With project support from its regional office in Bangkok, UNOPS in Timor-Leste supports client efforts to reduce poverty and facilitate economic and social development by rehabilitating transportation infrastructure and developing local capacity.
In Timor-Leste as elsewhere in the developing world poor transportation infrastructure significantly impedes social and economic development, limiting access to markets and other vital amenities.
To address these problems in the rural eastern region of Timor-Leste, the European Commission, UNDP and the Government initiated the Access Improvements to Markets in the Eastern Region (AIM) Project, which ran from 2004 to 2007. The project commissioned UNOPS to construct or rehabilitate five bridges due to its expertise in managing and implementing complex development projects.
The project facilitates better access to markets, settlements, services and information, encouraging farmers to invest more in agricultural production and thereby boosting the local and national economies.
As the project executing organization, UNOPS was responsible for the delivery of all project activities including vetting, recruiting and managing personnel, procuring the necessary goods and services, and providing progress reports and financial management.
In constructing and rehabilitating the five bridges UNOPS utilized labour-intensive methods to maximize opportunities for those living near project sites to work as unskilled and semi-skilled workers, equipment operators and supervisors.
Timor-Leste’s Oecussi Ambeno region is within the Indonesian province of West Timor and thus situated apart from the rest of the country. The international border limits movement of people and goods to and from Oecussi Ambeno, drastically reducing trade opportunities and increasing poverty. Historically development initiatives in Timor-Leste have failed to address the needs of Oecussi Ambeno’s 48,000 residents.
In 2004 UNDP and the European Commission launched the four-year Oecussi Ambeno Community Activation Programme (OCAP) to build local capacity to deliver basic social services and sustainable incomes, create employment opportunities and ensure food security. They selected UNOPS to execute the programme, with full responsibility for the delivery of activities including recruitment, human resources management, procurement, reporting and financial management.
In executing the programme UNOPS oversaw implementation of activities that have gone far toward restoring sustainable livelihood opportunities to the region, including:
- Establishing a Community Development Fund to finance investments planned and implemented by community groups
- Empowering women to play a wider role in their communities
- Introducing community-owned savings and credit schemes to provide basic financial services
- Bringing improved agricultural technologies in cattle raising and upland farming to improve productivity
- Evaluating and piloting new economic activities and solutions to district-specific problems
- Discussing issues relating to cross-border trade and the special economic status of Oecussi Ambeno