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East Timor is the newest country in the world which got total independence on May 20, 2002. ... ensure that the people of East Timor have access to water for health and ...

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water and sanitation policies in timor leste
Water and Sanitation Policies in Timor Leste


Gregorio de Araujo


Adao soares Barbosa

As a paper work for the First Policy Forum on Urban environmental Management in Southeast Asia, 18-19 August 2005 in Thailand


Country overview

  • East Timor is the newest country in the world which got total independence on May 20, 2002.
  • It has a total land area of 14,862 sq kilometers with a total population number of 924,642 people which has illiteracy people of 48%, and life expectancy is 65.2 years.
  • Environmental problems have been concerned in the region in terms of land clearing for agricultural and cooking fuel purposes, and lack of liquid and solid waste management, and so on.
  • in addition, people have limited access to clean water and inadequate sanitation systems due to the destruction of infrastructure after people voted for independence in 1999.
2 policy
2. Policy

2.1. National Initiatives

  • Water supply and Sanitation (WSS/SAS) is one of governmental organizations that has been adopted to provide clean water and sanitation, and waste management system in the region
  • The WSS aims: to ensure the communities of Timor Leste have access to water and sanitation services which considered as essential for public health, protection of the environment and for promotion of economic growth.
  • Water regulation number 4/2004 recognizes the following issues as the prime matters to address in the management of water resources in East Timor:

a. fresh water is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment;

b. water development and management should be based on a participatory approach, involving users, planners and policy-makers at all levels;

c. women play a central role in the provision, management and safeguarding of water,

d. water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognized as a social and an economic good

national initiatives continue
National Initiatives…Continue
  • WSS applies a semi-autonomous water authority, including infrastructure management, customer services, human resources management, and financial management and user-billing.
  • WSS provides Capacity building programsfor staff and technicians to improve skills and knowledge to deal with constraint such as lack of qualified person in the project
  • WSS is cooperating with various institutions through bilateral, multilateral cooperation, and private sectors and NGOs for the implementation and operation or maintenance of the water supply facilities
For Community water supply & sanitation program: WSS/SAS Involves communities as owner who take responsibility for management of facilities with assistance from NGOs as implementing partners, and donors to provide funding for capital works and capacity building. WSS only supports this process through active involvement in planning, donor coordination, establishing technical standards and guidelines; and monitoring and evaluation.
  • Urban Sanitation:WSS/SAS involves communities and the private sectors to undertake solid waste collection and transport, and its disposal, septage collection and treatment, drain clearing, etc.
2.2. Policy statement – Policy thrusts
  • The principal objective of water quality management is to provide protection to water resources quality.

Protection of water quality must be based on a master plan, include dilution water quality standard and continuous monitoring.

  • The monitoring report must be reliable, because it will be used for the preparation of measures in water quality improvement.
  • If the water quality becoming better, the limited water quantity can be utilized to fulfill various needs and water saving effort can be accomplished.
Scope Master Plan shall conclude the following basic requirements:
  • Consisting with the government policy, program, low, and regulations.
  • All these sectors program consist of watershed management, water quality and quantity, flood control management and river environmental management and solid waste disposal system
  • Water demand forecast by sector domestic, agriculture, industry, river management and other water requirement.
  • Water resources development program
  • Comprehensive program for realizing impartial welfare from water to all inhabitants living in the basin,
  • Environmental assessment, protection, requirement and method.

Therefore WatSan Sector in its objectives to manage the water resources of Timor – Leste in a sustainable, efficient and equitable manner to:

  • ensure that the people of East Timor have access to water for health and sanitation purposes;
  • contribute to the minimization of adverse impacts on the quality and quantity of water that is available to the people of East Timor .
  • contribute to the economic development of East Timor.
2.3. Implication:

Gender equality : Women play a central role in the provision, management and safeguarding of water.

Gender equality refers to equal opportunities and outcomes for women and men.

3. Policy formulation process

3.1. Approaches:

3.1.1. Agency Coordination and Cooperation:

To ensure that the objects of this Regulation are achieved, the Director is required to regularly consult and cooperate with:

  • the heads of other agencies that have a role in water resources to ensure that plans, strategies, programs and activities are integrated and coordinated;
  • other officers of Departments and organizations in the development or water management plans to ensure that those plans provide optimal benefit for the health of the people of East Timor, agriculture and the environment;
  • other officersof Departments and organizations relating to the economic development of East Timor to ensure that plans, strategies and programs optimize the net economic benefit to East Timor
3.1.2. Customary Law and Traditions:

The principles that will apply to community managed water supply systems are founded on customary law, including:

  • traditional approaches for deciding leaders and members of teams or groups to manage water for a village or community;
  • traditional approaches for deciding matters such as fees or charges for water supply services;
  • traditional ceremonies for agreeing to share water between villages and communities;
  • traditional dispute resolution processes.
3.2. Involvement of stakeholders

3.2.1. Public-Private Partnerships:

  • WSS/SAS relies on other (third) parties to assist it and provide support in the provision of services to the community. These parties include: Donors which provide funding for programs and projects; Private sector – contractors, consultants, suppliers and other service providers; NGOs
  • There is a need to ensure close cooperation and coordination with donors in order that donor programs are efficiently implemented.
  • There are significant capacity constraints among private sector service providers and NGOs and WSS/SAS can assist in strengthening these agencies through its activities.
3.2.2. Gender Equality:

Women play a central role in the provision, management and safeguarding of water.

