the program’s substance is fully in accordance with the communities’ needs and it is guaranteed that the results can be followed up. In this way, the activities are also more attractive to community members/learning participants and they become very active, because the learning activities undertaken are perceived as meeting their interests. Therefore, they are also active in organizing activities and even contributing what they have to the implementation of capacity building activities. Community Organizing Based on the experience of World Neighbors’ approach and its partners in Flores in the mid-1990s, after strengthening the capacity of individuals an anxiety appears both among the community members as well as among the field staff. At the 62 “Rebellion” as intended here is an attitude and willingness to free oneself from an unwilled situation of a certain time


community level, people begin to realize that working alone is not effective. There is no process of mutual learning and exchange of experiences among community members. Besides, solving the problems also depends on the ability of individuals only. At the level of field staff, they feel too tired to work with farmers from farm to farm discussing the same things repeatedly as they move from one farmer to another farmer. This is really very boring for the field staff. Based on these problems, the communities developed the idea to form groups based on their seasonal work groups which already exist. This is where community organizing efforts arise; how the people are given space to organize themselves organically in accordance to their ideals, without intervention from outside parties. Once community organizations are formed, outside parties should take on the role of strengthening the capacities of those community organizations. In other words, at first people are allowed to organically organize themselves into groups without much intervention from outside parties, and only after the groups have been formed, outsiders need to take on the role to strengthen the capacity of those organizations. In order for the capacity strengthening processes of the community organizations to be done systematically and in accordance with their needs, at its initial stage an capacity assessment by the organization itself will be needed (self-assessment). A guide-book on how to assess the capacity of community organizations has been developed by several parties and published with the title “PEKA; Panduan Menilai Kemampuan Organisasi Masyarakat� (Community Organization Capacity Assessment Guide). 73 Resource Mobilization In order to realize the plans that have been formulated by the community, both individually and collectively, a variety of resources (information, skills, expertise, material, financial, etc.) will be needed. Parts of those resources needed are in fact already owned by the communities. However, usually these resources are not quite adequate to implement the various ideas and plans which have been made by the communities. Usually there are still a myriad of resources to be raised from the outside. For this purpose resource mobilization efforts are required. World Neighbors’ experience in working directly with community organizations in various areas of Indonesia showed that if the process of critical awareness building has succeeded in awakening a sense of solidarity among community members, 73 PEKA, Panduan Menilai Kemampuan Organisasi Masyarakat (Community Organization Capacity Assessment Guide). Developed in cooperation among ACCESS Project - AusAID, VECO Indonesia, World Neighbors, Heifer International Indonesia, MFP, and NTCDC. April 2005


and if they believe that the ideas formulated are able to answer their needs, then regardless of how poor a community is, it will not be too difficult to mobilize the social and financial self-reliance of that community. Support from outside sources should only be obtained if the community has shown evidence of this self-reliance and results of their work. Based on this evidence, outsiders will usually take the initiative to fulfill those resources which can clearly not be obtained by the communities themselves. Indicators of Community Empowerment Ultimately, community empowerment will be reflected in the changing situation and circumstances within the community itself. In general, those situational changes will be reflected through: • Development of local community initiatives in responding to their needs, both individual and collective needs. • The development of courage and self-confidence of the community in expressing their thoughts and opinions, and in making decisions, including in fighting for their rights. • The organization of local initiatives and ideas of community members into more concrete action plans. • The development of more democratic ways of decision making and more egalitarian power relations within community organizations and within the broader society. • The development of solidarity between citizens, between hamlets and villages, and between villages within a broader community. • More equal gender relationships with equal rights of men and women • The development of active participation at all levels of the community in realizing the ideas and plans that have been formulated. • Transparency in the management of information and resources. • The development of new egalitarian relationship patterns with various parties. • The fulfillment of the basic needs of the community. • The development of local community-owned resources and access to resources from the outside. • General improvement of the communities’ social welfare.


Thus, empowerment is a process to build the self-confidence of communities, in which through the potential and the power they have, they can actually do something to improve their lives, either alone or jointly with others. How this vision of empowerment could be internalized within the activities of the four partner NGOs in the program area, would not be easy. Over time and through a process that is continually being built, the vision of empowerment could then become part of the everyday behavior of the partner NGOs.

Learning Together with Farmers The first thing World Neighbors did in preparing its partner NGOs as change agents was the strengthening of their capacity in terms of managing permanent farms and the various agricultural technologies related to it. But in a unique way, this capacity building was done in conjunction with the strengthening of the capacity of the farmer participants. In this case, the NGO staff were positioned as a learning companions of the farmers. They live and work together with farmers, they learn from what they do in the farms, they develop tests of new technologies, analyze test results, and then disseminate the learning outcomes to other farmers. The most important learning resource for strengthening the capacity of World Neighbors’ partner NGOs and farmers was Yayasan Mitra Tani Mandiri (YMTM), a non-governmental organization in Indonesia, which has its headquarter in Kefamenanu, in the district of North Central Timor (TTU), which is adjacent to the District of Oecusse. Capacity building activities were done through various The discussion and technical explanations during the development of the water system in Aldeia Saben.


Left:The A-frame, a simple tool to identify the contour lines as the basis for terracing. Right: Johnny Manek, one of the farmers assisted by YMTM, who directly trained the farmers in Aldeia Bebu and Haemnanu.

activities, among others: agroforestry training and direct practice in the farms, study visits to the villages assisted by YMTM in North Central Timor, visits by YMTM staff and farmer representatives to the World Neighbors’ program areas in the District Oecusse in order to share experiences and motivate farmers in Oecusse. In fact, it can be ascertained that YMTM has become the main learning source for the partner NGOs and farmers in the District Oecusse. They have learned not only the technical and management aspects of farming, but also the methods and tactical approaches and techniques to motivate farmers, community organizing techniques, saving and credit schemes, post-harvest processing, and collective marketing. Except from the technical aspects of agriculture, the capacity of partner NGOs to develop long-term community development initiatives with a vision of empowerment was limited indeed. The previous experience of the four partners NGOs was limited to be the implementers of programs or projects of other agencies which sometimes were only of a short duration, 3 to 6 months. Moreover, the partner NGOs had absolutely no experience in organizational management. In addition to the limited technical and managerial capacities, there was an unhealthy competitive attitude among the partner NGOs themselves, which at times even tended to be destructive. The partners considered themselves to be the most correct while other agencies were not. There was also a very strong paternalistic attitude of its leaders. This also became the first “homework� to 20

Now CECEO is no longer a Guard Post A “Guard Post�, was how many people called CECEO around 2004-2006. This happened because at that time, we CECEO staff were just waiting to be called by other parties to perform whatever activities. However, those conditions have changed since March 2006 when we first met with World Neighbors. At that time, I was asked to come to World Neighbors’ annual meeting in Sumba in April 2006. I just came. As it turned out, there we and other partners were requested to present our program plans. I felt like dieing on the spot; I did not know what I was to say. So I just rambled along without being sure about any content. However, after engaging with World Neighbors, our institution has changed now; we are able to write proposals and reports, and the organization of our agency is better managed; the staff is organized and we have job descriptions. In the past we had absolutely no rules; we just did everything haphazardly as it came along. Interestingly, we used to always consider ourselves more intelligent than the people, but now it has been reversed and we consider the communities to be our teachers. We learned a lot from what they do, the challenges they face, and the results they have accomplished. CECEO is now known as an institution that has a clear vision of empowerment, instead of merely being a Guard Post. Juvenal Faria, Director CECEO be dealt with by World Neighbors; how to promote the values of collaboration, solidarity and mutual learning between partner NGOs in program development. The first activity World Neighbors used to build unity and a sense of solidarity among its partner NGOs was to organize a couple cookouts together. World Neighbors only provided the raw materials needed, while the actual cooking was done jointly by all the staff of partner NGOs; ranging from peeling scallops, plucking chickens, chopping meat, grating coconut, lighting the cooking fire, roasting chicken, and so forth. They were all encouraged to be active regardless of their position in the institution. People joked and had a good time together and personal intimacy between people developed. After several events like this were organized, a sense of togetherness among staff within in a single agency and among different agencies began to develop, and even became stronger over time. 21

Cooking together, recreation as well as a means of familiarizing themselves with each other and even the Director of AHCAE is taking an active role.

World Neighbors’ Partner Agencies are Talkative by Now Talkative! This is one real change that is felt by almost all the staff of partner NGOs. • Calisto Quefi, fondly called Lito (AHCAE field staff ): The first time I was asked to talk by Mr. Putra (World Neighbors Indonesia Program Coordinator) during a visit to Mahata in September 2005, I became very scared! I got all sweaty, so I could not utter a word! Now, I am confident and can talk even in front of officials. I dare to talk because I know what I should be talking about! • Venancio Amaral Quelo Sila, fondly called Bene (former field staff of BIFANO, who is now a supervisor): I used to be very quiet because I did not know what I should talk about. Now I can talk fluently with anyone!

In addition, other means used by World Neighbors to overcome the unhealthy competition was to encourage participants to continue learning by organizing a variety of activities and instill the value that the field is the best school and the communities are the best teachers for them. Now, the four NGO partners have already sufficient capacity to manage their organization and develop its programs. They have been able to develop proposals 22

and work directly with other donors besides than with World Neighbors. This has been a change which fosters enthusiasm for the program staff to continue develop their institutions and programs oriented toward community empowerment.

Building Change through Examples As agents of change, the staff who are implementing the program should have the attitudes, behaviors and mentality of really willing to struggle for the change of society and the environment. People, who work by giving their heart to the communities, behave and act as ‘friends’ as well as setting an example for people who want to make changes. However, just as in the case of the technical aspects of agriculture, the attitudes and behaviors of World Neighbors partner NGOs staff were not yet appropriate. In performing their duties they mostly perceived themselves merely as “employees” who were entitled to boss community members around. How could this not be, when visiting the communities, World Neighbors’ partner NGOs staff carried Outsiders are not to be Bosses in the Community, but Learning Companions When I visited the program areas in 2006 and 2007, I was really amazed by the behavior of the staff of the partner NGOs. Many of them came into the community with an attitude of being the boss. They sat in the chairs provided by community members, while the people sat on the floor. Their facilitation of technical trainings was no different than a teacher lecturing his/her students. Seeing this reality, I was compelled to set an example of how to build communication and positioning oneself at an equal level with community members, invite people to imagine a better future to stimulate their enthusiasm, and involve oneself in the work being done by farmers in their fields. I remember very well what Mr. Stanis Nel, head of the farmer groups in Bairo Nun Ana, Aldeia Queno, said when I used the hoe and participated in the working group which was digging the soil to make the first terrace in the bairo. “This is how a field worker should be. If all field workers were like this, our area would make progress faster “, he said in front of some field staff from AHCAE. It seems that the model of “build the dream, set an example, and join in the work with farmers” is most preferred method by the community members in extension. Wayan Tambun, World Neighbors Program Coordinator in Timor Leste 23

themselves as people of higher status, sitting in chairs provided by the community while community members sat on the ground, and asking to be served. It was strongly felt by Wayan Tambun (World Neighbors Program Coordinator in Timor Leste) as a tough challenge at the beginning of the program development in Oecusse.

“This should be the way field workers do their work, they must dare to dirty their hands ....!” (Wayan Tambun, World Neighbors Program Coordinator for Timor Leste.)

Faced with this situation, Wayan Tambun took a stand and acted by setting an example directly in front of the partner NGOs staff as a field officer. Provide an example not verbally but with real actions showing how the program staff is supposed to work with rural communities. This approach did not automatically have a positive effect in influencing the attitudes and behavior of partner agency staff. For various reasons some staff of the partner NGOs even “refused” and showed aversion toward Wayan Tambun. Despite such challenges, Wayan Tambun remained consistent with the approach of setting an example to the staff of partner NGOs, even nowadays in 2011. He is not only working in the farmers’ fields, but getting involved in building cattle sheds, processing nutritious food, building a clean water piping system, etc. With the passage of time, presently the behavior and mental attitude of partner NGOs staff was getting better. Even in terms of dress, they now have changed a lot; in Infuriated but Appreciative I remember very well the talk of Pak Wayan when his first visit in Bebu in September 2006, “Being a field-worker, you must dare to dirty your hands!”, so Pak Wayan said while hoeing to give an example to the farmers on how to build a terrace mound. I was furious! Upset! How dare this Indonesian person talk to me like that! At that time I loathed people from Indonesia. But his words kept ringing in my ears, and over time I felt that there was truth in what Pak Wayan had said. Especially when I participated in learning visits to Kefamenanu, Sumba, Lombok, and also to Bali. I saw for myself how field staff should work with the community. Since then, I am conscious of my role as a field-worker. Pak Wayan’s words have become a very valuable lesson for me and has changed how I think about my work. Domingos da Costa (Lopo), former field staff, now a Supervisor at AHCAE


Even the Program staff also did not hesitate to work in the fields together with farmers. Domingos Ati, the Director of AHCAE and Lito (Field Staff of AHCAE) are working with farmers in the fields.

the past, when they went to the field, they always wore neat clothes, their shirt tucked into their pants and wearing shoes. Now, they look unpretentious, not very different than most farmers. The values that the “the community is the best teacher” which used to be verbally expressed now has been rooted in the hearts of partner agency staff. The approach of directly setting an example had a positive impact on the mental attitude of the staff of partner NGOs to carry out their duties as change agents. Without an attitude of always setting an example, it would not be possible to carry out their role as change agents to the optimum. But, being exemplary and setting an example is not enough; what is still needed is an attitude of militancy48 on the part of program staff, local leaders, and community members.

“It should Happen, Whatever it Takes”; Building Militancy to Achieve Change “It should happen, Whatever it takes, lets find the way”. This is the essence of the spirit that should be reflected by the program staff of World Neighbors’ partner NGOs and by community members at the end of the discussions to build their dreams and map out the potentials around them. They should really believe that these dreams can be realized in a realistically set time period. 84 Militant and militancy here and in the next paragraphs, are used in its positive meaning of being persistent, determined, steadfast, or strong willed.


“It Must Happen, Whatever it Takes”: Some Examples of Militant Attitudes In July 2007 discussions of the Farmers Group of Tabe in Aldeia Haemnanu about the benefits of in-row tillage in improving yields inspired the group members to apply these technologies in their own farms. They promised World Neighbors’ staff. “You will see what we are up-too. We do not bullshit “ was the last sentence of one of the group members. During a visit in September 2007, 18 farms owned by 18 members of the group showed in-row tillage. They were even willing to take sacks to cattle grazing areas in search of cow dung to be put into the furrows created. And indeed, the average yields of their maize and sweet potatoes increased by three-fold. On a day in November 2007, Domingos Ati just returned from the farm of Mr. Mauricio Seco in Bairo Sonaf, Aldeia Bebu who had dreams of having a coffee plantation. However, as the farmers and AHCAE were not ready with a nursery, Domingos Ati was willing to go to Ermera the next day to find the coffee seedlings there. There were 250 seedlings which were taken and planted in Mr. Mauricio’s farm using the in-hole tillage technique. By April 2011, about 50 trees are still alive and have been harvested for a second year. Jacinto Mala - Director BIFANO - really believed that strategic planning could encourage the participation of all parties at the suco level to play an active role in development and make their suco thrive. In cooperation with the heads of the forum from three aldeias in the area of Suco Usi Tacae, they tried to influence the newly elected Chefe de Suco. Day and night they tirelessly discussed their ideas to transmit their dreams and develop ideas on how to manage the planned workshop activities. The Chefe de Suco Usi Tacae also came to believe in the idea. The Suco strategic planning workshops were conducted in October 2009 for four days involving 157 participants who were representatives from the bairos, and were organized by the community itself. Currently, the development Suco Usi Tacae is growing dynamically with high community participation; something that was never imagined before. One by one, the dreams in the planning have been achieved. Conviction that the dreams of achieving a better future can be realized has kindled the spirit of program staff and communities to find ways and strategies to realize those dreams. The belief in those dreams is like a driving energy from within, an inner power moving the people’s efforts. They are militant. What ever it takes! For people, when they already have an idea to be followed up, they would seek to mobilize all local potentials which they could utilize. They would only ask partner 26

NGOs for support for things they clearly can not reach on their own. In fact, they challenged World Neighbors to come and see what they had done to pursue their dreams. For the Director or Program Coordinator, they should always find out about what kind of support would be needed by the field staff and the community in pursuit of their dreams. This militant attitude in pursuing their dreams, both of the program staff, local leaders in the community and community group members has become the driving energy. Setting an example and militancy are the major drivers for achieving a desired change in the communities. The Communities Continue Moving Some members of the farmers group of Unijola in Bairo Leolbatan, Aldeia Lacufuan, dreamed of making their gardens into pineapple plantations. They tried to find pineapple seeds from various places, including purchasing it from the Village Manamas in the District of North Central Timor. They planted the seedlings they got in their gardens and maintained them. In December 2010, Mr. Marcelinus Neno reported an abundant pineapple production in Leolbatan. They even could no longer carry the amount of fruits to be sold to the market. World Neighbors addressed this issue by sending them to learn how to make the pineapple jam in the program area of YMTM in Kefamenanu in March 2011. In April 2011, besides being sold as fresh fruit in the Markets of Tono and Numbei, the pineapples are already processed into pineapple jam.

