Our impact, their voices

Improved rural roads in Timor-Leste lead to better livelihoods and inclusiveness

An ILO initiative to involve local contractors and communities in the rehabilitation of rural roads is helping provide jobs, improve livelihoods and promote inclusiveness in Timor-Leste.

Feature | Jakarta, Indonesia | 30 September 2021
Domingos Soares is building a dream house for his family

FATUMAKEREC Village, Timor-Leste, (ILO news) - Domingos Soares has been busy finishing the construction of his family’s dream house. After waiting for ten years, he is now able to realize a decent living for his wife and six children.

For years, they had been living a small shelter Mr Soares built with bamboo cladding. With time, the shelter was falling apart and not suitable for living. Making a living as a farmer, his income was only adequate for their daily needs and their children’s education.

“Farming has been the only way for my family to earn a living. I tried to save some money to build a dream house for my family, but I could only afford to build the foundation and have no money to buy materials for the roof and walls,” said Mr Soares, 35.

His life changed when he was selected as one of the workers for the ILO’s Enhancing Rural Access Agro–Forestry (ERA-AF) Project to rehabilitate the Boroasmanu – Fatumakerek rural road in Soibada in 2019. Funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the ILO, the project seeks to provide market linkages to agro-forestry communities through enhanced road access and to provide employment for local communities.

“I would like to thank God because I saw hope again when I had a chance to work, helping my community to have a better road,” he said. “At the same time, I am also able to earn better income and am now able to realize my dream to give my family  better living conditions.”

In addition to providing opportunities for people like Mr Soares and many others in rural areas, the project also promotes wider participation and inclusiveness of women, youth and people with disabilities. One of them is Meriantinha Gutteres, 29, a site engineer for a local contractor, appointed to rehabilitate the road.

Meriantinha Gutteres works side-by-side with local community in rehabilitating the rural road
A graduate from the National University of Timor-Leste (UNTL), majoring in Civil Engineering, Ms Gutteres appreciated the opportunity for her to contribute to the changes within the community through access to markets, employment, skills, gender participation and income support.

“The work is challenging and can be exhausting, but I love this job and I appreciate the opportunity to apply what I have learnt,” she said.

The project has awarded 34 contracts to local construction companies, of which 50 percent of the contracts awarded are women-owned firms. These contractors along with their engineers and site supervisors were provided with a 10-week classroom and field training programmes related to construction of rural roads using labour-based methods, pavement construction, maintenance as well as contracts and business management.

“These practical trainings enable me to implement works under real conditions. The jobs also show that women are capable and can perform good engineering works,” Ms Gutteres concluded.

For further information please contact

Albert Uriyo 
Project Manager
Enhancing Rural Access Agro–Forestry (ERA-AF) Project
Email: uriyo@ilo.org

Gita Lingga
ILO's Communications Officer
Email: gita@ilo.org