Gender equality refers to equal opportunities and outcomes for women and men. This involves the removal of discrimination and structural inequalities in an access to resources, opportunities and services, and the promotion of equal rights. Equality does not mean that the women should be the same as men. Promoting equality recognizes that men and women have different roles and needs, and take these into account in development planning and programming.

4. Policy Implementation tools and Instruments
  • 4.1. Regulatory:
  • Guiding Principles
  • In the performance of its role the Ministry of Water and Public Works will apply the following guiding principles:
  • To establish and maintain a position as the primary organization responsible for the management, engineering and operation of infrastructure in East Timor.
  • To work in cooperation with other Government ministries, agencies, district administrations and communities in ensuring the efficient delivery of services.
  • To utilize the private sector to the maximum extent possible in the cost effective delivery of projects, programs and services, and to support and promote the development of the private sector in this role.
  • To generally ensure that ownership and management of facilities and services is undertaken at the lowest appropriate level in the community.
  • To wherever possible, promote equity between regions and between urban and rural communities.
  • To ensure the protection of the natural and man-made environment, safety from natural disasters, and the protection of human life.
4.2. Economic/Financial

The WSS has ensured that the 2005-06 programs will not significantly increase RDTL operating costs in the future years. WSS/SAS is also working closely with all WatSan stakeholders (including TFET PMU, bilateral donors and NGOs) to further minimize future operating costs by encouraging the alignment of their projects with WSS/SAS program objectives. Some activities, such as capacity building, water resource management, water demand management, and leakage control will decrease future operating costs.

Revenue Raising
  • WSS/SAS has yet to re-introduce water user charges, A tariff system is proposed for urban water supply but progress with implementation has been slow. Draft legislation has now been prepared, a tariff study has been undertaken and WSS/SAS has preparing an implementation plan to enable billing to be introduced for consumers in Dili since 2003. Implementation of a limited system of billing for high volume consumers is planned prior to the uniform implementation of a system for Dili.
  • Key steps in the implementation of a tariff and billing system include:

Approval of legislation;

Setting and approval of tariff policy and tariff notification;

Implementation of an IEC program to inform customers of tariff & billing proposals;

  • Registration of customers and installation of meters;

Planning design and implementation of meter reading, billing and collection system including training of SAS staff (or appointment of private sector service providers).

4.3. Education and Promotion including Public Information:

Community participation in WSS/SAS program is important from a number of perspectives. WSS/SAS is a service provider and needs to respond to the needs of consumers (within a defined framework). Therefore it is essential that the community are informed about SAS program and have the opportunity to contribute to their development and implementation. This is important across all sub-sectors including urban water supply, community water supply & sanitation, and urban sanitation.

SAS also requires community support to assist in the management of assets. This is not simply the case in community water supply & sanitation where the community in fact owns the assets, but it also applies in the case of urban water supply, and urban sanitation. The community need to be informed about a wide range of water and sanitation issues in order that they will support SAS in management of its assets and the delivery of services. It is particularly important to gain community trust in order to minimise wilful damage to assets by consumers.


Community information, education and communication programs are required to inform communities about SAS activities. These programs will be generally of two types:

General IEC programs to inform communities about a range of water and sanitation issues on a regular basis;

Specific IEC programs designed to inform communities and generate feedback on specific programs and projects such as for example proposed new capital works, the introduction of tariffs, UFW programs etc.

monitoring and management
Monitoring and Management
  • WSS provides:
  • urban water supply service in Dili and district main towns with a monitoring in a regular basis
  • Waste water and its service in Dili (under going Planning)
  • Managing water supply and its service, monitoring water use for urban areas, and coordinating with donators to assist clean water for both urban and rural areas
monitoring and management continue
Monitoring and management….continue
  • Implementing urban solid waste collection and its safe disposal in Dili and district main towns.
  • Laboratory analysis for water quality monitoring in Dili
  • Spring controlling areas in purpose to achieve clean water in Dili and districts main towns along with traditional low of tarabandu
5. Conclusions:
  • As a New country, Timor Leste has various environmental problems in which community has limited access to clean water and better sanitation. It has been concerned by the government that Water represented an important component for the life of human being and other living things.
  • Therefore, Water resources should be conserved and kept in sustainable condition both from quality and quantity point of view.
  • One effort is to carry out water resources and quality management in accordance to the master plan, which had been set up among others by controlling water pollution.
  • WSS has been chosen as part of governmental body to deal with water supply and sanitation, and solid waste management systems