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VOICE OF ERMERA’S COMMUNITY...!!! 19 May 2012

We all knew that, whenever somebody mentions word Ermera, then our mind will directly related it with, “a fertile land where coffee are growing rapidly.” Coffee became a symbol of this district, although many districts in Timor Leste also have coffee plantation such as Aileu, Manufahi, Liquisa and Ainaro but not as famous as Ermera. Talk about this area won’t be complete without talk about its commodity as well as the cool weather and its rain forest which trees are too dense to be penetrated by sun light even in a day light.

 

The populations in Ermera have been also increased. In 2004 total population were counted as 107,557 persons and within the next 6 years it increased around 6%, and had reached 114,635 persons in 2010 (Census of Population 2010). The number consider as second highest in Timor Leste after Dili district. The growth of population need to be accompany with socio-economic development which reflected on the objective of national development, however reflected as well on the district plan of development. Such integrate development will strengthen public infrastructure condition and stimulate as well as facilitate economic mobility within referred district.

 

Luta Hamutuk had conducted 4 days activity of community briefing in this district, which consider as center of coffee production, and successfully identified what the community actually wanted and its expectation. Luta Hamutuk had revealed also certain preoccupations faced by community who live within remote area which have been conveyed with genuine heart and simple of words.

 

Trough community briefing, which organized in 24 -27 April 2012 within 4 villages in Ermera district, Luta Hamutuk had distributed information in respect of petroleum fund, transparency within extractive industry, accountability within state budget and people’s participation within national development.

 

Also in this event, we accommodate opinions and feedback of communities coming from villages like Humboe, Lequimea, Mirtuto and Riheu in respect of participation within development, the distribution of oil and gas income, as well as challenge and obstacle within rural development process during this time. 

 

Community Briefing Team in Ermera district consisted by: Julio Gomes, Jonathan Gonsalves, Elio Pereira Guimaraes and  Joaozito Viana.

 

A. THE OBJECTIVE OF COMMUNITY BRIEFING

  • Share basic information toward rural communities in respect of oil and gas resource in Timor Leste, and transparency within the process of State Budget.
  • Building the capacity of rural community to be able to participate within national development, also to accommodate their opinion and ideas as well in respect of rural development.
  • Identify focal point candidates from Ermera district; therefore they could be able to monitor development process within their own area.

 

B. DISCUSSION PROCESS

Brief introduction within Community briefing conveyed by Chief of villages, followed by Luta Hamutuk’s representative to explain the objectives of the activity. Then continued the explanation of basic information on petroleum fund, transparency within extractive industry (EITI) and State General Budget.

 

Following that, the resource person facilitated the participants to shares their experiences in involvement of the any development process in rural and national level, from planning process, implementation and monitoring.

 

This opportunity, Luta Hamutuk provided space to the participants so that they would be able to shares ideas and experiences which could be contributed to development process in their area. At the same they also share their experiences in facing problem as well means to be used by the community to resolve any problems related to infrastructure development process.

 

Methodology which used by Luta Hamutuk during discussion process was participatory approach along with problem-tree example. This method was used to build the capacity of communities on how to formulate and identify problems, as well as define priorities and means to resolve such problems. 

 

1. Humboe Village.

Community Briefing in Humboe village had organized in 24th April 2012 and being attended by 41 participants which composed from 4 women and 37 men. Considering such composition, women participation in this village was too low, although approach had conducted through local authority, to invite as well women therefore meet with target, where in this particular case was set as 30% in minimum.

 

There were around 431 households in this village, where total population counted as 2,451 person and majority have been lived from coffee plantation.

 

Participants showed their enthusiasm during discussion process since they have been able to welcome Luta Hamutuk in their particular area. In this opportunity Luta Hamutuk also can get information directly from community members. The community members are really happy with the Luta Hamutuk’s visit, because so far their leaders from central government never visit them. Community also saying that Ermera’s representatives at the National Parliament never come to their village. That is why, community consider Luta Hamutuk as a good spokesperson for them.

 

Humboe community have been concerned with the system of local development program (PDL) during this time, since there were different proposals in respect of priorities of village development have been submitted already, however projects of development didn’t realize to this date. Parallel mechanism which applied within PDL had made it difficult for communities to get approval upon such projects and raised conflict as well between community leaders with its member.

 

Community in these villages had also concerned with the condition of infrastructure which became obstacle to generate economic activity. For example, damage roads which impeded public transport access, there haven’t been electricity and water access, and lack of school facilities as well as the immediate need for health post (SISCA) which have been postponed for about a year.

 

2. Liguimea Village.

Community briefing in Leguimea village had organized in 25th April 2012.  Total participants who attended this event were 44 persons and composed from 3 women and 41 men. Leguimea village has 431 households, with total number of population around 4,213 persons.

 

Preoccupation which conveyed by the community in this village was like, “why we still poor while the state income have been increasing every year?” This consider as  difficult question to be answer, however this was the truth of statement to reflect on reality of life faced by community on daily basis.

 

Below were demands of Liguimea community:

  • Government through Ministry of Infrastructure should to take care of electricity facilities which have been abandoned almost a year. It is better if these facility like pillars are immediately installed therefore people can access electricity.
  • Government should to pay attention and reconstruct roads which have been damage at this time and impeded public transport access.
  • Government should to improve system within Decentralized of Development Project (PDD I & II) therefore village as well as sub-village could be able to access and implement their own projects. Based on community’s observation PDD I and II have been exceptionally beneficial to the contractor, however the quality of its result sometimes disappointed.

