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Timor-Leste remains one of the poorest countries in the Southeast Asia with 37% of the population living below the international poverty line of USD $1.25/day (World Population Review 2018). Eighty per cent of Timor-Leste’s people rely upon agriculture for their livelihood. Agricultural productivity is very low and food insecurity continues to be a chronic and widespread issue. The critical months of food shortage are between November and February, and this period of time is known as the ‘hungry season’.
Surveys show that 62% of farmers experience one month or more of food shortage. Drought and extreme rainfall severely impact local infrastructure. Lack of skills in farming techniques contributes to insufficient food production. There is a lack of infrastructure, financial literacy and access to credit to support farming communities. This project addresses underperformance in the agriculture sector to provide greater economic opportunity and food security to the Timorese people.
This project has strengthened the livelihoods for poor rural communities in Timor-Leste by providing skills and tools to improve productivity, reduce vulnerability and ensure their voice is heard by decision makers.
Funding from the Footprints program contributed towards the following project outcomes:
Outcome 1: Women and men in rural communities have improved income and food security.
Outcome 2: Vulnerable rural communities have improved resilience to shock and stress.
Outcome 3: Vulnerable rural women and men are able to influence local and national decision-making processes that impact on their livelihoods and food security.
Outcome 4: Effectively manage partnerships with local NGOs following Oxfam’s partnerships principles.
Before joining an Oxfam-supported savings group, Francisco struggled to put food on the table for his family. Now, he knows how to manage money and chase his dreams, and his fortunes have turned around.
Despite spending long hours cultivating his rice paddy, Francisco (pictured) never seemed to be able to get ahead. “When I would be working in my paddy field,” he recalls, “I would have a problem with money.”
Francisco couldn’t afford his own harvesting machine so he would borrow a neighbor’s machine, and pay his way with rice.
“It was very difficult,” he says, “because I would work hard but then have to divide my harvest between them and myself.”