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Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture
In mid-2001 a proposal to establish a single agency with responsibility for water resources was not accepted. The present arrangements are therefore built around a requirement for coordination among agencies, without any main body or specific coordinating mechanism in place (ADB, 2002).
The main institutions related to water and agriculture are:
- Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF): Mainly responsible for policy formulation, economic coordination and planning concerning food grain, other agricultural crops and livestock. It contains the Irrigation Division.
- Ministry of Development: Responsible for national policy programmes and plans regarding environment, pollution, ecology.
- National Directorate of Environmental Services (DNSMA in Portuguese): Responsible for pollution control, environmental policy, impact assessments, monitoring and awareness raising, and biodiversity. It is contained in the Secretariat for Environment Coordination, Territorial Ordering and Physical Development.
- Ministry of Natural Resources, Minerals and Energy Policy (MNRMEP): The role of this new ministry, as stated in the 2005/2006 budget papers, is to manage the natural resources of Timor-Leste efficiently and in a consistent and an environmentally acceptable way (AWRF, 2006).
Water resources in Timor-Leste are optimally managed (La’o Hamutuk, 2010).
WaterAid has worked in Timor-Leste since 2005 helping the country’s poorest people gain access to safe, sustainable water supplies and sanitation (Water Aid Australia, 2010).
In 2008, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) sought to appoint an Irrigation Consultant to assist the Irrigation Division to identify the required action to repair and maintain selected irrigation schemes and provide technical advice on planned rebuilding of other irrigation schemes (DebNetJobs, 2008).
According to the Strategic Development Plan, presented in 2010, the framework and policy direction of the development of the water resources must be gradually implemented as follows:
- Short-term (2010-2015): Formulation of a policy to preserve the water cycle balance. The short-term purpose and objectives are to protect the hydrology cycle to safeguard the natural conservation balance, especially forest, river, watershed, sea and coastal area conservation. Ongoing development must consider the environmental conservation factor.
- Mid-term (2015-2020): Utilization of water resources to meet the water demand of the society and to fulfill the energy demand. The mid-term purpose and objectives are to exploit water resources with appropriate technological use such as barrages and hydropower, with the intention of fulfilling water and energy demand of the society as the number of population grows.
- Long-term (>2020): Reduction of the dependency on diesel power generators, to be replaced using hydropower. The long-term purpose and objectives are to reduce the burden of diesel power generator use, since it is uneconomical and environmentally unfriendly for natural conservation.
The agricultural and rural sectors were severely disrupted owing to the civil disturbances in 1999 when the previous Indonesian system of highly subsidised support was withdrawn and a great deal of physical damage inflicted on the people, infrastructure and rural market systems. The donor community, through the World Bank, established the Trust Fund for Timor-Leste to provide financial means to rehabilitate many structures and mechanisms that were damaged or destroyed during the last months of occupation. In the agricultural sector, funds were channelled through the MAFF-managed Agricultural Rehabilitation Projects: ARP I, ARP II and ARP III. ARP I started in August 2000, which was completed in September 2002, including the rehabilitation of small irrigation schemes.
ARP II started in October 2001 and was completed in December 2004, continuing the restoration of agriculture assets, irrigation infrastructure and restoration of vaccination services with the general objective of improving the food security of rural families and increasing agricultural production in selected areas. ARP III began in April 2004 and was finished in 2007, the objective was to strengthen the capacity of MAFF and its development partners and assist rural communities sustainably increase their production and income (MAFF, 2004).
Policies and legislation
The current limited demand for water development lends weight to the view that comprehensive and sophisticated policies are not warranted. However, the water and sanitation and the irrigation agencies all perceive the need for a water resources policy from their perspective (ADB, 2002).