Holistic Approach, Responding to Food Scarcity from Various Aspects The initial assessment conducted by a World Neighbors team in September 2005 and continued with a holistic needs assessment and an Participatory Welfare Analysis in October 2006 found that the food insecurity and poverty which occurred in the district of Oecusse is caused by various interlinked factors. The main cause which stands out and is quite apparent is the low productivity of the land due to management practices that are less supportive of natural resource sustainability and of the degraded environmental carrying capacity. In addition, the low capacity of human resources as a result of the “mental terror� and the degradation of social assets (community social capital) that occurred over several generations in the past has resulted in the lack of development initiatives at various levels; at the 27

Participatory Analysis of Community Welfare; the community members themselves determine the indicators of welfare and who they are.

community level, the NGOs level, and at the level of government officers. Therefore, World Neighbors decided to approach the existing problems in a holistic manner from different aspects in order to improve the livelihoods assets, both natural resource assets, human resources, physical resources and infrastructure, social resources, and financial resources. 9 5 In addition of aiming to reduce poverty and enhance food security, especially for rural communities in the uplands, the food security enhancement program developed by World Neighbors with its four partner organizations also aimed to improve the ability of local governments and civil society organizations to support community-based development initiatives and in favor of the poor. There are four main things to be achieved by World Neighbors to approach and answer the problem of food insecurity of the rural highland communities in the District Oecusse. First, to increase food availability through soil management techniques which ensure the improvement of agricultural productivity. Second, improve the use of food, including post-harvest management, food use planning, and the processing of local food stuffs into nutritious foods. Third, improving the communities’ access to food, both physically and economically. Physical access is closely related to food distribution within the society, while economical access is associated with increased affordability of food of the community. That is, if at a certain time food availability from the farms in the community is inadequate, people would still able to meet their needs by buying food around them. Fourth, 95 Refereing to the concept of “Sustainable Livelihoods Framework�.


improve the social and cultural norms, relating to the access and control over food at the family and community level. This needs to get attention in the view that in the community it is the men who dominate the decisions about what crops are to be planted in their farms. In addition, usually fathers and sons eat first, then the mothers and daughters. This pattern has caused that the food rations of mothers and daughters, including under-fives, are often less than the food portions of men. Those four aspects are influenced by three main factors, namely 1) responsive propoor policies, and integrated services; 2) Access to land, water, shelter, finance, employment, and a safe and healthy environment; 3) Development of community and social assets. All these strategies and components aim to improve the nutritional status and welfare of the communities. , Access to land, water, shelter, finances, employment, and a healthy and safe environment.

Socio-cultural norms

Food availability Responsive pro-poor, integrated policies and services

Improved nutrition and wellbeing


Food utilization

Economic and physical access

Social and community assets

Figure 2: The model for an holistic approach to community development including food security

Given how heavy the challenges to be faced are, a holistic approach to address food insecurity, as described above was initially considered too ambitious because it wants to do all things at once within a period of only four years. This is not possible!; so was the people’s response. Many people, including World Neighbors’ partner NGOs were pessimistic. But this did not apply to Domingos Ati, the Director of AHCAE. To achieve change in the District of Oecusse in particular and in Timor Leste in general, would take “mad people”. Mad in a positive connotation; that 29

Participants of a learning visit are having their picture taken in front of the YMTM-TTU office.

is thinking and acting different from the usual. Mad ideas, mad innovations, mad strategies, mad enthusiasm and mad ways of working.10 6 But as it turns out this approach was not something impossible. The “madness” has become the capital base to achieve change. In the first two years of program development, World Neighbors in cooperation with its partner NGOs really had to work extra hard and become “workaholic” to deal with various physical and social challenges and at the same time show evidence of initiation of change even when the changes were on very small scale . World Neighbors and its partner NGOs believe that the evidence of change in society — although on a very small scale — will become the capital to attract people’s attention and inspire them to participate toward a greater change and expand those changes. Furthermore; this approach was focused only on the four aldeias. Various strategies and approaches were tested and developed in those communities, including the integration of gender aspects in the program approach. At the next stage, after the aldeia level program was running and showing success, the next approach was to replicate those successes to other farmers and other areas as well as expand the program coverage. At the level of each partner agency, which previously focused just on one aldeia, the program was expanded to include four to five aldeia. The lessons gained when developing the program in one aldeia, were then exchanged between partner NGOs and developed into learning materials to be used in approaching and expanding into other aldeias.

106 This “madness” will be discussed in further sections.



Building Community Confidence, A Critical Junction in The Program’s Approach

High Resistance due to The Lack of Material Assistance; Initial Program Challenge As mentioned earlier, the predominant attitude of people in the rural areas in the District of Oecusse in general and the farmers in particular was to be waiting for outside initiatives. As a remaining influence from the projects during the postreferendum emergency period, they assumed that every agency which comes into their area, surely would bring relief assistance. This attitude is certainly a challenge for program managers, who carry the vision of empowerment. In this phase, World Neighbors which is oriented to the development of community self-reliance, has to be confronted with people’s attitude of wishing for material assistance. The approach of many parties who give assistance and provide jobs in perfunctory ways just as a means for people to get some cash (cash-for-work), is increasingly weakening the social capital of the communities. What Would You Help Us With? “Sir, you have been coming and going to our area for quite a while by now. However, it is not clear yet to us what assistance you will give to us“. This was the expression of some farmers when I joined the group discussions Tabe, Bairo Nun’Atais Aldeia Haemnanu in middle of July 2007. Wayan Tambun, World Neighbors Program Coordinator for Timor Leste

The expectation for assistance from outside parties that come into the community has led many people to come and wanting to join the groups being formed. This also happened when World Neighbors and the four partner NGOs came into the communities to do their initial assessment. But within months, even weeks, when it became apparent that their expectations to obtain material assistance was not met, one by one people withdrew. Only a few families who had a strong desire to learn, continued to be involved and adopted a various of technologies which were introduced, even though the group were not there anymore.

Innuendo and Scolding, Everyday Staple Many sad experiences were faced by the program implementers at the beginning of the program, both by World Neighbors’ and partner NGOs staff. Peoples’ scorn, ridicule and even scolding were the daily staple of program implementers in the field. At one time some gossip circulated in the community — from unknown sources — that people had been deceived by AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO, and FFSO. The gossip was that World Neighbors as an international agency actually had brought relief aid, but the four NGOs had not distributed it to the people. During trainings, discussions, or meetings held in the community, it was often heard that “They have been taking the money that supposed to be given to us, the people!”, “Do not trust them! They are liars, braggarts! They have cheated us! “. Such scolding became part of the field staff’s “daily diet”. Indeed, many community members were influenced by it and one by one they withdrew from the group membership and from their participation in the program. Whatever was said by program’s House visits and farm visits; the Extension Method Adopted at the Beginning of the Program, at Aldeia Saben.


staff trying to explain that they come into the community to invite people to learn together about how to manage their farms for better results, was ignored and did not get any significant response from the communities. Only a few individual people responded positively. Responding to this situation, the program implementing staff – especially the field staff – were faced with very difficult choices. On the one hand, they were convinced that they should remain consistent in their approach in accordance with the vision of empowerment. However, on the other hand, as human beings, they had their feelings, often they felt offended and even depressed to hear the gossip, innuendo and scolding addressed to them almost every day. They were often caught up in feelings of disappointment, sadness, and sometimes even despair. However, one thing which is certain and believed by World Neighbors and its partner NGOs is that to be able to convince farmers of the changes to be achieved and its potential benefits to the communities, they must show proof of success with benefits which can be seen and felt immediately by the people. The faster is better! This strategy has been pursued by World Neighbors and its four partner NGOs in the field to build the communities’ trust. At this stage, the implementing program staff worked directly in the farmers’ farms, to prove that farmers can improve their own lives, with their own hands.

Identifying Key People, an Entry Point for the Program Apparently, in all regions the handful of farmers who showed a positive response at the beginning of the program had similarities in terms of their views and principles of life. They believed that what was done by the NGOs was aimed to improve their families’ lives, and not for the NGOs themselves. They believed that to improve their families’ life, they had to work hard. The arrival of the NGO’s which Seven key people in Aldeia Bebu; who remained unmoved and kept applying the program’s ideas even though their group had dispersed.


were willing to work with them was perceived as an opportunity to learn how to improve their farms and other aspects of their lives, to be facilitated by the NGOs. Therefore, they held the view that regardless of the provision of aid, they would have to work hard. This can be evidenced by several positive findings. Within the communities, regardless of the strength of the rejection by community members, there were initiators. There were groups of people who were the first to be open to new ideas. They were not always the formal leaders in the area. These first groups of “key persons” were ordinary members of their communities who were very open to new ideas as well as being a role model for the surrounding community. They also had a basic ability to influence and mobilize others. However, we needed to be careful with key people rom this first group; sometimes the were just talkative, able to mobilize other people, but they themselves did not do anything to set an example for other families. In fact, they tended to act feudalistic and exploit members of the group to work on their own fields. The second group of “key persons” sometimes came from ordinary community members, even those who tended to be marginalized; they were usually insecure, afraid to speak out for fear of being mistaken, but had a strong desire to learn and a strong determination to change their lives. They liked to sit in the back row when attending meetings or discussions, they frequently shied away if approached. However, once successfully approached and invited to discuss their dreams for a better future, their faces brightend-up and their eyes sparkled. A strong spirit to do something shone from their eyes. So the similar characteristic of the two groups of key people mentioned above is that they were being open to learn, excited when invited to talk about new ideas to achieve a better life, had a desire to apply what they have learned, had a willingness to exchange and disseminate the success stories of what they had accomplished to others around them. Then, after achieving success in certain respects, their confidence usually increased, they mustered the courage to speak to others, and even began to dare to invite and mobilize people. These are the people who must identified by field staff of the program. Identifying key people is the most important strategy in the community approach at the beginning of the program. If the programs manage to find these key people, it is them who would later become the initiators. The next strategy is to encourage these initiators to drive the process of change at the wider scale. But field experience has shown that identifying the key people can only be done if the field staff stay and settle in the location of the program. Quite often those key people do not attract much attention. So if the field workers and program staff just 34

Nine Housewives as Program Initiators in Naetoco In 2007, when we began working with the people in Aldeia Naetoco, I introduced them to vegetable cultivation. At that time, it was only the women who responded and there were about 100 people who were interested in joining the groups. But after three months, there were only nine women who still remained. The others dropped out because they initially hoped to receive some aid which was not forthcoming. I discussed the situation with the other people in BIFANO and it was decided to provide individual assistance to those nine women. Through this individual approach, I encouraged them to establish a group. Then, I encouraged this group of only nine people save part of the money they obtained from the sale of their vegetables. The result was beyond expectation; in addition to getting vegetables they also managed to save money. This is what attracted others to join the group. Moreover, when the group developed as a savings and credit group, more and more people wanted to join. Even the men who formerly did not want to join because there was no material aid provided and did not trust BIFANO, became interested to join as group member and participate into the program. Mozes, BIFANO field staff come in and go to the location of the program and only rely on short meetings to find these key people by observing how active the person is speaking, most likely will not be able to find the real key people. They would be totally wrong! Detailed observation to identify these key people could only occur if the program staff have a psychological closeness with the people, empathize, and mingle in the daily lives of the communities. People in Aldeia Bebu mentioned the people who are close to their hearts with the term “soba”.11 A big part of the program staff’s job and of the change agents in the field is how to be the “soba” of the communities.

Start at a Small Scale Small is beautiful! This is one of World Neighbors philosophical tenets in its program approach which has been applied in community development programs 11 “Soba” is a local term which means special friend. This special relation is psychologically very close. It is a relationship of sharing among friends of the heart. If the person is outsiders, it is sometimes described as people who willing to drink from the same glass.


Imaculada Fauf (number three from right), field staff of BIFANO who is involving with farmers to build terraces in the farm.

in various parts of the world, from Asia, Africa to South America. This philosophy has two basic interpretations. Firstly, to make changes in a large community it is not necessary to do it at once on a large scale. Starting changes on small scale, besides being cheaper will also reduce the risks if at a later time the initiation of strategies and programs to achieve these changes fail. Secondly, to achieve change in a society, we need to start from the small and simple things as an entry point; and this entry point should be a real response to the practical needs of the communities, and the results of which should be visible and be felt in a relative short time, and its success then could become the capital to develop a sense of confidence in the community to achieve greater changes. The concepts and strategies can be big, but its implementation should start from small things. Starting from a few small things in the fields of some farmers, could have a major impact and sustainability in the long term. Therefore, in the first year, the program focused only on four aldeia, that is one aldeia per partner agency. AHCAE focused in Aldeia Bebu, CECEO in Aldeia Haemnanu, BIFANO in Aldeia Saben, and FFSO in Aldeia Lacufuan. In the same time World Neighbors also developed strategies to strengthen capacity of the partner NGOs. In those aldeias, various technologies for the management of permanent farms and livestock were introduced, such as terraces with gliricidia and calliandra hedgerows, incorporation of organic matter from cuttings into the soil, in-hole 36

and in-row tillage, the planting of perennial crops, and development of vegetable gardens and beans. From a Few Farmers in the Four Aldeia to 1,604 Households in 23 Aldeia At the beginning of the program, between the years of 2005 and 2007, community development programs in the District of Oecusse were initiated in one aldeia per partner NGO. Given that at the time much rejection was experienced, it was decided to focus the program only on those farmers and families who where responsive. In Aldeia Bebu Suco Lelaufe Subdistrict Nitebe for example, after the 369 families who initially participated withdrew because their expectations to get material aid were not met, AHCAE worked only with seven responsive households through individual mentoring. CECEO in Aldeia Haemnanu initially worked only with one group in Bairo Nun’Atais consisting 18 households. The same thing happened with BIFANO in Aldeia Aldeia Saben and FFSO in Lacufuan. Along with the emergence of evidence of the benefits program participants could gain, more and more people became interested to be involved in the program. By December 2010, already 1,604 households were actively participated and gained direct benefits from the activities facilitated by the program.

