Enhancing Rural Access (ERA) Project

Enhancing Rural Access (ERA) Project

When a short road makes a huge difference

In communities where cash earnings are usually very low, the programme contributes to generate additional income for rural families. Also, thanks to the improved roads, local communities have access to a significantly improved public transport system and increased economic activity

Roberto Pes, ILO Head of Mission in Timor-Leste.


Timor-Leste is one of the least developed countries in the region. Its economy is essentially agriculture-based, with approximately 75% of its total population of about 1.1 million living in rural areas. A key constraint to economic development is the poor condition of infrastructure in general, and the road network in particular. To substantially improve the quality of life of its people and to reduce the incidence of poverty, the Government has prioritized the accelerated development and improvement the road network, which is seen as being fundamental to the country’s development.


  • The objective is to improve access and income opportunities for rural communities through rehabilitation and maintenance of rural roads by trained contractors.
  • The Project's aim is to capacitate local civil works contractors to make sure that they are competent in labour-based rural road rehabilitation and contracts management, ensuring that that rural road rehabilitation contracts are effectively executed.
  • Labour-based technology (LBT) optimizes the use of productive labour and complements the use of labour with essential equipment necessary to meet the specified technical and engineering standards.


  • Capacity has been developed and institutionalised within national training providers to deliver nationally certified training to small scale contractors in rural road works.
  • Staff from more than 200 local construction companies have been trained and certified to effectively carry out rural road works using a labour-based approach.
  • The trained contractors have completed 140 km of rural roads, improving access to markets and services for more than 7000 households.
  • The Project has generated some 500 000 working days for more than 8000 beneficiaries injecting well over 2.5 million US$ as wages into the local economy.


  • 140 km of rural roads rehabilitated and maintained
  • 7300 households have access to improved rural roads
  • Don Bosco and IADE and accredited by INDMO (the National Labour Force Development Institute) to deliver technical training modules, contract and business management training to civil works contractors
  • 200 contracting companies certified by ERA for rural road rehabilitation
  • Over 500 000 working days generated for some 8000 beneficiaries with 25% women participation


This is a short-term job but it brings precious extra cash for the family

47-year-old Adriano Ximenes Trindade lives in Hatugau Village, Ermera, a land-locked district in the western-central part of Timor-Leste. He and his wife Pasquela have seven children, which is not unusual for a family in this country.

They are getting by as subsistence farmers and their little income comes from selling agricultural products such as corn and sweet potatoes. Coffee-growing activities bring them an additional US$ 400 per season. But the journey to the market is long and difficult and the money they make is not enough to pay for school items or medicine.

One year ago, Trindade was recruited by a local construction company to work on the Letefoho Vila-Leimea Sorinbalu road. This is a 10.5 km stretch that connects villages to the market in Letefoho Vila and beyond. All in all, some 1 500 households will benefit from the new road. This is a short-term job but it brings precious extra cash for the family, and the construction of the new road has been a win-win situation for them.

"Before, we had no job opportunities. Then the road project came and we were really happy to get involved. The work can be hard at times, but we are happy to have it. An improved road makes transport easier and now we feel that we can better support ourselves," said Trindade.