Aid in Timor Leste not effective, Minister of Economy Gonsalves says

Timor Leste CSO InitiativesDili - “The ten-year presence of aid has not been effective in Timor Leste”, thus summarizes the speech of Minister of Economy and Development Sr. Joao Gonsalves during a CSO-led multi-stakeholder consultation on aid and development effectiveness in Dili from August 22-23.  He added that poverty has in fact increased from 33.7 to 49.9% from 2001-2007 according to a joint survey by the World Bank (WB) and the government, despite the influx of ODA to the country right after its independence from Indonesia in 1999.

According to Sr. Gonsalves, WB projects were ineffective and not based on community needs, recalling the mini-market project in Natarbora which did not have any water or toilet facility.

Apart from ineffective projects that did not go through genuine consultation with communities, Sr. Helder da Costa, National Directorate for Aid Effectiveness, says that a big chunk of ODA pays for consultancy fees in some cases. In this situation, UNTL Rector Aurelio Gutteres stresses the need to develop local capacity among civil society and government so as not to depend highly on foreign consultancy.

Sr. Gonsalves encouraged the active participation of civil society and communities, saying that their genuine participation in the implementation and management of projects lead to positive results. This was supported by workshop reports from the consultation which showed that a number of UN projects failed because the latter only used or treated CSOs as mere “instruments” to implement the projects.

During the two-day activity, CSO participants identified national priorities and actions which CSOs can take up to contribute towards making aid pro-poor and pro-people in the country. They also drafted messages for their donors and government representatives attending Busan and commented and signed on to the CSO Key Asks.

95% of Timor Leste’s national budget comes from oil and the remaining 5% from ODA.

The CSO workshop and multi-stakeholder consultation was organized by FONGTIL (Timor Leste NGO Forum) and the Reality of Aid, with support from BetterAid.