ABV Volunteer and development consultant and farmer from coastal NSW, Ian Oxenford completed a two month Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) assignment last month. He provided management advice to local NGO Institutu Matadalan Integradu in Timor Leste.

The organisation had been experiencing problems with writing proposals for rural development projects and so sought the help of an AVID volunteer to assist. Ian applied his skills in training and farming to address this problem, as well as his experiences performing similar roles in Vietnam and Myanmar.

Staff were guided in preparing a project in agroforestry for funding. The aim of this project is to reforest the hillsides in the immediate area to reduce erosion and landslides of sloping land and provide alternate sources of food. By improving the fertility and stability of sloping land in an area there would be greater food security. Locals said that seasonal hunger had become worse as result of climate change with the dry season becoming longer and hotter.

“Depending on the success of the project it could be replicated and multiplied to cover possibly thousands of hectares. If Timor Leste was to sign up to international carbon trading agreements there is scope for these types of projects to be eligible for carbon credits by fixing atmospheric carbon into trees and permanent vegetation,” said Ian.

Youth labour will be favoured for planting as the organisation has an established relationship with youth leaders and there is a significant number of unemployed youth in the town.

Ian”s counterpart, Leo Soares said, ”Maun Ian has opened our eyes to what is possible with good projects. We now know to focus on the community and environmental benefits of projects and not be so narrow, just looking at them as a source of funds.”

The AVID program is an Australian Government initiative. ABV in partnership with Austraining International, mobilises short-term business volunteers to Asia and the Pacific. Optimised by www.hoppingmad.com.au

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