Mutual Trust, the Initial Capital of Closeness To outsiders — regardless of who they are, government official or field workers — the relationship and closeness with the community in the program area could only be achieved if there is sense of mutual trust between the two parties and the communities believe that the presence of outsiders will bring positive change to their lives. Of course there are many strategies and methods required to ensure that the presence of outsiders in the communities is really beneficial to the communities, and this it must be proved in a relative short time. While outsiders should believe that the communities could do something to improve their own lives, just with a little support for the things which can not be obtained the communities themselves. The outsiders should also believe that the various ideas and plans that emerge from the discussions will be followed up by the communities. Of course it takes strategy to ensure that the actions that have been planned can be realized. If it turns out that the plans which have been made are not followed up, the outsiders should not immediately judge the people as being “lazy”. There certainly are problems behind it, and it requires the patience of outsiders to listen, discuss it with the people, to find a solution. 37

There are three things that should be avoided by outsiders at all times. First, never offer the communities concepts that are too large or too complicated because the communities’ ability to analyze is sometimes very limited. The communities could be confused and bewildered. Most of the time the communities require only practical actions and pragmatic responses their needs. Outsiders may have great concepts, but those concepts need to be systematically discussed step by step. Second, never promise anything to the communities if its realization can not be guaranteed. Grandiose promises without a clear realization will only lead to disappointment and mistrust of the communities to the outsiders. An adverse effect will be that any agency coming to communities in the future will not gain the trust of the communities. Third, never blame the communities, especially when publicly expressed. People’s confidence will immediately disappear, and they would not take any initiatives for fear of being wrong. Because the basic principle of empowerment is to foster the communities’ confidence, it is important for outsiders to develop the communities’ confidence by cultivating a sense of pride and at the same time avoiding actions that can hurt people’s confidence. Mutual trust between the communities and the outsiders is the initial capital for the establishment of a psychological closeness and egalitarian relationships between the outside parties and the communities. If this trust has managed to grow and develop, it will be easier for outsiders to work with communities and build the changes in society.

Staying in the Program Area; A Requirement for Field Workers Field workers, being the spearhead of the program are the most influential key actors determining the success or failure of the program. As the spearhead, the Miguel da Cunha (CECEO Field Worker); working and learning together with the communities is a typical characteristic of an community empowerment approach.


field workers are required to be always present and to be close to the people with whom they work. This close relationship between the field workers and the communities will generate trust between these two parties, and this in turn will help the people to move and be motivated to adopt the program’s ideas or raise new ideas in accordance with their dreams and their potential to realize those dreams. Of course, this close relationship can only develop if the field workers “live-in” and sleep in different places in the program location. Taking up residence in the program’s location also allows the field workers to discuss with members of the group at night, as nighttime is the most effective time to organize meetings, develop discussions with farmers, as well as raising their motivation and to build their dreams for a better future. In addition to the intensity of the assistance, the quality of field workers who are working with the communities are of course another important factor which determines the success or failure of the program. Having patience, empathy for the people, and not be patronizing are important key determinants for field workers to be accepted by the communities. This is evident in some areas of the program; the lack of intensity of the assistance from the field worker in Aldeia Saben, Suco Bobometo — one of BIFANO’s program area — for example, because the field worker did not stay overnight in the field but came and went, was the primary cause for the lack of progress of the program in this area. Another reason for the slow progress of the program in this area was the high turnover rate of the field workers that occurred here; every time there was a change of the field worker, the process of building relationships between communities and the field worker had to be started all over again from zero. It was only in 2010 when the field worker had the commitment to stay and settle in the area that program in Aldeia Saben showed substantial progress. It is also not necessary for field workers to be highly educated in terms of formal schooling, but they must be smart and open-minded. The average educational level of the field workers of the four partner NGOs was “only” high-school or agricultural high school. But, of course in order to be able to contribute optimally, there should

The family of Mauricio Seco during their preparations for planting: one of the key farmers in Aldeia Bebu who is now a driving force in the aldeia.


Markus (standing the most left), the Field Staff of CECEO who lives in Aldeia Haemnanu and is always with the farmers in their farms.

be structured efforts to strengthen their capacity, ranging from the technical issues of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, saving and credit schemes, and health; to more strategic matters such as participatory methodologies, facilitating skills, community organizing, the concept of development with a vision of empowerment, and other relevant matters.



Learning from Mistakes and Focusing on Success

“Now we no longer need to sell our labor simply to buy rice. The produce of our farms are enough to feed our families. Why should we go down to Oecusse to work in other people’s rice fields when we already have enough food!”; This was the expression of the farmer program participants in Aldeia Haemnanu, Bebu, Quanobe, Buqui, and several other aldeia when they were asked what about their feelings concerning the program right now. Before participating into the program, the maximum yield the farmers could get would only meet their food needs for six to seven months; and this was only in the terms of rice, corn, and several kinds of beans or vegetables. Sometimes the farmers and their families ate only plain rice without any vegetables. When asked about the pride they were feeling, their answer was almost the same; “I am proud because I am able to manage permanent farms, and produce more foods that are tasty and nutritious!”. The success achieved by the farmers who are participating in the program is certainly also a reason for pride for all parties involved in the program, especially

The Land on a hill in Aldeia Queno was barren because each season plants and even houses collapsed in the wind. After the planting of trees for windbreaks, it is now filled with various plants.

Left: Wild tubers are now widely cultivated in the farmers’ fields. One such field belongs to Lucia Poto in Aldeia Noetoco. Right: Abilio Oqui, a farmer in Aldeia Saben is proud of the yield of his farm yeild, which was beyond expectations.

for the staff of the implementing agencies. Their hard work, their perseverance and conviction about the importance of developing an approach based on the vision of empowerment has gained results. Of course these results were not achieved through work that followed a simple straight course; a myriad of challenges had to be faced in the field and these challenges became material for reflection in the search for more effective strategies and innovations to make the achievement of the expected program outcomes possible.

Learning from Mistakes To achieve its success, the program managers have been through a long road, tiring and sometimes with a broken spirit. The journey has not been a smooth one; they experienced failures and made many mistakes. However, the failures and mistakes did not make them lose heart, but rather became an opportunity for learning. Some mistakes made by the program staff at the beginning of the program were:


a. Collective Gardens are Considered a Powerful Learning Media One way to motivate farmers to adopt various farming technologies, including the cultivation of vegetable gardens, is to prove those technologies first. To prove whether a technology will succeed or fail, there should be a model farm where examples of the technologies can be directly observed by the farmers. At the beginning of the program, when this idea of a model farm was being discussed, many groups decided to manage one of the farms of one of their members as a collective farm. This method was based on the experience of NGOs in Indonesia and also in Oecusse, which they had visited. At the time, the program executors believed that this method could be implemented in their program areas. This was also influenced by the group members who wanted to develop a collective farm, and not individual farms. This method was also chosen by the communities to reduce the risks if the applied technology failed. The four partner NGOs assumed that if the technology developed at the collective farm proved to give good results, then the technologies would be adopted extensively by members of the group. Based on these assumptions, in the planting season of 2007 many groups were encouraged to develop collective farms as model farms and learning sites. Many groups developed vegetable gardens, other groups developed agroforestry plantation models by combining various technologies and various types of trees. Unity and cohesiveness of the group members were very visible at the time of opening of the gardens and the application of various technologies. Problems began to emerge in 2008, during the harvest season and just before the next planting season. On the average, for collectively managed vegetable

A collective vegetable garden in Aldeia Queno in 2007. The land has taken over by the land owner.


gardens, there were no problems in the sharing the produce because each group member had a clear number of beds made for which they had the responsibility in providing organic fertilizers, plant care and in harvesting the yields. However, after two or three planting cycles, the land-owner claimed that the land belonged to him and asked the group members to no longer use the land as a collective site to develop the group’s vegetable garden. The land that had became quite fertile with the addition of much organic materials (manure, green manure, compost) during the time it was used for vegetable gardening was taken back just like that. Both the members of the group and the field worker from the partner NGOs could not do anything because it was indeed true that the land claimed was the property of the farmer who claimed the land. Although this had caused discomfort among the group members, the problem did not to cause the group to disband. Each group member who still wanted to develop a vegetable garden just developed it in their own plots of land by adopting various technologies they learned in the collective farm. This happened in all regions which developed a collective vegetable garden, except in Bairo Buqui. Here they remained solid as a group and until now they continue to develop collective vegetable gardens on a single stretch of land in Noe Papa. A worse problem happened when the collective farm was developed as an agroforestry farm model. At harvest time, because the land used as collective garden was their property, the farm owners claimed that it was only the owners who were is entitled to all the harvest of the existing field. It did not stop there; the owners of the fields also prohibited the group members to use the fields as a collective farm during the preparatory stage of the planting season in 2008. As a result, conflicts arose between the groups members and the land owners. As it happened, in many areas the land owners were the heads of their groups, and the groups which had been solid until now broke into two groups, and some even Vegetable gardens in Noe Papa, Bairo Buqui, collective gardens that are still maintained.


disbanded. Dissolving the group was done to remove the head of the group from membership who they felt had betrayed them, after which they formed a new group. Reflecting on those challenges and the issues that arose, the four partner NGOs met to exchange the bitter experiences that they faced in the field, discuss the various challenges that occurred and to find other innovations to improve the situation. The strategy which was agreed on at the time was to encourage farmers to apply the various technologies in their own plots. In these individually owned plots, the program staff of the partner agencies together with the farmers owning the plots made terraces, planted as gliricidia and leucaena hedgerows to strengthen the terraces, dug holes to plant tree seedlings, and used in-hole tillage to plant corn and vegetables. The field workers then intensively assisted the farmers who wanted to develop a permanent farm. Although this was initially done only by a few farmers, but for these early stages it was enough as “capital� for its the dissemination process. Considering the potential conflicts that would occur, since early 2007 World Neighbors has reminded AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO, and FFSO to refrain from the development of collective farms as a model or as a learning site. But the four partner organizations were adamant in their stance and assumptions, and in the end, they had to learn a hard lessons from the problems that occurred in the development of the collective farms. b. Campaigns will Accelerate the Process of Change A campaign is a strategy to disseminate ideas or influence by way of gathering many people in one place in order to convey ideas, or demonstrate something. Considering his background and experience in politics, this method was adopted by Domingos Ati (Director of AHCAE); the idea being that when many people gathered in one place, the ideas offered and the influences expected can expand rapidly and sporadic. But, as it turned out this method was not effective. In fact, it raised new problems given that many people still expected to receive material assistance for various activities. After the campaign activities, they demanded assistance in the form of rice or money. However, both AHCAE as well as the three partner NGOs learned a lot from this event. Such campaigns, as it turned out, are not an effective way to trigger a change in agriculture. Since then, AHCAE no longer applied campaigns as part of their program strategy. They really learned their lesson! They then decided to use other strategies in their program approach, both providing individual assistance 45

A Joint Action Making Terraces Ends in Catastrophe

In January 2006, AHCAE which has a quite extensive network, attempted to use the joint action approach in Aldeia Bebu to build terraces on a large stretch of land behind the Health Post Bebu. Invited to participate in these activities were, among others, all chefe bairo, aldeia, suco in the area of Suco Lelaufe. Even district level officials such as the Regional Secretary of State of Oecusse, the District Administrator, department heads and directors of NGOs were also invited and present to give their remarks at the event. The number of people involved reached thousands of people. The idea was presented, the benefits described, and demonstrations in building terraces were done. This approach was developed with the aim that after this joint action, each of participants would apply the terraces in their own fields rapidly and widespread. But no gains were made; instead problems were reaped. Several months after this event, the participants who where involved at the event, demanded payment for their presence at the event from AHCAE. Although it was explained many times that this activity was supposed to be a joint action to improve the area, whereas AHCAE was merely providing some support in the form of food and drinks, the people would not listen. In fact, one of the field workers at the time, Domingos da Costa (fondly called Lopo) almost started fighting with the Chefe Aldeia Bebu who continued his demands to be paid. The problem did not stop there. A few months after the completion of the activities, none of the people who participated made any single terrace in their fields. The thirteen farmers’ groups which had been formed, had no activity whatsoever. As a result, all group activities eventually stopped altogether! Domingos Ati (AHCAE Director) and Domingos da Costa (AHCAE Supervisor) and farmer-to-farmer learning visit within the program area or between program areas.

Focus on Dreams and Successes The success of the farmers participating in this food security program was not achieved instantly, but through a long and often exhausting process. However, one thing that was always emphasized and continued to be endorsed to the implementing staff in performing their roles as change agents was that “We will Succeed!� The conviction of this definite success became a source of positive energy for the program implementers to continue their attempts to reach program goals in a variety of ways. 46

Above: Appreciative Inquiry Training, brought new inspiration to World Neighbors’ approach and of its partner NGOs. Below: Recognizing one’s own power, one stage in the application of Appreciative Inquiry.

This positive energy was then materialized in positive forms and ways in every program approach.. This positive approach was strongly influenced by the paradigm of Appreciative Inquiry which in recent years has become World Neighbors’ spirit in its approach. Beginning with a training on Appreciative Inquiry from Vibrant Facilitation — a service providing NGO from Indonesia —which was attended by some program staff, a positive approach was always part of all phases of the program. Various positive approaches developed in each phase of the community development program ranged from building a dream, planning, monitoring, to review and evaluation.


a. Building a dream. In discussions within the communities, field workers always encouraged people to have dreams for a better future. Their goals could be related to the productivity of their farms, the condition of the natural resources of the area, financial conditions, and matters relating to common needs. At the family level, field workers encouraged and facilitated program participants to develop their dream farm by creating a sketch of their ideal farm. At the level of the aldeia or larger agricultural areas, field workers always encouraged people to make a map of the areas showing their aspirations for those areas in the next 10 years. b. Planning. Based on these dreams, they then made plans, using their resources they had, and sought or mobilized other resources which they did not have. At the household level, based on their dream farm, they were encouraged to develop a management plan for their farms. At the group level, people were encouraged to continue strengthen their capacities in accordance with the group that they desired, and at the aldeia and suco level, the aldeia and suco government was encouraged to develop a strategic plan in accordance with their dream aldeia and suco. c. Implementation. Every time there was a farmer who managed to develop certain activities, this was always exposed and their farms were used as a place for learning visits. Successful farmers were also invited to give testimony on their success, give special presentations in the semi-annual farmers’ meetings or the World Neighbors annual meetings. Some farmers even asked to become trainers for other farmers. At the group level, there was no negative penalty imposed on farmers who were “lazy” or “indolent”, but rather members of the group prioritized the management of the farms of those farmers in the groups’ work activities, Reflection meetings among World Neighbors staff and partner NGOs, regular meetings are conducted each month.


Positive “Punishment” for the Indolent I became a field worker in Haemnanu since the beginning of 2007 to 2010. I was going from house to house and from field to field almost everyday, to build motivation and work with farmers in their farms. One of the group activities that we developed together were rotational working shifts, especially for activities that required extra power, such as terracing, in-row and in-hole tillage. However, during this work-scheme, there were always group members who defaulted and were not involved in the work shifts. The group then agreed to give them some punishment. When there was an absent group member who did not join the work shifts, the next day the farmers group would go together and work on the farm of the group member who was absent. If there are farmers who are not diligent in attending the group discussions, I also will go and just to visit him/her, without offending the person. The group even agreed to hold the next meeting at group member’s house who were absent. Apparently, this way to motivate made the “punished” farmers feel “‘disturbed’ and they finally reengaged with the group and actively involved themselves in the group activities. This proved that “positive punishment” is far more productive than giving negative sanctions. Nunes Bernardino (Dino), a former field worker CECEO who now works at MAF d. Monitoring and Evaluation. Monitoring and evaluation activities, whether conducted at the farmer groups level, at the aldeia level community forum meetings, the semi-annual farmer’s meetings at the level of partner agencies, as well as the annual World Neighbors meeting, were mostly carried out to give appreciation to the success of farmers to be used as learning site for other farmers, rather than discussing farmers’ failures. But this positive approach did not mean ignoring the failures or the lack of success that occurred. Failures were not viewed as something negative, but as challenges. If there were problems in the implementation of activities, discussions were focused on finding a more effective strategy to achieve success.