 

3. Mirtuto Village.

Community briefing in Mirtutu village had organized in 26th April 2012. Total participants who attended this event were 33 persons and composed from 9 women and 24 men. This village has 502 households and around 2,697 of population.

 

Mirtutu was a place for Commandant Nino Konis Santana to hide from Indonesian military army and lead guerrilla warfare. This was also a place where he died as a revolutionary. Mirtutu is a famous war site during that time, and to date still being visited by veterans as this has a deep story of independence warfare. Unfortunately, in addition to its historical aspect, Mirtutu still isolated and its infrastructure condition was below such standard of historical site.

 

Mirtutu community had questioned on scholarship objected to poor children, which based on their perspective, such scholar offered by the government have been only beneficial to children of government functionaries and its families who lived in Dili. They stated that “we heard that scholarship was objected toward poor children and veteran’s children, however we’ve never benefit from such offered.”


4. Riheu Village.

Community briefing in Riheu village had organized in 27th April 2012.  Total participants who attended in this event were 57 persons and composed from 20 women and 37 men. Women participation in this village was huge if compared with other villages. The distance from Riheu village to Gleno, capital of Ermera, was also the nearest if compare with other villages during 4 days of community briefing. This village has 1,344 households with total population of around 2,697 persons.

 

Below were demands which have elaborated by Luta Hamutuk during discussion:

  • Asked the government to reconstruct the branch of primary schools in this area. Such schools have been established by the contribution of community; however the condition recently needed for additional of school facilities and teachers.
  • Asked Ministry of Health to establish Community Health Post (SISCA) surround their area. Such Health post which had provided by the government considered as too far from this village, and people should to walk around 8 km without any public transportation to facilitate such need.
  • Asked the government to rehabilitate roads and water drainage system.
  • Asked the government to immediately establish 5 unit of houses per sub-village based on population’s houses, as stated within MDG’ plan, since in it was difficult for the community to built their own houses as the village’s landscape consider hilly.
  • Asked MAEOT to arrange plan and establish community center within 5 sub-villages, to facilitate Chief of sub-village to perform its responsibility.
  • The community stated its disappointment in respect of inadequate incentives given toward village chief and its functionaries.
  • Youth community also asked the government to add equipment within area of informatics technology (computers) and language to build their capacity, therefore they didn’t need to go another place to access certain training.

 

 

C. RECOMMENDATION

  1. Member of National parliament and Government  should to regularly visit its people lived within isolated area, particularly Ermera district, to accommodate preoccupations and opinions of its communities, prior to arrange rural development plan.
  2. Ministry of Infrastructure  should responsible for rehabilitation of roads which connecting Dili to Ermere, since previous works didn’t show adequate results and the road condition have been started to break. Rehabilitation should also include roads connecting villages to sub-districts; therefore facilitate public transportation to carry coffee production.
  3. Ministry of Infrastructure should responsible for the establishing of electricity pillars which have been abandoned for almost a year by the company in Liguimea village, therefore facilitate people with electricity energy, particularly those who lived within isolated area as they also have rights for such facility equal with those who lived in Dili.
  4. Ministry of Education should to pay attention toward primary schools in villages like Humboe, Mirtutu and Riheu, since it still need for additional room to facilitate teaching-learning process (one room usually had to accommodate more than 40 students), other facilities like tables and chairs, sanitary facility as well as additional teachers.
  5. Ministry of Education and other relevant ministries who have been set up scholarship program toward communities, to prioritize those who lived within isolated area, for example: children of Mirtutu village who have never been benefits from such offered, to serve children of Timorese, in respect of this program, based on fair justification.
  6. Ministry of Health should to atu re-function health post SISCA in Humboe village, since there have been around 8 months this facility postponed, therefore difficult for the community to get health services.
  7. Ministry of State Administration and Territory (MAEOT), should to improve system within PDL project and its parallel mechanism which assumed to be impeded villages to obtain certain project during this time (example: Humboe and Mirtutu), where then triggered such conflict between community leader and its people.
  8. MAOET should to closely examined whenever arrange system toward PDD I - PDD II program, since central Government often create such plan which didn’t reflect with village condition. Actually PDD program should accommodate plan set within village level, therefore community will benefits from state budget, being allocated within this program.
  9. MAEOT should to establish office of Sub-village chief, therefore sub-village structure could be able to benefits from such facility to perform its responsibility in assisting community.
  10. Government through MAEOT should to pay attention toward incentives given toward Chief of village and its functionaries, since many of them conveyed such disappointment as the number considered as too low and need around 6 month before received such incentive (Chief of Village received $125/month and Chief of sub-village received $80/month). Such disappointment was based on price within market and injustice treatment which considered as imbalance if compared with work load should to conduct on daily basis.  They often work for as long as 24 hours a day to service the community and handle specific works handed by ministries.
  11. State Secretary of Youth and Sport should to establish Training Center toward youth community within village level, since during the past few years this particular group was difficult for them to built their capacity as the facilities were minimum.

 

Obrigado wain.

Dili: 10 de Maio de 2012

 

Mericio Akara

Direitor Exekutivu Institutu Luta Hamutuk  Dili, Timor Leste