source: kopernik

Back from Oecusse, Timor-Leste

We’ve just returned from a trip to Oecusse, Timor-Leste where we met with our partner NGO – Fundesaun Esperanza Enclave Oecusse (the Hope Foundation of Oecusse Enclave) to review current and future projects as well as meet with several community groups to discuss water and energy challenges and solutions.

We met with several ‘self-help groups’ in the Suco (an administrative division) of Sune Ufe. Self-help groups are typically made up of the poorer members of the community and majority of the membership comprises women. The self-help groups are managed by the members and usually include a savings and loan scheme, as well as a range of activities to improve the livelihoods of the community.

One of the issues we talked about with each of the groups was lighting. Sune Ufe does not have any electricity and people rely on kerosene lamps, like the one featured here for their source of lighting.

A household typically has 3-4 of these lamps going at one time as the light is not very bright and spends between $4-$6 per month on kerosene. Many people complained about the smoke and fumes from the lamps and reported that the lamps regularly lead to fires.

We introduced to the groups a range of different solar lamps that we feature on Kopernik. The response was extremely positive and the level of interest in purchasing the lamps (preferably on an installment basis) was huge. People were excited about the fact that following an initial investment they would no longer have to fork out money for kerosene, leaving more money for other household expenses. We have a project in the pipeline to light up Oecusse, beginning with the Suco of Sune Ufe and plan to get the first shipment of lamps there very soon.

The self-help group members will also sell lamps to their neighbors, making money on each sale. Through this scheme they’ll get even more money in their pockets.

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