Growing Pride One characteristic of the rural poor is the feeling of being insecure or less confident. In this condition, it will be very difficult for them to communicate with outsiders, 49

and even to develop their ideas and dreams for a better future. This is a challenge for those parties who work in the development of marginalized communities, namely how to grow and develop the self-confidence of the poor so that that they will be are able to do something to improve their lives. The strategy that has been developed by World Neighbors together with its partner NGOs after identifying the responsive people was to work with them intensively. If there was already a household or group or community forum that had been successful, even on a very small scale, they were always given the opportunity to present their success in various meetings. They also often got to receive learning visits from other farmers, other groups, even people from other regions. It turns out that those ways to promote and provide opportunities to perform has given those who succeeded a sense of pride in their success. Pride in its positive sense, and not being arrogant. But it doesn’t stop with pride. Simultaneously, their confidence also increases, to develop new ideas and innovations for their families, provide motivation to other members of the group, and even to share their experiences to other groups and to other regions. They often have also become volunteer facilitators for other groups, both on request from the program or on their own initiative. Increased pride and the confidence of the people who participated in the program have been very helpful in expanding program coverage and improving the quality of the programs.

A farm visit to Mario Nesi’s farm in Aldeia Bebu, one of the monitoring methods done by farmers themselves.



Mutual Mocking to Encourage Healthy Competition

Mutual mocking or making fun of each other is a habit among farmers, between World Neighbors staff, its partners and farmers, as well as between the staff of the partner agencies. They poke fun of their partners who have not shown any success to be proud off. This habit of playfully mocking each other happens at every opportunity, including during official meetings. For others who listen to this mocking done in public, it may make them feel uncomfortable because it seems as degrading a person’s dignity. But as it turns out, this mutual mocking is very effectively used by the farmers and program staff to motivate each other; and for those who are mocked to get up and prove that they are also able to make changes. However, this playful mutual mocking can be done, be fun and effective only when the relationship between farmers and between staff of partner NGOs are very close. The closeness of the relationships is characterized among others by openness in saying what is on people’s mind, share whatever there is, without communication barriers between the field staff and the community members. This closeness of the relationship provides opportunities for mutual correction and encouraging each other in ways that ‘intimate’. In addition, to this personal proximity, this poking fun can also done when there are facts that quite a lot of people have indeed been successful.

“Making fun of each other; a regular part of World Neighbors annual meeting or during field visits” In accordance with the theory of Diffusion of Innovations, which has been tested by Rogers (1983), there are enough people who are in the groups of Early Adopters and Late Adopters, who have slower adoption rates.12 It is these groups who 12 Rogers, Everett M (1983). Diffusion of Innovatioan. The Free Press; A Division of Macmillan Publishing C., Inc., New York.

are targeted by the farmers and program staff in their mocking as an attempt to accelerate the adoption rate of program participants. However, the facts are also indicating that the mutual mocking has not been the only factor that influenced the motivation of people to move in the program, but it has also been influenced by the intensity and quality of extension and mentoring by the field staff in program sites. Tumult in Saben! Saben is one of the four aldeia which first became World Neighbors’ program location in addition to Aldeia Bebu, Haemnanu, and Lacufuan. At the World Neighbors’ annual meeting in Oeccuse held in December 2010, where representative program participants from each aldeia were given the opportunity to present their success, we were made fun of by farmers from other aldeias because we were considered unsuccessful. Even Pak Wayan in front of the forum which was attended by more than 200 people, teased us like this; “The people in Lacufuan have harvested coffee and pineapples, the food production in Haemnanu is abundant, people in Bebu have also already harvested coffee. What did Saben harvest? “ At that time we were mad! We the representatives from Aldeia Saben felt publicly humiliated. However, we did not express our anger at the time. After returning to Saben, we held an emergency meeting with all group members, the chefe aldeia, and chefe de suco to discuss what happened in the annual meeting. The meeting lasted until at 3 a.m. and came to the conclusion that the mocking which experienced at the annual meeting was actually true. Since then, we were determined to improve ourselves and wanted to prove that we are capable. The determination became more intense when some of us traveled to Pune, Haemnanu and Buqui and saw people’s successes there. Our determination was also encouraged by Sipri, the field worker in Aldeia Saben who currently was loyally working with us and who encouraged us to development farm plans and group plans, and reflect on our progress together at each regular monthly meeting. We are went looking for banana saplings to Padimau in Oecusse, Gliricidia cuttings to Pune, and other materials we needed. Next year, we want to show everyone that there is something interesting and to be proud of in Saben. Abilio Oqui, Pedro Ili, Angelo Cusi, Albino Yaena, Anisedi Poto, Francis Eko, Anita Making, and Filomina Sunni. 52

Teracing which has just been finished in Aldeia Saben, after the farm was made fun off by visitors.

When can I Eat Banana in Your Farm? My farm is often a place to be visited by farmers from other regions. If they visit my farm, I usually take a mature banana to be grilled or boiled and eaten in the fields with them. When the learning visit has finished, I would asked the farmer: “Now you have eaten bananas in my field. When can I eat a banana in your farm? “ I do this so that the visiting farmers want to grow bananas or anything else productive in their own farms. Mauricio Seco, a farmer from Aldeia Bebu Seedlings as Souvenirs In every time there was farmers visit to our place, we always take them around from one farm to another farm. We have a lot of discussions about how to manage farms properly. From the discussions, I came to know what plants they have planted. Based on this, I always give as a souvenir some tree seedlings of the kind they do not yet have. I ask the seedlings to be planted in their farm and tell them that one day I will come to see the trees planted. Cosmas Ena, a farmer from Aldeia Haemnanu 53

Even among the farmers, especially during monitoring and visit from farmers from other aldeia, the mutual mocking also became a habit. The mocking was not just done verbally but also used symbols which were given to the visiting farmers to motivate them to manage their farms better. In contrast to the habit of the farmers, the joking that occurred between World Neighbors partner NGOs staff has been more ‘rough’. In fact, Wayan Tambun as the World Neighbors Program Coordinator for Timor Leste used this approach to the staff of the partner agencies. When the author asked the partner NGOs staff’s about what their attitude and response was to the joking and mocking, they answered that it was no problem! Making fun of each other makes us feel like being among brothers, some times we get angry and annoyed but we know that it is for the good; to encourage all people to do better.



Action-Learning, a Key to Success of Capacity Strengthening of Partner NGOs and Communities

The capacities that are evolving among the farmers are not limited to just technical capacities in managing permanent farms and the related technologies, but also capacities related to life skills such as the ability to speak and formulate opinions, to think and analyze, to argue, and to develop organizations. In the four years of their cooperation with World Neighbors, the partner NGOs also made significant progress. The pride that they now are able to manage programs and gain the confidence of other donors is felt by all partners. The development of the capacities of the staff of partner agencies and farmers which was achieved in approximately four years is influenced by several factors. One key factor which is consistently applied by World Neighbors in its program approach is action learning. The action learning applied by World Neighbors is done at various levels and in various aspects of the program, from the level of partner agencies to the farmers and other stakeholders.

Learning Visits to Successful Areas In many cases, community development activists often conduct a variety of trainings to strengthen the communities’ capacities in technical matters (including practical applications), methodologies, as well as in more strategic matters. However, when the trainings are completed, only a small proportion of the trainees do some followup and apply the knowledge and skills they gained from the trainings. Observing this, the training organizers often accuse the community members of being lazy, ignorant, and of other negative attributes. The question is; for whose benefit were the trainings actually conducted? Where the training topics really appropriate to the needs of the communities? Or, were the trainings organized just to pursue the fulfillment of the program’s activity targets?

Learning visit and motivation of farmer representatives from YMTM-TTU to Bairo Leolbatan, Aldeia Lacufuan.

In World Neighbors’ view such accusations are ungrounded as it is World Neighbors’ philosophical stance that there are no lazy people on the face of the earth. There are only people who do nothing because they have no vision in their heads about the dreams which they want to achieve, and they do not know what they should do to achieve those dreams. The dreams are the basic capital to make people move and do something. The dreams should be concrete, visible and tangible. Therefore, in World Neighbors view, it is important to “create a picture” in people’s minds about the better future that they aspire to. One way to help people to “create a picture” in their minds is through learning visits to areas that have been successful, either visits between regions within the District Oecusse, to other districts in Timor Leste, or to Indonesia. The study visits have been initiated starting in 2006 by inviting representatives of partner agencies and communities to participate in a visit to Sumba. A higher intensity of study visits to other districts in Timor Leste and other areas in Indonesia happened in 2007 and 2008. If we counted the number of participants, there have been more than 100 people, both program staff from partner agencies and community representatives who have been given the opportunity to join learning visits to successful sites of World Neighbors program areas in Indonesia. While the number of people who have been involved in visits to other areas in Oecusse and other districts in Timor Leste is countless. When viewed in terms of cost, study visits do require substantial funding. Even more so for learning visits to Indonesia which require significant amounts of money to obtain passports, visa, and airfare for all participants. In contrast, the funds needed for visits to other districts within the territory Oecusse or within Timor Leste are not too much. 56

The results? They are incredible! Study visits to areas which have succeeded are very effective to “create a picture� in people’s heads, they helped to inspire people about the future they would like to accomplish. The follow-up after the study visits should be really concrete. Besides sharing and disseminating the results of study visits to their colleagues, the participants of the visits were also very eager to do something in order to realize the dream as they had seen in the area visited. It was this eagerness of the communities which led to the training topics needed to achieve these dreams. Those needs were expressed by the community groups to their partner agencies of even directly to World Neighbors. The training and learning needs that arose after the learning visits included such subjects as terracing, in-row tillage and in-hole tillage, the development of family forests, credit and saving schemes, and even the processing of local foods. Thus, a clear dream of success in the minds of the communities will generate inspiration, stimulate the spirit and senses, and encourage people to do something to improve their own lives. When people are inspired, it is not necessary to stuff them with a stack of trainings which are not necessarily appropriate to their needs because people know what they need.

developIng tHougHt, feelIng, And ActIon; tHree pIllArs of leArnIng The action learning methodology has been used by World Neighbors is based on three pillars, namely developing thinking, feeling, and acting. Learning will occur optimally when we promote a learning process that simultaneously can stimulate thoughts, feelings and actions in an integrated manner. These three things are like a triangle, which require a balance among thoughts, feelings, and actions in the learning process (See Figure 3).

Figure 3. Learning Triangle

Reflecting on the learning processes of the past, many of the learning activities just emphasized the development of thought through trainings in the classroom alone. If the trainees were lucky there would be some opportunity to learn about action by practicing what they have learned. However, such processes are skewed because there is a one important learning component that


Farmers-to-farmers farm visit in AHCAE’s program area; one way of developing the feelings and motivation to build better farms.

is forgotten and has not been included in the learning process; that of developing feeling. Feeling could be developed from what is seen and felt by the learning participants, the results of which will color the thoughts and actions of the learning participants. The thoughts and actions emerging are a result of an awareness growing strongly in the learning participants. Various techniques have been used by World Neighbors and its partner NGOs in triggering the process of feeling within the learning activities. In addition to learning visits, as discussed earlier, which have proven to carve out a powerful dream of the future for the participants of the visits, there are several other techniques used, either by the partner agencies or community groups. The song “Kol Aen Ana”13 , for example, which is loaded with moral messages toward the adequacy of the food is always played and sung on various occasions. In addition, many groups composed their own songs and sang them together creating a cheerful atmosphere when they worked together. BIFANO had their own specialty in developing feeling, namely through the performance of short skits on the problems emerging in society. This activity was often used as an opening of learning activities to trigger a process of discussion and build critical awareness. Whatever the learning topics, both at the community and at the partner NGOs level, they were always regularly reflected upon to see their effectiveness and outcomes. The action learning approach of “reflection-action-reflection” is what made the capacity improving process of the staff and farmers assisted by World 13 This song is in the Dawan dialect, arranged by Frans Siki. The song asks people to move more dynamically to manage their farms and planting various kind of crops to achieve foods sufficiency


Neighbors’ partner NGOs increase rapidly; so rapid that in some farmers groups, among others the Forum Hit’An Rasik in Aldeia Buqui, a culture of learning has developed. Currently, some farmers have already become facilitators for other farmers.

Preferring To be a Farmer Rather than a Chefe de Suco My friends often encourage me to run for Chefe de Suco in the elections, but I did not budge. By being a farmer just like now, my family does not lack food, I could afford to buy a motorcycle and to fix my house, and I could buy some land. If I am asked to be a trainer or a resource person, I also get an allowance. In addition, in two to three years from now my coffee will be ready to be harvested. I could also teach new techniques to other farmers. So, what else should I want? If I became the Chefe de Suco, I would not be certain that I could be like this! Simao Quelo, Chairman of the Forum Hit’An Rasik, Aldeia Buqui

Although Widowed, I Can Take Care of My Family I am a widow with five children. In the past, when I was not yet a member of the group, each year we would have a lack of food. We sometimes used to eat just plain rice. However, after becoming a group member, my life has changed. By being actively involved in my group, nowadays I can process food and sell it around the bairo. The food that I sell I made myself; tofu, tempe, soybean powder, and cakes; depending on the season, but the best-selling is the soybean powder which is used as raw material for making soy milk. Foodstuffs I obtain from my own farm. I have to buy sugar, flour, and oil only which I could not produce by myself. From selling around in a day, I could earn US $ 5 to 15. With the money I earned, I am able to buy food, household equipments, clothing and pay school expenses. Mama Rosa Lapo Colo, a farmer from Aldeia Naituna Suco Abani, Sub-district Pasabe


A process of making cassava chips in Aldeia Bebu as follow-up after learning visit to YMTM’s program areas.

Farmer Organization, a Vehicle for Community Learning The group approach is one method of organizing farmers which is commonly used by community development programs implementing agencies around the world. It is expected that through these groups the efficiency as well as the effectiveness of the program will be improved. However, in contrast with the general view above, through the group approach developed by World Neighbors and its partner NGOs in Oecusse, farmer groups are viewed as a learning forum for farmers to be able to manage their own lives. In the group, people learn to plan, implement as well as monitor and evaluate their own programs. They also learn to be democratic, learn to make commons decisions, learn how to integrate gender, learn to speak and express opinions, learn to be self-reliant, and various other life skills. In addition to farmers’ groups which members generally consists of eighth to 12 households, there are community forums which accommodate those farmer groups at the aldeia level. The aldeia level community forums aim to strengthen the farmer’s organizational base at the aldeia level to build collective actions related to the communities’ needs. The forums are also aimed to promote a more dynamic governance of the suco in order to prepare the suco to accept the decentralization of development policies and of support from the central government based on the suco’s planning. Uniquely in every community forum at the aldeia level, they established a community meeting hall as a community learning center at the aldeia. These 60

One of the learning activity in the meeting hall of Community Forum Hit’An Rasik in Aldeia Buqui.

places are called the “Centro Treinamento Comunidade” or community learning centers. The building of theses meeting halls were almost entirely a carried out and funded by the communities themselves. Support from World Neighbors partner NGOs was limited only to the cement to build the foundations and nails, while other materials, including labor and food for the workers during the process of building the meeting halls were contributed by the communities themselves. In addition, there were also agroforestry model farms, models of stables for different kinds of livestock, sanitation and other facilities built around the meeting halls. Communities could learn from the models developed around this community learning center. This is where farmers learn to organize in order to manage their lives in sustainable way. The dreams to be achieved from the learning center model are: • As a vehicle or an umbrella organization for farmer groups in the area of one aldeia. • As a center of learning activities (training, meetings, practices, etc.). • As a service center for Savings and Credit Groups which exist in every aldeia, among others to facilitate the access to funds for community members at the aldeia level. • As a trigger of suco development movements, through coordination and cooperation with the aldeia and suco governments. • As the vehicle to build the collective actions related to the community’s common needs at the aldeia level. For example, conservation of the areas around water


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sources, road repair, construction of water systems, control of free grazing and of slash and burn cultivation, etc. As a place to discuss and develop innovative ideas for the progress of development in the aldeia and suco, including the planning methodology, holistic approaches, etc. As a vehicle to accommodate the aspirations and the small voices of the community which tend to be a marginalized or forgotten, in order that they are taken into account and gain access to and gain the benefits of development which occurs in their aldeia. As a bridge between the needs of communities and community groups (farmer groups, Savings and Credit Groups, small business, etc.) and the suco government and other relevant parties. Provide services and technical assistance to newly established groups in the aldeia according to their needs. As a strategy to ensure the sustainability of development processes that have been facilitated by the program.

