Who

We’re partnering with local organizations and government at all levels to better address the needs of citizens in rural communities.

What

The program increases citizen engagement and access to justice by building more inclusive local governance.

Where

100 sucos (villages) across five districts in Timor-Leste: Ermera, Liquica, Baucau, Oecusse and Covalima.

How

We’re building the capacity of organizations at all levels in Timor-Leste to better connect with one another and citizens.

Challenge

Timor-Leste regained independence in May 2002 following years of colonial rule and occupation. While the threat of violence has largely subsided, young state institutions, poor public service delivery and a largely inaccessible justice system all put the country’s stability at risk. As nearly 80% of citizens reside in rural areas, many rural populations are disconnected from centralized government, relying on under-resourced village (suco)-level councils for service delivery and dispute resolution. More must be done to inform citizens about their rights to accessible legal aid and inclusive governance.

Promise

Mai Munisipiu, Come to the Municipalities, (formerly called Ba Distrito – To the Districts) builds the capacity of local suco councils to strengthen citizen participation and representation in their communities. It further strengthens the relationship between those local councils and the government at the municipal level to improve access to justice and citizen engagement in the governance process. To achieve this, the project will…

Strengthen the capacity of the social sector to improve engagement by:

  • providing training to build the organizational capacity of 100 suco (village) councils to improve their responsiveness to citizen needs and increase collaboration with local government; and
  •  Supporting advocacy and citizen engagement initiatives that advance decentralization laws and the creation and dissemination of legal information.

Provide institutional support to government to ensure fair and transparent governance by:

  • Strengthening district court and local justice sector institutions;
  • Building the capacity of electoral management bodies and promoting civic engagement in the electoral process that is inclusive of women, young people and people with disabilities; and
  • Developing a legal aid framework and increasing the capacity of legal aid organizations to reach more citizens.

Impact

  • 2545 rural community members (1214 women) reached through legal outreach, with 635 (177 women) benefiting from free legal assistance;
  • 6 training modules delivered to up to three suco council members from 100 sucos on leadership and communication, access to justice and women’s rights, conflict resolution, fundraising, project design, proposal writing, and project management resulted in a 25% increase in their knowledge and implementation of key organizational development principles;
  • 100 Suco Councils provided with ongoing technical assistance to further enhance the skills gained through their training;
  • 74 sucos achieved improved service delivery to 1000s of citizens in the areas of agriculture, education, health, water and sanitation as a result of 8 advocacy forums convened between village councils and the municipal government;
  • 52 journalists trained, including 15 women from five municipalities, on decentralization legislation and policy, and the new Suco Law and local elections process; and
  • 36 workshop forums aimed at increasing local level participation.

Publications

  • Baseline Assessment —  measures citizen perception of, satisfaction with, and confidence in local governance structures and services
  • Access to Justice Brief: Court Functionality — a functional assessment of the Oecusse & Baucau District Courts
  • Access to Justice Brief: Legal Aid in Timor-Leste — an analysis of the existing legal framework to identify gaps, and other challenges to effective legal aid in Timor Leste
  • Access to Justice Brief: Community Dispute Resolution in Timor Leste — a legal and human rights analysis that explores ways to maximize links between formal and informal systems while improving the community’s access to justice.
  • Suco Council’s Role in Effective Local Governance — Analysis and recommendations to strengthen Suco Council governance in accordance with their capacity, resources and authority
  • New Voices: The Engagement of Young Timorese in the Political Process
  • Disability Inclusion Monitoring Report

Sustainable Development Goals Addressed

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Partners

Funder: United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Collaborators: TetraTech DPK; Belun, Fundasaun Fatuk Sinai Oecusse; Commisao Justica E Paz; Judicial System Monitoring Programme; Liberta and Asosiasaun Radio Komunidade Timor-Leste; Ministry of State Administration; Ministry of Justice; Court of Appeal; National Electoral Commission; Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration; Special Administrative Region of Oecusse.

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