Habitat for Humanity Timor-Leste
Habitat for Humanity operated in Timor-Leste between 2000 and 2007. It started with home renovation programs in Liquica district, about 35 km. west of the capital Dili, and Aileu district, more than 40 km. south of Dili. Active operations were suspended following renewed civil unrest in 2006. In December 2010, Habitat resumed working in the country, but, indirectly, supporting a local non-government organization in a project to help to build and repair homes.
Housing needs in Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste, situated forward of eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago, became the world’s newest nation in May 2002. Since its independence, the country has seen mixed progress in economic and social development.
Poverty is most severe in the rural areas where the majority of the country’s population lives. In rural areas, houses are often made with traditional materials such as bamboo, wood and thatch. Every few years, residents have to spend time making repairs in order to keep their homes habitable.
World Bank figures show that 30 percent of people lack access to safe drinking water and barely half the population has access to adequate sanitation facilities. Tens of thousands of people were displaced over more than two decades of conflict prior to the country’s independence from Indonesian occupation. In 1999, conflict not only displaced many people, but also resulted in the destruction of land title records, infrastructure and property. The United Nations estimated that more than 70 per cent of the country’s housing stock was reduced to rubble. Internal security deteriorated again during April and May 2006. Serious violence resulted in the displacement of around 150,000 people in and around the capital Dili.
How Habitat for Humanity works
Habitat for Humanity works through local non-government organization, Serbisu Hamahon Timor-Leste. It provides the organization with funding and construction expertise.
Previously, Habitat concentrated on repairing and rehabilitating homes using Save & Repair, a Habitat housing microfinance model that encouraged groups of families to save for the cost of renovations together. Savings groups were known locally as arisan. A housing renovation typically cost US$300, one-third of which came from the savings group and the rest was provided by matching funds from Habitat and its partners.
Renovations were done incrementally with up to three cycles of repairs. Home partners’ monthly repayments were about US$8 each. Repayments were spread over three years.
- December 2010: Habitat partnered with local NGO, Serbisu Hamahon Timor-Leste, to assist families in Loes, Maubara subdistrict, Liquica district, through construction and rehabilitation of homes.
- April 2006: Habitat completed a household poverty index survey of more than 680 families in Aileu, Liquica and Dili. Based on the survey, Habitat installed software that enabled it to rank each household according to 12 core poverty indicators.
- January 2005: Habitat and local AGAPE Fellowship started Project 21, a Save & Repair program, in January 2005 to help 100 families in Liquica. The project offered the smallest initial loan facility at US$21 for housing, focusing on windows and door screens to keep out mosquitoes.
- March 2004: Habitat for Humanity hosted its first Global Village volunteer team from Wollongong Church in Australia.
Population: 1,201,255 (July 2012 est.)
Land Area: 14,874 sq. km.
Ethnic Groups: Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian), Papuan, small Chinese minority
Languages: Tetum (official), Portuguese (official), Indonesian, English
Religions: Roman Catholic 98%, Muslim 1%, Protestant 1% (2005)
Literacy: 58.6% (2002)
Urbanization: 28% (2010)
Population Living on US$1.25 a Day: 37% (2005)
Access to Improved Water Sources: 69% (2010)
Access to Improved Sanitation Facilities: 47% (2010)
Sources: CIA World Factbook, World Bank