|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The Project will contribute to improving the socioeconomic conditions and health of the populations Ermera, Oecussi and other district to be identified, by improving their management of water resources . The Project is expected to reduce the incidence of water-related diseases and raise household incomes in Oecussi and Ermera and other district, particularly for women.
Access to Safe Water and Sanitation. Unsafe water and inadequate sanitation are two of the main causes of poor health in Timor-Leste and the primary causes of diarrhea and child malnutrition. The under-five mortality rate in Oecussi is higher than the national average which is attributed, in part, to the low percentage of their population with access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation. In the main town of Oecussi, Pante Makasar, the dilapidated state of water supply assets and the lack of institutional capacity within the Oecussi Water and Sanitation Department have resulted in an unsafe and unreliable water supply system with many of the town's population of 17,000 receiving water for only a few hours per week or not receiving any water. In addition, peri-urban communities in Oecusse show lower access levels to improved sanitation than the national average possibly, due to a lack of awareness and low financial capacity to invest in basic infrastructure at the household level. This is having an impact on people's health and causing the contamination of shallow wells used by those households without a connection to the network or sufficient hours of service. Consequently, the incidence of water-related diseases is high. In addition to the direct health impact on the population, the lack of access to safe water contributes significantly to the workload of women because of the time spent fetching water for household chores as well as caring for children affected by water-related diseases, which is a burden generally assumed by women .
Income Generation Opportunities. In Timor-Leste, 50 percent of the population lives on less than $0.80 per capita per day , which is below the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of $1.25 per capita per day. Of employed Timorese, those engaged in farming have the highest poverty incidence and account for 88% of the poor. The economies of both Oecussi and Ermera are based on low productivity farming and provide very few employment opportunities outside of farming. In Ermera and Oecussi Districts, farming and unpaid housework are the main occupations for 72% of the population which is higher than in any other district. In Timor-Leste, the low productivity of farming activities and limited diversification of the economy are related to the destruction of infrastructure in the last decade, the difficulty in accessing inputs such as seeds or irrigation, and the lack of access to markets. In the case of Ermera, the situation is exacerbated by damage to the Debo Lehumo Lake weirs in the sub-district of Eraulo, which until 2003 provided year-round water for fish farming and irrigation. The integrity of the embankment on the eastern side of the Lake is at risk due to the rapid growth of an erosion gully, which was triggered by a flood in 2003, in conjunction with weak risk management capacity. Erosion control measures are urgently required to prevent subsequent loss of land and ameliorate income generating opportunities in Ermera. In both targeted areas, women face an additional burden in accessing income generating activities due to their reproductive workloads. Culture and traditions further limit their employment opportunities as does the existing difference in wages for men and women.
Improving roads and water supply are the highest priorities for the Government of Timor-Leste followed by food security. In accordance with these priorities, the Government of Timor-Leste has requested Asain Development Bank's (ADB) assistance to rehabilitate the Pante Makasar water supply system, improve sanitation in Oecussi District, and rehabilitate Debo Lehumo Lake in the sub-district of Eraulo to enable fish farming and irrigation activities to recommence.