Subject: East Timor NGO Forum Statement to Donor's Meeting


Creating A Fruitful Partnership to Rebuild East Timor

More than one year has passed since the international community intervened to assist the East Timorese in establishing a full independent nation. In this period a considerable amount of funds and resources have been allocated by the donor countries to East Timor. While changes have been made and the first emergency year has passed with considerable success, some problems still remain unsolved. The East Timorese people still want to see substantive changes in the development process in East Timor, particularly at the community level.

East Timorese National NGO Forum represented more than 100 NGOs in East Timor are committed to contribute to the process of nation building, in close partnership with the international NGOs, and with donor representatives and UNTAET/ETTA. As part of this commitment, the national NGOs have continued to raise their concerns and critical views on the way the development in East Timor has been conducted, since the donor conference in Tokyo, December 1999. Some of these concerns were reiterated at the Lisbon conference with recommendations for further improvement.

However, little effort has been made to respond to our concerns and to follow up on our recommendations. The communities are still characterized by poverty, with very little access to resources and opportunities to be heard in the decision making process.

As part of civil society, the NGOs play a critical role in the consultation process to enable the democratic development of East Timor. We are therefore in a strong position to raise our concerns on the following issues:

1. Transparency and participation NGOs urge donors to be models of democratic process and promote public participation and openness. UNTAET/ETTA must provide sufficient information on the development process and consult effectively with the East Timorese people, especially those living in rural communities.

Donors need to encourage UNTAET/ETTA to become more flexible in their response to the needs of East Timorese people, by taking into account the input of the local communities in the decision-making process.

2. Access to funding mechanisms NGOs believe that a mechanism needs to be designed and implemented immediately to facilitate access to a section of the Trust Fund for East Timor for NGOs (including community groups and other sections of civil society). We also request donors to expand traditional bi-lateral funding mechanisms to make them accessible to national NGOs.

3. Priority areas: Donors need to prioritize funding for human resource development, education, agriculture, health, gender, environment and human rights and reconciliation.

Human Resource Development Institutional and organizational capacity building is critical to the development of East Timor. However, unless NGO's have access to regular funding, it is not possible for them to play a role in this area. Up to now it has been extremely difficult for NGOs to access these funds for their human resource development, capacity building and community development activities.

Education There is a pressing need to increase quality and access to education with particular emphasis on access for the rural population, girls and people with disabilities. Women in East Timor have generally had little access to education, for a number of political, cultural and traditional reasons. To ensure development of all sectors of society to take place it is essential that adult education, especially appropriate literacy education, be made available throughout East Timor.

Agriculture At present the majority of East Timorese are dependent on subsistence agriculture. The overwhelming population live in poverty is subject to climatic difficulties, limited access to markets, credit facilities, health services, and education and employment opportunities. Decentralization of both knowledge and resources is vital for the realization of a just and equitable development. NGOs recommend that donors and UNTAET/ETTA develop a sustainable agricultural plan for the future.

Health Access by the East Timorese, especially the rural people to quality health care is a major challenge. We recommend that the donors invest in improving the accessibility and quality of health care.

STDs/HIV/AIDS is an area of health, which is generally ignored both by government and by the population in general. NGOs recommend that the issue of STDs/HIV/AIDS be addressed seriously by providing greater access to funding for health care and relevant education.

Gender NGOs urge donors and the government to genuinely commit to policies and programs that will increase women's participation in decision making at all levels and increase women's access to health services, education and employment opportunities.

NGOs urge the government to strengthen the capacity of the legal system to provide protection and assistance to women and children who are victims of all forms of abuse and exploitation. NGOs encourage the raising of public awareness about all forms of violence against women.

Environment It is imperative that environmental issues are prioritized to ensure the sustainable development of East Timor. UNTAET/ETTA are responsible for conserving the environment by incorporating environmental protections in development planning.

Human rights and reconciliation More attention should be given to the East Timorese refugees who are still in West Timor. The return of refugees rapidly and safely is important for the rehabilitation of East Timor and the long-term prospects of peace and stability. The successful development of East Timor requires that justice be established as a vital component of the reconciliation process. Therefore, we urge donors to commit funds for justice initiatives and the rehabilitation of returnees in East Timor.

We appreciate the willingness of donors to contribute to rebuilding our nation. Local NGOs remain disposed to a fruitful partnership with donors and sincerely interested in positive and profound changes in the lives of the East Timorese people. Yet it bears repeating: the people cannot effectively influence development outcomes that effect quality of their own lives-from the outside. The people need to be both informed and heard. Confidence and trust will grow as real opportunities to be heard and influence the decision- making processes are established and maintained.

Presented by NGO Forum at Donor preparation meeting for Brussel in UNTAET Meeting Room

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