Pilot Watershed Improvement Initiative Kicks Off in Oé-Cusse

950 Tree Saplings Distributed at a Planting Ceremony in Oetfo, Oben

December 6, 2021

Regional Secretary of Agriculture and UNDP SAR ZEESM Program Manager Symbolically planting trees in Oetfo (oben)

Oé-Cusse, Timor-Leste (November 19th, 2021): Oetfo, Oben in the Suco of Costa in Oé-Cusse was the site of an important tree distribution and planting ceremony on November 19th, 2021. In the presence of the Regional Secretaries of Agriculture, Education, Commerce and Industry, and Land and Property, the Program Manager of UNDP SAR-ZEESM, 950 tree saplings were distributed and planted in the watershed. The tree saplings consisted of Albijia, Areca nut, Pandang, Rambutan, Bamboo and Dragon fruit, and were produced by local NGO AFFOS, a key partner in this UNDP funded project.

This initiative focuses on introducing water conservation and water management with the participation of community, by planting different types of trees in water catchment areas. This should result in the revitalization of springs in the watershed, and greater water storage in the soil during the rainy season through the development of swales, contour bunds, infiltration pits, stone bunds and trash bunds in the catchment area.

The activities were implemented in a four (4) hectare area with the participation of local leaders and 32 households in the village. Chief of Village of Oetfo Mr. Daniel Teme commented, “On behalf of my people I want to give our gratitude to SRAG, UNDP and AFFOS who have supported us in developing this water catchment and providing a small water supply system that has already started helping us in our daily lives.”

Director of AFFOS Mr. Francisco Cato remarked, “The aim of the activities is to conserve water and support the economic recovery of the area which has been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, by planting economically important trees.”  

For her part, UNDP SAR-ZEESM Program Manager Ms. Patricia Porras stated, “We recognize that water plays the most important part in daily life and agricultural activities, and this is why we have supported the community to work on water conservation.” Additionally, she thanked the Oben people and local leaders who have been part of the project and guided the community in the implementation.

Regional Secretary of Education and Social Solidarity Ms. Abelina da Costa remarked that she was grateful to be visiting Oben for the first time and was struck by the attractiveness of the area. She was also very impressed with the unique water conservation methods that were being implemented and encouraged the community to conserve the forests. This she felt would enhance the potential for agricultural and tourism development in Oben.