Timor Leste (East Timor) -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1
Timor Leste (East Timor)
TIMOR LESTE, SITUATED IN the eastern end of the Indonesian archipaelago, became the world’s newest nation in May 2002. Despite its newfound independence, the country that is formerly known as East Timor is one of the poorest in Asia.
Poverty is most severe in the rural areas where the majority of the country’s population lives. United Nations figures show that half the population does not have access to safe drinking water and 60 per cent of the people lack adequate sanitation facilities.
Tens of thousands of people were displaced over more than two decades of conflict prior to the country’s independence. In the 1999 strife, not only were people displaced but land title records, infrastructure and property were also destroyed. The United Nations estimated that more than 70 per cent of the country’s housing stock was reduced to rubble in the unrest.
To address the housing shortage, Habitat for Humanity was first set up in 2000, and formally began operations in 2002. It started with renovation programs in Liquica and Aileu districts, more than 40 km. from the capital Dili.
In the rural areas, where 80 per cent of the population lives, houses are generally made with traditional materials such as bamboo, wood and thatch. People usually repair their houses every few years as they see fit.
HFH Timor Leste concentrates on repairing and rehabilitating homes using Save & Repair, a Habitat housing microfinance model that encourages groups of families to save for the cost of renovations together.
Savings groups are known locally as “arisan”. A housing renovation typically costs about US$300, one-third of which comes from the savings group and the rest is provided by matching funds from Habitat and its partners. Renovations are done incrementally with up to three cycles of repairs. Homepartners’ monthly repayments are about US$8. Repayments are spread over three years.
With funding from an anonymous Australian foundation and other donors, Habitat’s plan is to renovate 1,000 homes by 2007. But plans are being slowed because of a new round of political unrest.
Habitat in Timor Leste hosted Global Village teams of volunteer builders, mostly from Australia.
• In April 2006, Habitat completed a household poverty index survey of more than 680 families in Aileu, Liquica and Dili districts. Based on the survey, HFH Timor Leste installed software that enabled it to rank each household according to 12 core poverty indicators.
• Habitat and the local AGAPE Fellowship started Project 21, a Save & Repair program, in January 2005 to help 100 families in Liquica district. The project offers the smallest initial loan facility at US$21 for housing, focusing on windows and door screens to keep out mosquitoes.
• In March 2004, Habitat in Timor Leste hosted its first Global Village team from Wollongong Church in Australia.
Area: 15,007 sq. km.
Population: 1,062,777 (July 2006 est.)
Ethnic groups: Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian), Papuan and small Chinese minority
Languages: Tetum, Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia and English
Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, Muslim 4%, Protestant 3% plus Hindu, Buddhist, and Animist