By December 2010, there were already 20 aldeia (of the 23 aldeia in the work area of World Neighbors and its four partner NGOs) which had a community learning center. In order to realize these dreams, since 2008 World Neighbors together with its four partner agencies have carried out various efforts to ensure that the community learning centers functioned optimally and effectively. In the early stages, World Neighbors in cooperation with its four partner NGOs provided a few sheets of plywood which could be used to post the results of discussions during the learning process. In addition, the program also contributed some tarpaulin The use a poster of micro-watershed management technologies in Community Forum of Tafnekan in Aldeia Lacufuan. Its aim was to make the learning process easier.


sheets so that the learning participants could sit comfortably in an egalitarian position. Various learning materials such as posters, flip-charts, and booklets relating to various issues of the program were also distributed to the people’s forum at the aldeia level. The results were not in vain. So far, there has been a lot of progress. The community forums at the aldeia level are really functioning effectively as learning places. Innovative ideas often emerge out of the discussions conducted at the meeting halls. Each of the forums have also a saving and credit group which has become the center for financial resources for the community at the aldeia level. The forum leaders are also very active in visiting and assisting the groups in their aldeia. Even the suco level strategic planning processes were also encouraged by the forum’s leaders. Collective Action Making Terraces in Netenoke Netenoke is one of the bairos within Aldeia Fatubijae, Suco Bobocase, which is assisted by FFSO. When compared to the 22 other aldeias, the level of technology adoption in this region was very slow. The average increase in food production was also the lowest in comparison with other regions. This has happened because of many factors, including the ineffective assistance system. Farmer groups in Netenoke started to show some movement in mid-2010. This happened due to a fairly fundamental change in terms of assistance, including learning visits to the aldeia of Haemnanu which was assisted by CECEO. The community movement could be more clearly felt so after the screening of an animation film on hydrology on August 25, 2010. Through the discussion during the film’s screening, people’s awareness to manage their lands in more sustainable way was intensified. They decided to manage an empty stretch of land as a sedentary farm by applying terracing technology. They worked cooperatively moving from the field of one member to another. Approximately one month after the film’s screening and discussion, 37 hectares of land were terraced. This movement is continuing, and from day to day the farmers keep enthusiastic about improving themselves. Cipriano Obe (farmer) and Abel Mai Sila (field staff ) , Aldeia Fatubijae, Suco Bobocase, Sub-district Pante Makassar


A monthly regular meeting of saving and credit group in Aldeia Nefobai.

Savings and Credit Groups; A Financial Safety Net becomes a Prime Solution One characteristic of rural-uplands communities is a livelihood from dryland agriculture with seasonal revenues. People only have an income during the harvest season of food crops around April, or coffee in June, or vegetables from July to October. Other than in these months, people have almost no income source. This condition causes the rural-uplands communities to be economically vulnerable. In the months during which they have no income, people are often at a loss on how to meet their urgent needs, such as paying the costs of education, health, home improvement, as well as ceremonial adat affairs. Borrowing money from moneylenders often becomes the only solution, even though they are charged 20-50% interest per month, which is a very high interest rate. In addition, there are also people who are selling their assets such as livestock which are actually still too young to be sold and other valuables they might have. There are also those who pawn their land only to be able to fulfill some urgent needs. Based on these issues and referring to the experience of people’s economic empowerment in the region of Nusa Tenggara, World Neighbors in cooperation with its four partner NGOs developed Saving and Credit Groups activities. This activity is very different from the micro-credit schemes where financial resources are originally derived from loans provided by outside parties. The concept of Saving and Credit Groups is based on the concept of actual economic democratization where capital is accumulated solely by the group’s members through compulsory and voluntary monthly savings, the management is performed by an elected board 64

from among the group’s members, and its benefits or profits can only be given to the members. The development of the Saving and Credit Groups began with training on the necessary management and administrative procedures involving the staff of World Neighbors’ program partners. Some representatives of other agencies in Oecusse were also involved in the training which was conducted in February 2008. This activity was followed by promoting the Saving and Credit Groups in the program areas. Some Saving and Credit Groups began to take shape in 2008. Some started at the level of farmer groups, but there were also those who started at the aldeia level. The development the Saving and Credit Groups activities were not always as smooth as expected. The understanding and skills acquired by the program staff was not adequate enough to be able to effectively assist the Saving and Credit Groups formed. Although each partner organization had formed a Savings and Credit Group with the staff of their own organizations, as it turned out only a few of those staff became skilled in the book-keeping of the Saving and Credit Groups. Some staff of the partner NGOs were not able to effectively assists the Saving and Credit Groups in their area . As a result, many of the Saving and Credit Groups experienced difficulties, became irregular, and some even disband because of unclear financial management. Only the Saving and Credit Groups in the work area of BIFANO were running smoothly and developed quite rapidly. Realizing that a one-time training was not been sufficient to equip and sharpen the skills of program staff in administration and bookkeeping procedures for the Saving and Credit Groups, World Neighbors conducted a refresher training in October 2010 with a strategy and methods which were far different from previous training. The training modules were distributed to each participant, and a sample case was prepared. The facilitators gave only a brief introduction during the training process. Then, the case method was used where based on cases prepared by the facilitator each participant was given assignments of all kinds of book-keepings tasks to be carried out independently. Through this method, all participants felt that they became quite skilled and ready to assist the Saving and Credit Groups in their areas, although in some cases they still required assistance from World Neighbors or even from the administrators of other groups who had become more proficient and advanced in their skills. After the second training, the administration and book-keeping of all the Saving and Credit Groups did become more well-ordered. The development of the number of members and the accumulation of capital has advanced rapidly. By April 2011, there were 22 Saving and Credit Groups in the program area, the smallest amount 65

of capital gained by a group was US $ 3,000 whereas largest capital accumulation reached more than US $ 20,000. This capital was accumulated through the mechanism of a principal saving paid when a person first registered as a member of the Saving and Credit Groups, and mandatory savings and voluntary savings made during every monthly meeting. All of the existing capital in the Saving and Credit Groups are an accumulation of the members’ savings. Only five Saving and Credit Groups in BIFANO’s work area received capital injections from Caritas Australia, amounting to US $ 900 for each group.

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Tips for The Development of Saving and Credit Groups Facilitate study visits to Saving and Credit Groups which have succeeded to gain inspiration as well as motivation. Provide training on administrative and accounting procedures of Saving and Credit Groups for NGOs staff and or the officers of the Saving and Credit Groups using individual assignments a the learning method. Encourage the formation of a Savings and Credit Group within each NGO partner which involves only their staff as a medium for learning, internships, as well as honing the staff’s skills. Monitor and provide special assistance to less developed Savings and Credit Group. Conduct refresher trainings as required.

Division of Dividends; one of the Attractions to Join a Saving and Credit Group The availability of capital in the Savings and Credit Groups has reduced the economic vulnerability of the communities; now they can meet their immediate needs, and even could buy food when their food stock has been depleted. The Savings and Credit Groups have also become a source of capital for its members to develop economic enterprises, both at the household scale and as group enterprises. At the end of each fiscal year, each member also acquires a dividend from the group’s earnings in accordance with the amount of deposits they have in the Savings and Credit Groups and interest they paid to Savings and Credit Groups. The developments and the benefits gained by its members have inspired many people to join in existing Savings and Credit Groups. These Savings and Credit Groups have become very popular in the communities. It has even been found that it is not only farmers who join the groups, but there are also teachers, private employees and other professionals who are quite different from the farmers who have joined the Savings and Credit Groups as members. 66

Savings and Credit Groups Trigger Changes and Provide Multiple Benefits The presence of five Saving and Credit Groups in the work area of BIFANO started in 2008 and has provided many benefits to the communities. Today people have become accustomed to keep part of their earnings as savings in the Savings and Credit Groups. If there are urgent needs, such as schooling or health costs, they no longer borrow money from moneylenders with a high interest rate. Many members have borrowed money from the Saving and Credit Group for capital investments such as buying vegetable seeds, cattle for fattening or breeding, food processing, buy motorcycles to be motor-taxi, and for trade capital. Many people have also borrowed money from Savings and Credit Group to repair their houses. Besides the ease of obtaining loans with interest rates based on mutual agreement, at the end of each fiscal year each member will get a share of the group’s profits which amount depends on the total savings and interests paid during the fiscal year. The paying out of these dividends has also encouraged people to save and borrow so that by the end of the fiscal year they get a bigger share. Really! The Saving and Credit Groups have triggered change and provided multiple benefits to the communities. Daniel Pereira, the advisory and member of the Saving and Credit Group in Aldeia Quanobe, Noetoco

Building an Equal Partnership; the Spirit of Learning The action learning which runs in 23 aldeias within World Neighbors program area will certainly not be optimal if the values and philosophy of adult learning is not applied consistently. One value of adult learning is that of equal partnership relations between the program staff and the communities and among community members; no one should be raised or lowered over another. The program implementing staff should not be teachers, but rather learning companions of the farmers. The value of egalitarianism can only be realized if directly applied in a variety of activities. Listening to each other, being humble, not patronizing, mutual empathy, and respect each other even though sounding clichĂŠ but should continuously being echoed in a variety of opportunities to build an equal partnership.


Every time there is an activity, other parties concerned, including governments, indigenous organizations, and church agencies are always involved.

Building an equal partnership, should not only be done at the level of farmers’ group or forum alone, but World Neighbors also encouraged its partners to develop partnerships with others working at the aldeia, suco and district levels, including church agencies, adat/customary institutions, and government agencies. On each occasion, when there were activities organized by World Neighbors as well as by partner NGOs, others were always invited to participate.

Growing the Capacity and Reputation of Partner NGOs AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO, and FFSO; World Neighbors’ four partner NGOs who were prepared to become agents of change, were of course expected to become an autonomous institutions able to manage and develop their own community development program initiatives in Oecusse and other areas in the future. For that reason, action learning developed by World Neighbors with its partner NGOs consistently sought to strengthen the capacity of those partner NGOs. Strategies to strengthen the capacity of partner NGOs were done in various ways. Besides relating to technical and methodological matters which have been much discussed earlier, World Neighbors also gave considerable attention to the development of organizational capacities of its partners. Besides facilitating partner NGOs to develop strategic plans, they were also encouraged to develop and enable their organizational units as tools in the management mechanisms of 68

AHCAE, BIFANO, CECEO, and FFSO; are now agencies whose existence is to be considered by other donors.

their institution, develop standard operating procedures, develop job descriptions for each job function within the agency, assist the development of a good program development proposal addressed to World Neighbors as well as to other agencies. The performance appraisal of all staff referring to achievement indicators has been performed regularly at each monthly meeting, while the overall performance appraisal referring to the job descriptions was performed once a year. The flexible and friendly partnership between World Neighbors staff and staff of the partner NGOs at all levels regardless of position has been the main capital which was very strong in building interaction and mutual learning process to strengthen the partner NGOs’ capacities. The openness and the absence of communication barriers between World Neighbors and its partner NGOs made it very easy for the staff to discuss anything, anywhere, and anytime in a very informal atmosphere. Many discussions were conducted after working hours over a cup of coffee on the front porch World Neighbors’ office. In fact, many discussions were also conducted on the riverbank during a break in the journey from the field or on the dock while fishing. It was in this very informal and relaxed atmosphere that many innovative ideas to address the challenges and needs of the program emerged. 69

The reputations of AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO and FFSO have currently being much improved and carry weight in the development arena of the District of Oecusse in particular and of Timor Leste in general. Their reputation has not emerged out of nowhere nor was it obtained by sucking-up to important people. Their reputation has been grown out of the evidence of their achievements, the results of their work, and from the social changes which occurred in the program areas where they were working. The visits of various parties, from other development agencies, government and donors to the program area to see for themselves the changes that have occurred in the communities and the testimonies of the people during those visits have given a positive impression on those various parties. The changes that have occurred have become a reference that is often raised and discussed in various stakeholder meetings and provide a positive image and an impressive reputation for the four partner NGOs. Whatever the assessment of the parties about the work that has been achieved, it does not make the four partner NGOs conceited. There are still many things to be done in the communities in order to aim for greater social change. They have been accustomed to remain humble because only with that attitude will they continue to be open to keep learning in order to do even more.



Program Sustainability

Seeing the changes that are occurring in the communities who are assisted by World Neighbors and its four partner NGOs, we must critically ask: What will happen when the program is completed and program support is no longer provided? Will the community initiatives that have been growing continue to develop or not? This question has not escaped World Neighbors’ attention and has been thought about in designing the empowerment oriented program strategy in Oecusse. The question was what should the right strategy be for the two aspects of sustainability, namely the sustainability of the process and sustainability of the benefits, to occur. The process aspects of sustainability can be seen from the extent to which the learning processes in the communities which were started during the program would continue after the program is stopped. For example: Will the learning processes among farmers continue when the program stops? Will the community activities continue to operate in a participatory manner? Will the involvement of women remain an important part in the decision making process? Meanwhile, sustainability from the aspect of benefits will be concerned with the question to what extend the program results will still continue to provide benefits to the communities when the program is finished. For example: Will the existing water supply system continue to function? Will it be repaired by the community itself when damages occur? Will the savings and loans processes of the existing Saving and Credit Groups continue to run and will people still have access to loans when the program is completed? Will people still keep their livestock impounded and gain the benefits from keeping their livestock in pens? Will the various soil and water conservation technologies still be kept up so that it continues to reduce the rate of erosion and increase soil fertility? Of course there are many more examples of the sustainability of the benefits of the program.

Permanent farms by the application of soil and water conservation techniques are increasingly widespread, one indication of the program sustainability.

The strategy developed for sustainability as being mentioned will only give results if it was implemented in an early stage of the program. But it is clear that technically, sustainability can occur when the technologies implemented and adopted by the communities have proven to provide direct short term benefits during the implementation of the program, and the people who are applying these technologies have already proven those technologies and feel their benefits. Sustainability can also occur at the individual level, or at the groups and community levels. Even technologies that have been introduced and adopted, but then on the initiative of the community have been modified and developed in other forms in accordance with local needs and in local context, should be considered as part of the sustainability. One important prerequisite for the sustainability of the program is the development of social capital within the society. Social capital includes the formation of strong community groups, the growing solidarity among community members, and the presence of local leaders who emerge and develop naturally and who have proven abilities to take over the process and program management responsibilities and bring the people within their communities to move towards. Local leaders are not always formal leaders of an institution, for example chefe de suco, chefe aldeia, chefe bairo, traditional leaders, religious leaders, school principals, and so forth. In fact, many local leaders often grow and develop from ordinary people, key people who are responsive to new ideas and have a strong desire to continue learning and growing. With the ability and the evidence of the benefits that they already feel, they will be quite influential in their communities so that they can easily influence 72

Farmers voluntarily become community facilitators; another indicator of program sustainability.

others. To realize this social capital, capacity strengthening efforts of communities at various levels, either individual, groups, or communities, have been conducted during the project implementation.

