RAEBIA Timor-Leste’s signature community development model has today been endorsed as best practise approach by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries at its quarterly development partner meeting.
At an open forum at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries attended by diplomats including the Ambassadors to the European Union and Australia, ministry staff and representatives from international and national non-government organisations, the director-general of forestry, Manuel Mendes, reiterated the commitment he made yesterday in his department’s own development partner meeting.
“We all have different ideas, approaches and methodologies for the same watershed, which makes it very confusing for the communities,” he said. “We need to ask which approach is best. Development partners must share what they have already, so we don’t repeat. We have agreed in our meeting to use the participatory land use plan.”
The participatory land use plan is an approach to natural resource management designed by JICA and RAEBIA Timor-Leste currently operating in 29 sucos across Timor-Leste. A grassroots approach that involves extensive community consultation and the development of community-led land use regulations, the plan regulates how and for what purpose agricultural land can be used, to ensure its continued health and prosperity.
Accepting the director-general’s comments, the minister for agriculture and fisheries, Estanislau da Silva, endorsed the department’s intention to map every geographic area its development partners work in before its next quarterly meeting.
“It’s very critical now,” the minister said. “It’s better to have everything mapped. The Ministry of Planning is intending to map the whole country using technology, including mapping the watersheds and the land use. We need to gather data for forestry and agro-forestry.”
The Ambassador to the European Union, the honourable Alexandre Leitão, praised the department of forestry for the streamlined approach taken by its development partners.
“One important thing to realise is that all forestry development partners talk to communities in the same way,” he said.
The Ambassador to Australia, the honourable Peter Doyle, also addressed the crowd on behalf of the development partners, congratulating the ministry on the successes achieved in its portfolio in the sixth constitutional government, and reiterating the partners’ support for the ministry’s work.
The forestry development partners will meet again in September. RAEBIA Timor-Leste, which has been working with the participatory land use plan model since 2007, will this month start work to implement the model in Natarbora, Manatuto municipality with support from the United Nations Development Programme.
Sophie Raynor | RAEBIA Timor-Leste