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Poverty Reduction and Community Development:

"Promoting national initiatives to empower the poor."

Poverty Reduction and Community Development (PRCD) in Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste is among the 20 poorest nations in the world, with the majority of the people living in rural areas. With limited formal jobs available, most of the rural population is engaged in subsistence agriculture. Unemployment is prevalent, particularly among youths and in urban areas. Lack of livelihood opportunities is compounded by low literacy rates and acute shortages of skilled human resources. Poor social infrastructure restricts people's access to basic services.

Poverty reduction and the uplifting of the poor are two key objectives outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP) which embraces the principles of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), an agreement among nations to work to reduce human poverty.

The two main goals in this programme are:

1. To aim for poverty reduction in all sectors and
regions of the nation, and

2. To promote economic growth that is both equitable and sustainable, whilst improving the health, education and well-being of the people of Timor-Leste.

In support of NDP and MDGs, UNDP has elected to work on the following areas to combat poverty and provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for community development:

Pro-poor policy support for poverty reduction
Coordination, Monitoring, and Planning Assistance for National Development Plan Implementation (COMPASS)

(Service line: 1.2 - Pro-poor policy reform to achieve MDG targets)

The second phase of the Coordination, Monitoring and Planning Assistance for Timor-Leste National Development Plan Implementation (COMPASS II) project contributes to the government's efforts to achieve the goals of the National Development Plan (NDP) and thus the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by strengthening, in particular, the capacity of the National Directorate for Planning and External Assistance Coordination (NDPEAC) and the National Statistics Directorate (NSD).

The project provides technical assistance to strengthen the governments' capacity for effective NDP implementation, its monitoring capacity as well as the statistical capacity of NSD. T his assistance is expected to enhance the capacities of the NDPEAC and the NSD in monitoring the implementation of poverty reduction policies and programmes, therefore the MDG process, as well as to enhance transparency and promote accountability through dissemination of the results on implementation of poverty reduction policies and programmes (including expenditures) to the people.

The assistance provided by UNDP is complementary to other donor support and the government's own resources. The project activities are co-ordinated and strategically targeted within the framework set in the NDP, “Prioritizing and Sequencing”, and the Road Map.

Development Service Advisory (DAS) II

(Service line: 2.7 - Public administration reform and anti-corruption)

The Development Advisory Services phase 2 project (DAS 2) provides the Government of Timor-Leste with a quick response mechanism for short-term policy advice and technical assistance, strengthening the Government's capacity in the area of public administration and management.

The assistance provided ranges from policy advice to very specific technical assistance. The project's substantive areas of intervention are not identified in detail in order to maintain this tool as flexible as possible and to be able to respond to the Government's needs as they arise.

The assistance provided by DAS II is short-term in nature. The duration of advisory and training services provided cannot exceed three months per application. DAS II services cannot be accessed to perform line functions for service delivery at department or ministry level nor are they for routine professional training for which there is an ongoing need (e.g. teacher training, nurse training, etc.).

At the end of the programme it is expected that the Government of Timor-Leste will have received appropriate assistance to fill some pertinent capacity gaps existing in policy development and the establishment of systems for an effective and efficient public administration.

Local Development Programme (LDP)

(Service line: 1.3 - Local poverty initiatives, including micro-finance)

Through the Local Development Programme, UNDP and UNCDF are supporting the government in “piloting” a decentralized government approach. The pilot provides the framework for the government to establish assemblies at the district and sub-district level in Bobonaro and Lautem and to test-run participatory planning processes, financial management and procurement procedures as well as representational arrangements at the local level. Through simulating these processes at the local level, the government can get important insights in the capacity that is present at those levels as well as the capacity requirements at that level.

The pilot is “paving the way”, resolving practical obstacles, for the future transfer of funds from central government to local governments. Realising the first cycle of transfers has required substantive coordination between various Ministries and Parliament but the practical example in place now will make similar endeavours in the future much easier.

Simultaneously, the programme functions as a local government capacity building programme, building the capacity of local representatives (local assembly members), local technical staff and the population on how to interact and respect each others' assigned responsibilities. It creates a downward accountability mechanism (through the local assembly members who are empowered as the decision makers when it comes to determining local development priorities) that the population is slowly learning to utilize.

Decentralisation Local Government Options Project (LGO)

(Service line: 1.2 - Pro-poor policy reform to achieve MDG targets)

Since 2003 the Local Government Options project has supported an inter-ministerial working group of the Government of Timor-Leste in the design of a policy framework for a decentralized government system for the country. The project aims to provide the right mix of technical expertise to allow the Government to find the fine balance between the advantages of representation and bringing government close to the people and the economies of scale for efficient service delivery.

UNDP is working closely with UNCDF in this project as well as in the Local Development Programme. The Local Government Options project and the Local Development Programme have closely aligned objectives as the latter is “piloting” decentralised planning, procurement, financial management procedures and representative arrangements. Lessons learned from this feed into the policy formulation process under the Local Government Options project.

The design of the future local government system for Timor-Leste will have a substantial impact on the government's capacity to deliver services to its population in a transparent and accountable manner and will offer the population a mechanism to participate in the governance process of the country. The decentralized government system will play a crucial role in the country's poverty reduction approach.

Support for MDG's

(Service line: 1.1 - MDG country reporting and poverty monitoring)

National Human Development Report

(Service line: 1.1 - MDG country reporting and poverty monitoring)


Community Development
Ainaro-Manatuto Community Activation Project (AMCAP)

(Service line: 1.3 - Local poverty initiatives, including micro-finance)

Oecussi Ambeno Community Activation Programme (OCAP)

(Service line: 1.3 - Local poverty initiatives, including micro-finance)

Skills Training for Gainful Employment Programme (STAGE)

(Service line: 1.3 - Local poverty initiatives, including micro-finance)

Recovery, Employment and Stability Programme for Ex-Combatants and Communities is Timor-Leste (RESPECT)

(Service line: 1.3 - Local poverty initiatives, including micro-finance)

Programme for Access Improvements to Markets in the Eastern Region (AIM)

(Service line: 1.3 - Local poverty initiatives, including micro-finance)

For more information, please contact:

Poverty Reduction and Community
Development Unit, UNDP Timor-Leste