New program strengthens the relationship between the government and the citizens in Timor-Leste

October 23, 2013

In February 2017, the Ba Distrito program was renamed to Mai Munisipiu.

Arlington, Virginia — A new program, Ba Distrito, aimed at strengthening institutional and human capacity in Timor-Leste will reach approximately 100 village (suco) councils, putting citizens at the center of political discourse and access to justice efforts. The new project will help facilitate the community’s contribution to the wider vision of improved decentralized governance in the country.

Partnering with Tetra Tech DPK, an international justice sector strengthening organization and funded by the American people through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the goal of the four year program is to improve local government’s ability to address community needs and increase its capacity to facilitate delivery of services more effectively, efficiently and sustainably.

“The Ba Distrito program will partner with the Government of Timor-Leste in support of its efforts to improve services at the local level by strengthening the ability of institutions such as suco councils and justice sector agencies to engage with and represent the interests of citizens at the grassroots level. Using Counterpart International’s proven methodologies, Ba Distrito will prepare local government bodies and citizens to together plan and execute a decentralization agenda that has a positive impact on communities in Timor-Leste,” stated Alex Sardar, Vice President, Programs at Counterpart International.

The program will work within five districts in Timor-Leste, one of which will be the isolated enclave of Oecusse.

Meeting citizen demand for improved public services and access to justice

The people of Timor-Leste face a number of challenges in improving governance and access to justice at the local level. The country’s brief history has been marked by intense violence, nascent state institutions, poor public service delivery and the inability to access a fair justice system.

There is a lack of citizen engagement—nearly 80 per cent of Timorese live in rural areas and have little knowledge of formal state and justice sector institutions. They have few opportunities to participate in the formal processes to petition for improved public and justice services.

The program will have a particular emphasis on the inclusion of marginalized populations including women, youth, minorities, people with disabilities and individuals with low literacy skills. Counterpart will help  citizens better understand their role in political process, involve them in the political discourse and support their advocacy and oversight for good governance and access to justice.

Bridging the gap of gender inequality

One of Timor-Leste’s most daunting challenges is the lack of equality between men and women. Women are under-represented in national and local politics. Through this program, Counterpart’s activities in ensuring gender equality and integration will include placing a strong emphasis on addressing violence against women, seeking to raise awareness of the negative societal impacts of gender-based violence and improved access to services for victims.

USAID administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide. USAID is working with Timor-Leste to strengthen its institutional and human capacity to build a more prosperous, healthy, and democratic country, focusing on governance, economic growth, and health

Counterpart International helps people build better lives and more durable futures, community by community. For 50 years, Counterpart has been an innovator, changing the way people look at, and solve, global development challenges. Today, we are working with more than 3,500 local organizations, and more than 150,000 leaders — including women and youth — in 24 countries around the world.

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