CSO Focus – United Women for Development Association Baucau

Bendita (39) is married and has four children, 2 boys and 2 girls.  Bendita and her family live in Baucau, Timor-Leste. She is one of the founders of United Women for Development Association (Asosiasaun Feto ba Dezenvolvimentu/AUFD) a Civil Society Organisation established in 2008. Bendita has lead this woman focused organization as executive director for five years, since 2016. She is currently leading 7 staff, F:5 & M:2.

AUFD began its operations without funding and all staff working voluntarily without payment.  AUFD learnt through experiences and applied for a few funding opportunities and firstly received funding from Pe. Rolando and then some more funding from Caritas Australia. After few years, AUFD began to work in partnership with different national and international agencies; however, all the funding received up to this moment has only been for short term projects of no more than one-year.

To support the implementation of its activities, AUFD also running small fund raising through staff contributions, capacity building services fees, and sell the products from the women’s groups established and lead by the organization. The groups also contribute 10% for the organisation and annually this organization have the total income of $2,000.00, which is not enough to respond to the needs of the organization.

Most of the funding received from donors were for short term projects that run for six months to one year term and then they submit another proposal again to compete with other organisations. The same donors that provided funds for the activities, are not focused and do not guarantee the sustainability of the project activities; the same donors that provided funds for one project activity this year and next year they provide funds for different activities. “One of the challenges in my organization is that there is no transport for field monitoring and controlling, we only use two motorbikes belonging to staff and the organization only provide fuel and the organization only responsible for some minor maintenance, because we have very limited funds,” said Bendita.

She also added that they have enough agricultural products but lack access to market, “we established women groups for raising chickens, planting vegetables, produce rice, corn and sweet potatoes with some non-food handicraft but no body come to buy the products and we do not have enough space to accumulate those stocks. We tried to collect some agricultural products to put together in our office – no buyer come to buy then we asked the groups to come and collect them Text, whiteboard

Description automatically generatedback and sell at the market; very sad to see this happen to the groups because they are hard workers with strong motivations and commitment.”

“There is no access to water both for drinking and other needs, all community living in this village and other nearby villages have no access to water and they have to buy water every day for the family needs with the price $.5.00 – $.12.00 per 500 liters, the price vary depending on the demand and this have to be ordered in advance because of very limited suppliers and sometimes we should wait for the next day to get the water we ordered today,” she emphasized.

AUFD is currently seeking for funding opportunities, specifically to respond to the need of the community in accessing clean water as it is affecting the life of the people. Some communities planting vegetables and some growing flowers for selling, but they have to fetch the water with motorbike from other villages to water their vegetables and flowers.  AUFD also planning to organize a meeting with government, especially national directorate for water and sanitation but still in process of gathering information from the community. AUFD planned to prepare and submit proposal to relevant agencies to support in terms of water supply; if fully implemented, AUFD planned to establish a management group that composed of women to take care of the entire process including managing the contributions from the community to guarantee the sustainability.  She is hoping that with the support through this project could help to reduce the issue they are facing as a women focus organisation as well as the issues facing by the community especially by the established women groups.