Building Dreams of the Future, the Driving Energy of the Program Sustainability The first step and a prerequisite of sustainability is to build dreams for a better future. This strategy was carried out through learning visits to successful areas. In addition to being one of the learning methods as discussed in Section Five about Action Learning, this activity also aims to develop a picture about the choices of future that can be dreamed of by the communities. This is followed by the building of critical consciousness through topical discussions in the communities to discuss the people’s choices of the future in accordance with the local context and the potential. This is the key! The introduction of “new� technologies to the people before efforts to build their dream have been done will not proceed to run effectively. It is when the communities are able to determine what kind of future they dream of, people understand what they need and how to achieve their dreams; then, the program can introduce the technological choices to be adopted to achieve those dreams. The fulfillment of both prerequisites are the beginning of the process to develop strategies to ensure the sustainability. 73

Sketch of a dream farm and a dream aldeia; a means to describe community ideals.

Pioneering the Road to Sustainability Related to the issues discussed above, several strategies have been developed by the World Neighbors with its partner NGOs in developing sustainability over the implementation period of the program. Those strategies are: a. Provide individual technical assistance to responsive program participants. Although assistance is usually provided through groups, individual assistance to some people who have been responsive becomes very important in order to provide more intensive attention as well as accelerate the acquisition of benefits for that person. With the evidence of progress and the acquisition of these benefits, they will be able to attract people around him to participate in the program, and then imitate and adopt what they have done. b. Provide material support in limited types and quantities. To realize the communities’ dreams, they would need the support from outside parties. In agricultural development, the support needed, for instance, is seeds (vegetables, plantation crops, or fruits) and agricultural tools. In terms of development of perennial crops, fruits, and timber, World Neighbors and its partner NGOs avoided the provision of seedlings. World Neighbors only provided limited quantities of a few types of seeds and polybags. In this way, people were expected to learn how to make their own nurseries and continue 74

doing so, and when the support of the program will be stopped the communities have already adequate capacities and experience to create their own nurseries for the plants that they want to grow. The habit of Swapping Resources • Program participants in Aldeia Haemnanu, Pasabe, and Naituna, all within Suco Abani, Sub-district Pasabe, who wanted to develop coffee, always contacted a few people in Bairo Tono who did have coffee plants aged more than 10 years to get the coffee seeds. Because in general they still have family ties, they get it for free. • Program participants in Sub-district Nitibe, Oesilo, and some aldeias in Sub-district Pante Macassar who wanted to develop coffee and pineapples, usually ordered the plant material directly from some farmers in Aldeia Lacufuan. They obtained the coffee seeds and pineapple seedlings by way of buying or swapping it with chickens, sugar, or other goods. • Program participants who wished to develop pineapples also contacted directly some pineapple farmers at Aldeia Nibin, Suco Usi Taqueno. They obtained the seedlings by buying those at a price of US.$ 4 per sack containing about 100 pineapple saplings. • Program participants in some areas collected their own banana saplings from several places around the town of Oecusse, and then asked World Neighbors or partner agencies for transportation assistance to to carry those to their own areas. • The Nafael Community Forum in Aldeia Haemnanu often got orders for seedlings of taro and wild tubers and king grass cuttings from other program areas. They got it by buying. c. Bridging the relationship between farmers, between groups, even between regions. Besides aiming to build a process of mutual learning among communities, this relationship aims to build a process of exchanging resources, both seeds and seedlings. World Neighbors and its partner NGOs always urged people to visit areas that have the resources of seeds and seedlings, and then facilitate the process of communication among farmers about the types and amount of seeds they need. Furthermore, they themselves will be conducting the transactions without further assistance of the program, either by purchase, exchange with certain materials, or ask them for free. d. Strengthening the capacity of existing groups in planning, monitoring and evaluation. Aside from being a learning process, capacity building in this context 75

Anton Quefi, a local leader from Aldeia Saben is practicing discussion facilitation in a training of facilitators for community agricultural cadres.

is intended for individuals, families, groups and communities to get used to developing the dreams they want to achieve, developing strategies to achieve those dreams, developing plans which results can be measured, reflecting on the achievements of the plans which have been made, and drawing lessons from the processes that have been developed. e. Fostering local leadership. During program implementation, World Neighbors and its partners always encouraged the development of leadership behavior and qualities in the communities through the provision of opportunities to take on roles and responsibilities in the management of activities, to both men and women. If there are activities to be organized in the community, the program always strived to form local committees in which all the committee members came from the community. The role of World Neighbors and its partner NGOs was to monitor and be involved in the evaluation process at the end of activities, including the evaluation of the committee itself. At the time of evaluation, the main thing that was always put forward by World Neighbors and its partner NGOs, was the growing of confidence and community pride for the management of activities. While judging the communities will only spread negative energy in the communities, because this will have a negative impact on the self-confidence and emerging leadership qualities within the communities. f. Giving special attention to certain people who are responsive and are able to build collective actions within their communities. The responses of certain people are like germinating seeds; the emerging sprouts will need to be nurtured and maintained in order to grow well and become productive. The investment in learning opportunities to those who show responses and are able to mobilize others will give raise to local leaders of quality. 76

g. Encourage the formation as well as the strengthening of aldeia level community forums. When the formal vehicles in the communities do not function effectively, then a new breakthrough is needed which could lead to the emergence of new leadership in the communities. The establishment of aldeia level community forums as an umbrella organizations for the farmers groups in the aldeia, besides promoting the development of learning among groups, also aims to encourage the growth of collective movements within the communities. Of course it takes effort to strengthen the forums in terms of having a clear direction and ability to function effectively. Strong community forums will be able to encourage a more dynamic development process at the aldeia and suco level. A Forum Becomes the Driving Force for Development of the Suco Government The strength of the community forum in Aldeia Buqui, Pune, and Sifin has encouraged and demanded Mr. Cipriano Caunan — the newly elected Chefe de Suco Usi Tacae — to have a clear and measurable development plan for Suco Usi Tacae during his tenure. Initiated and organized by local leaders from each aldeia, the strategic planning of Suco Usi Tacae for the years 2010 - 2014 could be done in a participatory manner. The activities were carried out in October 2009 for four days and involved 157 representatives from various social and political groupings in the Suco Usi Tacae. This process has also inspired other villages to carry out the same process.

h. Gradually reduce material support and assistance. Not all the materials and assistance needed by the communities should be provided by outside parties, including NGOs. When people have already a clear dream of the future, understand what they need, where those needs can be found, then it is a good time for outsiders, including NGOs, to start gradually reducing their support. Continuing to provide ongoing support to the communities will only lead to people’s dependency. i. Developing financial resources in the communities through the establishment of Saving and Credit Groups. This is based on the assumption that regardless of how poor a community is, they certainly have some income. If a portion of that income is saved through the Saving and Credit Groups , then slowly the financial resources in the community will increase. If financial resources have become large enough, then the people themselves can meet their financial needs to fulfill various needs without much dependency on external support.


j. Embrace formal leaders and involve them in program activities. At the beginning of the program, although the NGOs had communicated the intent and direction of the program and did initiate discussions with the formal leaders (e.g. chefe de suco, chefe aldeia, etc.), many of those formal leaders did not show any response to the program, and quite a number were even prejudiced against the program. This is understandable given that as the territorial leaders they might have had some bad experiences with the activities of NGOs in the past. Also, sometimes there are formal leaders whose orientation is toward the acquisition of personal benefits, so that when the expected benefits could not be fulfilled by the NGOs, then the formal leader in question no longer showed any positive response to the program. The challenge for NGOs is how to demonstrate real success of the program in a short time, even only on a small scale, in order to prove the benefits to be gained by the community to the formal community leaders. As evidence of the success of the program exists and the formal leaders in the community could see the direction of the program’s development, then their response, engagement, and support will automatically increase. Examples of Involvement and Roles of Formal Leaders When Mr. Bento Bobo — the new elected Chefe de Suco Bobometo, Sub-district Oesilo — already saw the results of the program in Aldeia Oenoah, Saben, and Huabanais, he became very actively involved in the program activities facilitated by the NGOs, including the engaging directly with the community and create new innovations in the community. He even asked BIFANO, AHCAE, and Y-ACTS to work in six other aldeia that had not been facilitated by NGOs. While Mr. Cipriano Caunan — the new elected Chefe de Suco Usi Tacae — considering the long-term benefits to be gained from the development of family forests within the communities, he allocated some of the village development funds to develop a nursery for mahogany, gmelina, and various species of timber in every bairo with the aim that all families in the region should have family forests. While Mr. Gabriel Neca —Chefe de Suco Abani — seeing the usefulness of soil and water conservation efforts been done by members of his community, has led the conservation efforts of barren lands, areas prone to landslides, and water resources in his territory.


Assessing Indicators of Sustainability during Program Implementation While the program is running, of course we could not say that the program which is being facilitated by the World Neighbors and its four NGO partners would continue even though the program has been completed and no further support is being provided to the communities. This is because, in principle, sustainability can only be assessed at least one year after the program’s completion. Also, it can not be guaranteed that all aspects and activities of the program which have been facilitated so far this would continue a 100% in all areas, considering that there are some aldeias which started to get services and assistance just in 2009 and even in 2010. However, in aldeias where the program has been working for at least three years, there is hope that most of the aspects that have been facilitated by the program will continue after the program is completed and the support previously given to the community is no longer provided. Some indications which could be seen at the end of the program are a basic capital for sustainability. Those Indications include: Institutional Aspects: 1. From the 145 farmer groups in the program areas, until December 2010, there have been 86 farmer groups who have already sufficient skills in monthly planning, monitoring, and evaluation on their own without having to be facilitated by outsiders. 2. Of the 23 aldeia within the program location, 20 have formed aldeia level community forums complete with meeting halls and community learning centers. Of those 20 community forums, 16 forums — include Aldeia Bebu, Queno, Mahata, Poasbot, Fatunababo, Haemnanu, Naituna, Malelat, Saben, Buqui, Pune, Sifin, Quanobe, Maunaben, Lacufuan, and Fatubijae — are quite strong and are functioning effectively. The forum’s structure and the division of roles between the board members are quite clear and are running well. In addition to the occurrence of learning processes between groups and within the forum itself, the forum’s board members — both men and women — have served as volunteers to facilitate activities of other farmers groups in its areas. All of it has been done voluntarily being driven by a strong desire to progress and develop together, without incentives from the program. 3. Out of the 13 suco within the program’s location, five suco have already a five year strategic plans. The Chefe de Suco and local leaders in the five villages have already learned how to oversee the strategic planning. The suco development 79

processes are being relatively more dynamic and offer hope for the progress of the suco. Moreover, there are currently strong indications that decentralization in Timor Leste will soon be implemented through the provision of development funding support from the national government directly to the suco government. The existence of a clear and measurable plan at suco level would make such financial support more effective in the progress of suco. 4. The establishment of local natural resource management rules (tarabandu) in writing at the aldeia level which have been prepared by the communities themselves, especially those rules dealing with natural resource management, including the prohibition of slash and burn practices, of logging around water sources, and of free grazing. So far these rules are enforced with strict penalties for any violations without favoritism. Process Aspects: 1. Learning is happening among farmers, among groups, and among regions. People who became program participants have became accustomed to learn from the strengths and advantages of the farmers or groups or from other areas and will adopt in their own area. Some of the things they learned 2. Various methodologies that have been learnt and applied in working with the communities, have been used by communities themselves to develop participatory and innovative learning processes. Participatory ways are also begun to be used in managing conflicts and in decision-making, both at the group level as well as at aldeia level community forums. 3. Collective actions to address common needs of the community have been instantiated. For example, the construction of the meeting halls and learning centers, road repair, well and water supply system construction, as well as the action to clean, protect, and conserve community water resources. Technical Aspects: 1. Communities which have been actively involved in program activities have learned much and adopted a variety of appropriate technologies in agriculture, animal husbandry, and health, and the communities are enjoying the results and benefits. With the evidence of these felt benefits, it is most likely that the appropriate technologies already applied will continue to be adopted and replicated by the communities, its application could even be extended into areas which so far have not being assisted by the program. 2. The communities have realized that depending just on food crops for their livelihoods made them quite vulnerable. Therefore, learning from the 80

successes in some areas of East Nusa Tenggara, the communities participating in the program have diversified the crops in their farms. The communities have already the experience of establishing and maintaining nurseries of fruit and timber trees. Many people have developed their own nurseries. 3. The planting of timber trees within the family forests have become widespread after the communities saw for themselves the economic and ecological benefits of timber trees in the family forests developed in the District of Ngada and Nagekeo in the Province of East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. The interest of the communities to develop timber trees (especially mahogany, gmelina, and teak) is currently very high. Referring to this trend, it is predicted that the development of family forests in the program area will expand. Forum Hit’An Rasik in Aldeia Buqui, was Petitioned to Assist Farmers Groups in Aldeia Maunaben Maunaben is one aldeia of Suco Cunha, Sub-district Pante Makassar which is geographically closer to Aldeia Buqui and Pune, Suco Usi Tacae, Sub-district Oesilo or by Aldeia Quanobe, Suco Ban’afi, Sub-district Nitibe. Because of its proximity, we often went to see the farms owned by group members in Aldeia Buqui and some farmers also often went to see the activities in Aldeia Pune and Bairo Noetoco, Aldeia Quanobe. We became very interested in their farms because there were very many types of plants in it, and their ways of managing livestock were also very good. When there were discussions, we often came. There are those who joined the discussions in Pune, Buqui, and there were some who participated in Noetoco. We were about 28 families and agreed to request BIFANO to assist us, but because BIFANO was not developing its program there, we asked the Forum Hit’An Rasik, Aldeia Buqui, to work with us. Now, already there are 18 fields which are managed as sedentary farms in accordance with the techniques being taught to us by the Forum Buqui. Anthoni, Josef, and Andre, group members from Aldeia Maunaben Network Aspects: 1. The establishment of good cooperation between the community groups with the Agricultural Field Extensionists from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries who were placed in every suco. In the area of health, many meeting halls at the aldeia level which were built by the communities themselves have been used for the service activities of the Serviso Saúde Integrado Comunitaria 81

(SISCa), where the formal leaders of the suco and aldeias, local leaders, health cadres and health workers can interact, communicate and cooperate. 2. The existence of the forums are known, monitored, and acknowledged by various parties at the district level, including some important people in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in the National level. There is even an indication of openness to build cooperation between the community forums at the aldeia level with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in order to access the programs that are being developed. 3. The Community Forum of Hit’An Rasik in Aldeia Buqui has built a direct cooperation with an international agency in order to build more intensive and market-oriented farming systems. Financial Aspects: 1. Already 22 Savings and Credit Groups with clear accounting systems have been formed. Its officers are already adept at doing the bookkeeping of the Saving and Credit Groups and to calculate the division of the dividends at the end of each fiscal year. There are already more than 1,000 people engaged as members of these Saving and Credit Groups. By December 2010, the lowest amount of capital was in the Aldeia Maunaben were the groups that were formed in October 2010 could accumulate more than US $ 3,000. While the highest amount of capital is owned by the Saving and Credit Groups in Aldeia Quanobe where capital is curently already more than $ 20,000. Along with the increasing ability of the group’s officers to manage the books, the capital accumulation of each group will continue to grow. The availability of capital in these Saving and Credit Groups will certainly facilitate its members’ access to very low interest loans (2 to 5% per month). The ease of access to loans Cosmas Ena with other group members of Tabe in Aldeia Haemnanu who have established in-row tillage.


has been a successful answer to address the urgent needs of members in education, health, and home improvement. 2. Related to the point above, the availability of capital of the Saving and Credit Groups has also triggered the development of micro-entrepreneur efforts in the communities such as making cakes from various local materials, making tofu and tempe for sale, and livestock raising. The members of the Saving and Credit Groups who wanted to raise cattle no longer have to take care of the cattle of others through a sharing system or wait for assistance from the government; many people have bought their own livestock using funds borrowed from the Saving and Credit Groups. 3. Along with the development of people’s knowledge and community needs, the availability of capital in the Saving and Credit Groups and revenues earned from the small businesses will be the main source of financial capital in the communities to address the growing needs of the communities; for example the construction of sanitation facilities which is quite urgent at this time, education, health, housing, and so forth.

Various kinds of cakes made of local materials.




Replication and Expansion of the Program’s Impact

Any changes would of course be more meaningful to people’s life when done by many people and occurring on a massive scale. Therefore, to achieve such changes will require a strategy for replication and the expansion of the program’s impact. Replication is how to duplicate the results of an existing program to other sites in accordance with the local context. While the expansion of impact is a way for parties who are not directly participating in the program to also gain benefits from the program, either directly or indirectly.

Replication Strategy As mentioned in Section Three, Building Trust, World Neighbors’ approach is always to start on a small scale with a limited number of program participants. At that time, assistance is focused on those in the communities who show a meaningful response and are interested to be involved in the program. This strategy was developed to build trust and at the same time to show proof to the people who did not show any response or are still skeptical about the benefits to be gained from the program. In this phase, the program is challenged to prove that people can actually improve and build their own lives through the processes of humancentered learning. When there are successes in some areas, those successes are then used as a medium of learning for families, groups, even people from other areas to be replicated. Replication aims to encourage more people to do the same. Several replication strategies have been developed by the World Neighbors with its partner NGOs , those include: 1. To encourage families who have succeeded and are currently feeling the benefits of the program to promote their success and the benefits they have felt to their extended family, their neighbors, and their friends, either in their own aldeia or in the area of other aldeia in the region.

Sharing Success Stories In the mid-2008, AHCAE brought some farmers from Aldeia Bebu, Suco Lelaufe, whose farms showed much better results than their previous condition, to Aldeia Queno, Mahata, and Quat Enes to tell stories about changes in their farms which they had accomplished after the adoption of some agroforestry technologies which where extended by AHCAE. The process of sharing stories was then followed by a visit of representatives from those areas to Aldeia Bebu. Two forms of these visits proved to have significant influence to attract people from the three aldeias to participate in the program. Currently, the programs in these three areas are growing very rapidly, and the communities are reaping the benefits from their efforts. Quite different is the story of Mr. Cosmas Ena and Calisto Ulan from the Farmers Group of Tabe II in Bairo Nun’Atais, Aldeia Haemnanu. They both shared stories about the benefits they felt after adopting several agroforestry technologies which were promoted by CECEO to members of his family who were spread in six other Bairos in Aldeia Haemnanu during a period of two years, in 2007 to 2008. The process of sharing those stories extended even to Aldeia Malelat, Pasabe, and Naituna. This process has made the program expand fastly and gained significant results in the Sub-district of Pasabe.

2. Facilitating learning visits of community representatives from areas that have not been participating in the program to places where there are already evidence of success. These visits were intended to see first hand other forms of success that have happened to motivate them to do the same. 3. Providing intensive assistance to those who showed to be responsive in their follow up of the learning outcomes gained from learning visits and supporting them with the required materials in limited quantities. 4. Involving people who until now have not been involved in the program in the learning activities undertaken in the communities. 5. Encourage openness from the people who already feel the benefits of the program and local leaders to help develop programs in new areas. This method is actually intended to develop a farmer-to-farmer extension system. Here, farmers are expected to voluntarily share and extend their knowledge to other farmers.


Learning visit of community and BIFANO’s staff representatives to Bairo Leolbatan; in purpose to replicate water catchments at water sources. It was followed-up only in a week after the visit.

The Strategy for Expansion of Program Impact World Neighbors is fully aware that with limited resources it is impossible to reach all communities in a certain region simultaneously. World Neighbors also realizes that the intended changes can only be achieved in the communities at a wider level if all the various parties are inclusive and open to learn from each others’ strengths and advantages. World Neighbors whose mission to inspire people, and in an attempt to expand the program’s impact, certainly seeks also to transmit its programs strategies, approaches, ways of working, and its good practices, which have been carried out in the program area as part of widening its program impact. For this reason, World Neighbors and its partner NGOs are very open to learn from the strengths and advantages of other parties as well as sharing the lessons learned from the program with those who might need it. Various strategies which been developed by the World Neighbors for the dissemination of its program impact includes: 1. Involving other NGOs, governments and other relevant parties in the learning activities which are facilitated or organized by World Neighbors and its partner NGOs.


2. Promotion of farmers’ succeeds. Successes, the benefits are already being felt by farmers, and the changes that have occurred in the lives of certain families are promoted to other parties in various forms and on diverse occasions. In addition, to building the self-confidence and pride of those families who have reached success and change, this promotion is also intended to spread the program’s influence to others so that a wider audience can learn from these successes. 3. Encourage the Aldeia level Community Forum and program participants to be more open and inclusive in accepting anyone who is interested to adopt the technology or be involved in the learning activities conducted by the forum. 4. Invite formal leaders, from the suco level to the heads of departments at district level, to participate in the semi-annual meetings of farmers in each program area of the partner NGOs. The semi-annual meeting of farmers should be open to anyone interested to get involved and learn from the topics discussed at the meeting. “I will not remember what they have said to me, what they have done for me. But I will always remember how they affected me so I could improve my life like now. “ Mr. Mauricio Seco in the annual meeting of World Neighbors, December 16, 2010 in Meeting Room of the Secretary of State for Regional Autonomy of Oecusse 5. Holding annual meetings. The annual meetings at the level of World Neighbors are not only attended by NGO partners, but also by invited representatives from government NGOs at the district level and all existing NGOs in Oecusse, formal leaders from each suco, as well as representatives from the communities — both men and women from all aldeia where World Neighbors and its partner NGOs are working. Asides reviewing the progress of the program and develop ideas together as material for the planning of next year’s program, the most important session at the annual meeting in connection with the dissemination of impact are the presentations from community representatives about the successes they have achieved and the benefits they already feel. 6. Distribute the learning materials produced by World Neighbors to the relevant parties, both the NGOs and government agencies. Learning media in the form of posters, booklets, flip-charts, films, training modules, reports, and so forth. 7. Document the lessons learned and the good practices and distribute them to various relevant parties. Those lessons learned and best practices, are also 88

Aneceto Piot is presenting Farmers Group of Sinar Tani during aldeia level quarterly evaluation and planning in Aldeia Lacufuan.

exchanged and discussed with others on various occasions, both at district and at the national levels. 8. Invite and facilitate government leadership at the district level (the District Administrator) and the heads of the relevant technical agencies at the district level (Agriculture, Health, Social, Infrastructure, Economy, Police, etc.) to conduct periodic visits to the program area. In addition to develop their understanding about World Neighbors’ program context, its NGO partners, and communities are doing, these visits are also intended for local governments to see for themselves the development programs and changes that have taken place in the communities. Progresses, changes and ways of working to achieve these developments in turn are often promoted to other development agencies at the district level to be studied in depth, to be adopted and used in the implementation of their programs. 9. Open up to international NGOs, local NGOs, government agencies, and anyone who wants to visit and learn from the successes and changes that have occurred in the program area. During the four years of program implementation, there have been quite a lot of learning visits from international NGOs, local NGOs, and government agencies, both originating from the District of Oecusse or from Dili, as well as from other districts in Timor Leste. The lessons they learned, related to technical aspects, methodologies, strategies and program approaches, have been adopted and used in the implementation of programs in areas where they work. 89

In the Past Learning from Others, Presently A Source for Learning for Others

Unlike four years ago when staff of World Neighbors and its partner NGOs together with farmers did a lot of learning visits to other places, presently the program in Oecusse has become a learning site for many others. Starting in 2008 until 2010 there have been quite a number of agencies who came for learning visits to the program areas of World Neighbors’ and its NGO partners in Oecusse; among others ChildFund, CARE International, World Vision, HIVOS, the NGO Forum of Timor Leste along with representatives from several districts. The learning acquired deals mainly with the development of agroforestry, livestock raising systems, post harvest management, and Saving and Credit Schemes. In addition, HIVOS and its three partner organizations came specifically to learn about program strategies and approaches, and as it turns out, many of the things they learned have gradually been implemented in their program areas. In the second learning visit of World Vision in June 2010, 25 World Vision staff and community representatives from their program areas; in addition to learning about agroforestry, program development strategies and approaches, they also intensively learned the administrative and accounting procedures of the Savings and Credit Groups. Based on the knowledge they gained and supported by training modules World Neighbors sent to them, World Vision has formed Savings and Credit Groups among their staff members, conducted training on Savings and Credit schemes for both the Bobonaro and Aileu regions. In fact, today there are already some and Savings and Credit Groups with a fairly good progress in both regions.



Lessons Learned and the Work Ahead

Lessons Learned Referring to what has been described in previous sections, in the following section we will draw lessons from the strategies and approaches that are quite interesting in strengthening the capacity of NGOs and communities to increase food security and environmental sustainability. The lessons that will be presented in this section are the wisdom and essence of the various strategies and approaches that are expected to be a reference to the parties in the development of similar programs in the days to come. 1. Villagers are lazy? This view is not true! Actually, there are no lazy people on the face of the earth because all people need foods and other necessities; but there are people who do not know what to do as they can not imagine a picture of a better quality of life and how to achieve it. Therefore, outsiders, including NGOs and government agencies, who want to make changes in the communities, need to facilitate people to make learning visits to other areas that have been successful appropriate to the topics the communities want to learn. Learning visits will be able to provide new insight and thoughts for the community to build new dreams and do many things to build a better life 2. Villagers lack awareness? The judgment of outsiders of rural communities is often just an excuse to escape, because actually it is the outsiders who are not able to find the right way to build critical awareness in the communities. Critical awareness will not be achieved only through a short visits and propaganda. Critical consciousness can only be built through intensive and repeated interaction until a psychological closeness between outsiders and the community grows. As long as the security conditions allow it, night is the best time for discussions with the communities — both at the family and group level — because at that time the community members are free from the hustle

and bustle of their daily routines so that their mind and heart can be focused on the topics being discussed. 3. Develop insight and motivate people. Learning visits to areas that are already successful are the most effective way to learn, broaden and motivate NGOs staff and community members at the beginning of the program. Although this method requires considerable costs, the results are far more effective when compared with many times of in-class training. The person who facilitates the learning visits — either from an NGOs or a government agency — need to prepare themselves to provide the support required by the communities after the visit learning so that the results of the study visit could be followed up and implemented effectively. Monitoring and reflection on the achievement of the follow-up on study visit should be at least three months after the study visit. 4. The effectiveness of technical training. Training for NGO staff or community members will only be effective and get adequate follow-up if participants are already motivated about the learning topics which they really need. Motivation to learn will grow and the needed topics will usually only be identified after people seen something better. This can be achieved among others through learning visits, both within the community and to outside the region. 5. Changes in the way staff work in the field. Providing input and verbal suggestions about how to effectively work with people is not always followed and acted upon by the staff of partner NGOs in the field. Setting an example by doing it yourself in the field in front of people turns out to be more effective in changing the attitudes and behavior of partner NGOs staff. Training on the administration and bookkeeping of Savings and Credit Groups held by WN involving outside partners, one way of strengthening the staff of partner institutions.


6. Fostering positive militancy14 . A positive militant attitude to achieve changes in the communities can only be developed if social change is the target of the work, both at the individual level as well as at the staff and institutional levels. At the level of staff working in the field (in this case the field staff ), aside of team building efforts, appreciation of the changes and accomplishments achieved by field staff — no matter how small those changes and achievements might be — is needed to continue to foster the enthusiasm of the staff, while continuing to provide input on strategies and ways to develop innovative strategies and approaches to achieve the expected changes. At the level of the field staff, identifying changes that occur in the working area of a field-staff as their achievements has been effective in kindling the spirit and creativity of the field staff to work effectively in their working areas. Criticizing the staff and seeing the negative side of their work will only spread negative energy that will kill the field staff’s enthusiasm and creativity. 7. Outsiders, including NGOs are learning companions for the community. Outsiders, including NGOs who come to the communities are not a learning source for the community members because basically outsiders do not know all about what a community needs. The people who for decades have lived in the region, know better about the conditions of their region and what they need. Thus, outsiders who come into the community are not to be learning sources but only learning companions for the community members to help them identify their needs, discover their potential, and do something to achieve a better life. 8. The use of media as a learning tool. When some community members are illiterate, the use of media which uses a lot of text (such as booklets and flipcharts) turns out to be ineffective. Instead, visual media which depict more images than text (such as posters or films) are more easily understood by the community and more effective to trigger discussions in the communities. 9. Media development. Media developed by the program will be effective if done in a participatory manner involving the communities. The development process should be preceded by a needs assessment process, script development and pre-testing. The media production process can only be done if it revisions of the draft are done based on input obtained during the pre-tests. Media produced should also be accompanied with a user’s manual that can be used effectively by anyone in the field. In addition, the review of the effectiveness of the media after being used for a certain period of time will be needed, both to improve the format of the media as well as is the way how the media is used. 14 Again, the term militant and militancy here are used with a positive meaning of perseverance, enthusiasm and determination.


10. Increased food availability and nutritional status. Increased availability of foods through increased agricultural production, increased economic affordability of foods, and better processing and management of foods turns out not to be effective enough to improve the nutritional status of the communities, especially of children under-five. We still need to find other more effective strategies in order for the increased food supply to provide a direct impact on the improvement of the communities nutritional status. 11. Finding key people. In the early stages of the implementation of the program, finding key people in the communities is a critical point to initiate a change. As it turns out, key people do not always come from among formal leaders or the communities’ elites. Most often key people come from the ordinary people. The characteristics of key people to initiate change are; they are responsive to new ideas, have a high interest in learning, want to follow up on the learning outcomes that they have obtained in the fields or in their own family, and want to spread the benefits and changes that they have felt to other families around them or even to other areas so that they are also moved to do the same thing. 12. Effectiveness of the Field Staff. Only by way of live-in the work area, field staff can have adequate time to develop the psychological closeness with the community, conduct discussions to build critical awareness, make house-tohouse or from farm-to-farm visits, and work effectively with the community. 13. A collective farm as a learning farm. The establishment of a collective farm as the learning media for group members is no not always the most effective method. It turned out that the various technologies that have been applied in the group farm are not necessarily adopted and applied in the individual farms of the group members. When the group farms gave good results, this often became the cause of conflict between the farm owner and other group members. Establishment of a collective farm as a learning site for the group turns out to give raise to more problems than benefits. 14. Campaign methods. It is needed to be careful in the selection of ways or methods to motivate and stimulate a change in the society. Campaign methods related to technical issues that bring together a great number of people turned out not to be effective in motivating people to do something to improve their farm productivity and the environment. 15. Building dreams of a better future. Helping the communities — at households or group level — to imagine and formulate their ideals of success and a better future turned out to be quite effective to motivate the communities. The “dream farm” and “dream aldeia” method, turned out to be effective enough to make people move, individually and collectively, to develop the plan, act, and periodically evaluate what they have done. The communities were also active 94

in raising the resources they needed and only needed support of the outside parties for what they could not provide themselves. 16. Keeping the community moving forward. Basically, community empowerment is to build back the confidence of the communities and their conviction that they themselves could actually do something to improve their own lives. Fostering community pride by giving praise and opportunities to come forward in front of people and present what they have already done, the results they achieved and the benefits they gained, turned out to be quite effective in making people to continue to move forward, either expanding what they have been working on or create new things. 17. Growing a feeling of being challenged. Playfully mocking or making fun of each other, both among staff of the partners NGOs, between the NGOs and the community, or among community members, turned out to be quite effective in encouraging a healthy competition, generate dynamics, and foster a feeling of being challenged to become better. However, mutual mocking can only be effective if there is a psychological closeness between the parties, when they feel like being members of one family, there are no communication barriers, and there is evidence of success in certain locations that are known by the staff and the community members. This evidence of success can become a comparison and at the same time a reference to move more dynamically and achieve better results. 18. Growing sense of being noticed and paid attention to. Villagers who live isolated in the rural-uplands need the attention from important people in the government. The partnerships between NGOs and the government agencies Working together of the Tabe II Group in Aldeia Haemnanu, a community local tradition that needs to be kept.


becomes very important in this regard. Facilitating working visits of the district level government — including the District Administrator and the heads of line agencies at district level — to the remote program areas turns out to be quite effective to build the people’s confidence and the feeling of being noticed by the government. Working visits like this are also quite effective to bridge the gap between the needs of the community and programs that are being planned by the government. 19. Community forum and learning centers at the aldeia level. When in the program area there is no adequate infrastructure for community members to gather, meet, and learn together, the provision of such facility and ensuring that it will function as a community learning site will be an required the intervention of the program, even though the building could be very simple and made from local materials. The development of community forums at the aldeia level together with the learning center, besides becoming a vehicle or an umbrella organization for the farmers groups in the aldeia, has also been proven to be quite effective in encouraging inter-group learning processes and building a collaborative actions in the community in response to the issues and needs of the community at aldeia level. Without realizing it, the discussions at the level of the forum also made people more critical of the situation around them and gave raise to local leaders who emerged and developed naturally with a proven ability. 20. Growing the financial assets of the communities. Regardless how poor as family is, they must have some income. Encouraging them to save a part of their income in groups — one alternative is through the development of Savings and Credit Groups — can gradually strengthen the communities’ financial assets. The stronger the financial assets of a community, the lower is their level of vulnerability, and the stronger is their ability to respond to various needs, More than ten thousand coffee seedlings were developed by Farmers Group of Unijola in Bairo Leolbatan Aldeia Lacufuan for the planting season of 2009/2010.


whether sudden needs in the house-hold or the needs for investment capital and small business development. 21. Development of Saving and Credit Groups. Saving and Credit Groups can only be formed and developed if the communities already have a mental picture in their mind about the benefits of these groups, referring to the evidence of the benefits perceived by groups that have been successful with credit and savings activities. To support the development of Saving and Credit Groups in the communities, the staff — especially field staff — should have adequate knowledge and skills in bookkeeping and the administration of Saving and Credit Groups to be able to provide effective assistance to the communities. To be able to master accounting/book-keeping and administrative procedures of the Saving and Credit Groups, the staff themselves must be involved in credit and savings activities, and one way to ensure this is by forming Saving and Credit Groups in their institutions or be involved as members of the groups that in the communities. 22. Partnerships. In the context of partnerships in program development, it should be understood that the agencies giving funds and the agencies receiving funds actually need each other and should work as one team in the program’s implementation. Only with an egalitarian partnership between funding and recipient agencies can they build a strong team. The value of equality in the partnership can only be built when there are no psychological barriers and no communication constraints between the funders and the grantees. 23. Team building. The team’s strength at the institutional level can only be built if the relationships and communication between the persons within the institution are in fluid, there is a feeling of being one big family, there are no more psychological barriers and communication gaps among people in the institutions, and there is no superior-subordinate relationship. It takes a variety of ways and means to build the relationships between the people in the institutions, such as by cooking and eating together in the house of one of the staff, visiting each other, giving attention to the staff who are ill or who had an accident, etc. The same is needed in the context of partnership programs between donor agencies and the recipients of funds. 24. Program sustainability. The indications of the sustainability of the processes that have been facilitated by the program and its results can only be seen if since the beginning of its implementation the programs already had developed strategies which could guarantee the sustainability of the program. Those strategies included the strengthening of community organizations, fostering local leadership, encouraging community self-reliance and gradually reducing support at the same time, encouraging mutual learning processes between 97

groups and between regions, bridging the relationships between community groups in one are with groups or associations in other areas, building and strengthening financial resources of the communities, embracing formal leaders and involving them in various program activities, and gradually transferring responsibilities for the management of a range of activities including financial management, to local leaders and community forums. 25. Replication and expansion of the program area. The program can only be effectively expanded to other aldeia or suco if there are already models in some sites that could be a learning site and a reference in the acquisition benefits. Expansion of the program can be done by bringing some families who have been successful into new program areas in order to foster motivation, then, it should be followed up with learning visits to successful program areas. In many cases, community representatives who came to the NGO’s offices to request for assistance in their areas, referred to the success and progress they had seen in other areas where the program is being developed

The Work is Not yet Done ...! What has been achieved by World Neighbors in cooperation with its four partners NGOs in the District of Oecusse as described above has not been gained easily. However, the conviction that Nothing is Impossible – We will Succeed, has encouraged them to continue to working on a variety of strategies and innovations so that the various changes that they dream about for a better Oecusse can be realized. The approach based on the vision of the empowerment developed by World Neighbors and its partners is to work consistently to implement the values of empowerment in all activities and programs. Presently, local community initiatives in 23 aldeia spread over 13 suco in the district of Oecusse, which were initially known for its people who only waited passively for aid, have grown and evolved to be more proactive. Through various efforts and processes that have been developed with the communities in the program areas, the productivity of the lands have increased, most basic needs of farm families participating in the program have been met, the financial and social capital of the communities has evolved, and the environmental carrying capacity is much better. It is these community initiatives which will be a strong capital for future developments of the district, especially for the suco governments to prepare themselves to seize the opportunities for development from the decentralized system of government. Four and a half years is not enough time to be able to answer the various challenges and evolving needs in the society. In addition, there are still many communities that 98

could not be reached by this food security program. Therefore, many development initiatives are still highly needed for the improvement of community welfare in the District Oecusse. World Neighbors and its four partner NGOs (AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO, and FFSO) will not be in Oecusse forever working on the same program. However, the developments and changes that have occurred in the communities are actually sufficient capital for Oecusse to move forward in a more dynamic way and improve the welfare of its communities more widely while increasing its environmental carrying capacity. By using the existing social capital, some things will still need to get the attention from various parties. These can be classified into several aspects as follows: 1. Natural Resource Management Aspects • Various soil and water conservation technologies have been adopted and applied widely by the communities in the program areas. In addition to being shown to reduce the rate of erosion and increase soil fertility, those technologies have also increased environmental carrying capacity, including reducing the surface run-off rates and increase the infiltration of water into the soil, so that it could increase the rate and duration of water flowing from the springs. If only these conservation activities could be increased into a movement on the scale of the watersheds, the carrying capacity of the environment will become even better. Therefore there is still a need to encourage the development of a watershed management plan at district level through a multi-stakeholder approach. The watershed management plan at district level will also synergy with the directives of the District Disaster Prevention Committee and the District Disaster Management Committee, and will also be an effective response to

Permanent farms with various soil and water conservation techniques are increasingly more widely adopted by community members.


the discourse on climate change of the recent years. In addition, coordination efforts between these two committees are required so that disaster prevention and disaster management become more integrated. • The tree planting movement, on barren communal lands prone to landslides, around water sources, and in forest areas, through family forests has become a massive movement. Various parties including the government should support this movement for various purposes for the future, both for purposes associated with increasing forested areas and to fulfill the need for timber in the future. Communities also have to realize that the planting trees on private lands in the form of family forests will be a saving for the future of their children. However, the need for tree seeds, seedlings and polybags are often a constraint in supporting the community initiatives. Therefore, support from various parties is needed to ensure that community initiatives which have been developed continue and expand. 2. Financial and Rural Livelihood Aspects • Current in the program area, least five of the 22 existing Saving and Credit Groups are already quite strong due to the significant accumulation of capital more than US $24,000 each. While 17 other Savings and Credit Groups still continue to grow with a minimum capital of US $ 3,000. The existence of Savings and Credit Groups has at least built the mental attitude of regularly saving part of their income while helping communities to address the financial needs, both to meet unforeseen needs and as capital for the development of micro-enterprises. The development of this Savings and Credit Groups should continue to be supported according to the basic principles of Savings and Credit Groups. The interventions needed from outside parties are in capital support without binding conditions, either in the form of grants or interest-free loans with a certain payback period. The availability of sufficient capital in the Savings and Credit Groups will intensify the communities’ economic efforts at the micro level so that it can increase people’s income while reducing their economic vulnerability. • Interventions to the Savings and Credit Groups need to be done with adequate precautions as it concerns the management of funds collected by the members themselves. Using the Savings and Credit Groups for loan disbursement from a particular institution on the condition that they serve everybody in the community, including those who are not members of the group, should be carefully considered; the systems and mechanisms need carefully thought out so as not to weaken the social force of the existing Savings and Credit Groups. • Various parties need to help and encourage the existing Savings and Credit


Groups to be developed and incorporated as a cooperative. With this, these groups could expand their businesses from just savings and loans into other business ventures according to their legal status as a cooperative. • The increased agricultural production, both in terms variety and quantity, and the increased skills of the community in the processing of local foods have gave raise to a number of small businesses at the community level. These small businesses have contributed to people’s income, both at the family level or for the groups. The role of various parties in the future is to support the equipment needed for the food processing industry and improve people’s skills in processing, packaging, and marketing. 3. Social Aspects • At the beginning of the program, especially during the time prior to the elections of 2007, friction between community groups was clearly felt. This friction was the results of a society fragmented along partisan and political party lines. At the time outsiders arrive in the community they were often suspected of carrying the messages and the interests of certain political parties. The discussions about politics were also still frequent after the elections. The people were more interested in discussing political issues rather than their children’s poor nutritional status. Therefore, political education and the rights of citizens become very important to be dealt with as to minimize the potential of horizontal conflicts in the communities. • One indicator of community empowerment is the dynamics of the communities which give raise to discussions which in turn build and grow local initiatives to World Vision’s team during a learning visit in Aldeia Haemnanu.


Community representatives from Bairo Noahaque Aldeia Haemnanu who succeded in becoming the winner of the first prize in the Food Fair during The World Food Day in the District Oecusse in 2010.

address the common needs of the community, both at the family and society in general. The communities’ self-reliance has grown, especially in the provision and mobilization of local resources that they have or they can try to obtain themselves. If those social dynamics that have been grown and the initiatives that have been developed are destroyed, this will return the people to the point of dependence on outside parties, including governments, NGOs, and donors. Therefore, it is very important for all parties to continue to maintain those developing dynamics and minimize charity projects such as food for work, cash for work to improve public facilities with a pay of two or three dollars per family per day, and other such projects. • Along with the development of the social capital of the communities, they gradually need to be encouraged to seek their own information to answer their needs for the availability of government services and the services other parties. The communities, through the groups that already exist — such as farmer groups or community forums at the aldeia level — also need to be facilitated to develop relations and cooperation with other parties. 4. Infrastructure Aspects • In some areas, the production of some crops has increased. In the area of Aldeia Lacufuan, Suco Costa, pineapple production is abundant, while the coffee grown in 2007 have also begun to bear fruit. Coffee also has begun to bear fruit in all areas of the sub-district Pasabe and Suco Lelaufe, Sub-District Nitibe. One of the challenges to be faced by the communities in the future is how to market these products. Therefore, road infrastructure support and transportation access to the areas which are becoming agricultural production centers will be necessary 102

for those products to reach the market. In addition, the government and the private sector should start thinking to encourage the growth of the processing industry of community based agricultural products, for example in the form of small enterprise groups at community level. • Cattle are a prime source of income for rural communities in the District of Oecusse. Sustained by the availability of adequate sources for forage and semiintensive care, cattle fattening has widely developed in the communities. But people still find obstacles in the marketing of the animals. The marketing of livestock - cattle in particular – is often done illegally by selling the animals to buyers in the territory of Indonesia at a very low price. If only the government could facilitate the building of a slaughterhouse and a meat packing facility in the District of Oecusse for export to other districts, then the market value which could be obtained by farmers will be significantly higher. • The isolation of the area is often also a constraint for people to access the information available in the district. Therefore, the government needs to create an information boards not only at suco governance centers, but needs to expand those also to the aldeias. 5. Institutional Aspects • The need to strengthen the capacity of district and suco governments in the planning and implementation of participatory and pro-poor development programs, and good governance. Along with the discourse of decentralization and the special status for the District of Oecusse, a government that is strong Scott Killough, Ava Joshi, and Nicol Ragnan from World Neighbors headquarters visited Aldeia Naituna in February 2011.



enough will allow the suco and district governments to initiate a variety of development innovations and breakthroughs in response to the needs of the communities without having to wait for orders and instructions from the central government. Since there are agricultural extensionists (extensionista) based in each suco, they actually should be the spearhead of the government in agriculture development in the suco areas. Besides having gained technical skills, the extensionists also need to be strengthened in facilitating skills so that they are not merely trapped in their conventional role of extending information, but can also act as a facilitator. As facilitators, the extensionista will contribute more to encourage learning among community members in their working areas or even to other regions. Suco strategic planning which has been done in five villages in the district of Oecusse has shown to improve the dynamics of development at the suco level with clear and measurable plans. In line with the discourse on decentralization where the suco will be the basis for development, the district government of Oecusse needs to prepare the sucos within the District to have a strategic plan with a time frame of five years broken down into annual working plans. The suco level strategic plans and the derived the annual work plans will be the main reference for the Chefe de Suco and the communities in the development of their suco. The suco level strategic plan also serves to prepare the suco to seek and direct the support from outside the suco, including from the government. Until now there are already 20 aldeia level community forums established. These forums are an umbrella organization of farmers groups at the aldeia level. In their development, these forums not only serve as a vehicle, but have a much broader role than that. The Forums have been equipped with meeting halls and learning sites which has been functioning as community learning centers at the aldeia level. The community forums have also functioned in building collective actions in the communities to address people’s common needs. Even the strategic planning initiatives that have been done in five sucos, initially came from and were encouraged by the leaders of the forums. In addition, people who had experience in certain fields have voluntarily aided and assisted other groups or families in their area to develop various activities. Therefore, community forums at the aldeia level still need to be strengthened so that their function as a driving force for development at suco level will be stronger. Actually, the people themselves within their customary structures already have local regulations on natural resource management (tarabandu). In some areas, these rules have been re-identified and documented in writing. After being discussed and documented, these rules are observed by the people and the changes that occurred in the communities regarding natural resource

management practices can be clearly seen, including the management of livestock. In the future, various parties need to facilitate the communities to explore the wisdom and values of those existing local customary rules and document them so that they could be a common reference in natural resource management for the communities. World Neighbors along with AHCAE, CECEO, BIFANO, and FFSO, with the support of various parties, including government, local community leaders, as well as other parties, with all the power, potential, and capabilities they could muster, have tried to lay the foundations for the development which would bring a more dynamic District of Oecusse forward. This is the contribution of World Neighbors and its four partner NGOs to the advancement of development in the District Oecusse, and hopefully the community development model that upholds the vision of empowerment can be a learning model for other districts in Timor Leste. Once again, many people were pessimistic and looked at World Neighbors and its four partner NGOs with condescension. Regardless, based on the capital of confidence and innovative strategies, most of the achievement indicators of the program targets could be achieved. Nothing is impossible! Everything can happen, depending on how strong we belief in the possible outcomes, what strategies and innovations we develop, and how much effort we put into achieving those dreams.

Farmers eager to meet a better the future, during a visit of representative farmers from YMTM-TTU.



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Nothing is Impossible  

This book is written to document the strategy and the approach to increasing food security developed by World Neighbors together with AHCAE,...

Nothing is Impossible  

This book is written to document the strategy and the approach to increasing food security developed by World Neighbors together with AHCAE,...