Posted by: rlearmonth | February 10, 2008

Preparing for the field

The project is currently being housed in an old building previously occupied by the DNTP, which is a Portugues acronym meaning something like, “National Directorate for Property Rights.” The old building is run down, unsafe according to the architect who is helping us renovate it. The project will have to vacate the building for a few months while the renovations are completed. To accomplish this, we have installed temporary, mobile offices on the grounds of the building. These temporary office look disturbingly like shipping containers, which is basically what they are, although some windows and a door have been cut into them, and they are being outfitted with electricity and air conditioners. One of the temporary offices will serve as a conference room, and one will have toilets installed. Seven are now place, and another two are on order.

After the old building is renovated, project headquarters will move back, and the temporary offices will be relocated around the country to serve as temporary field offices. Teams of three people will staff the units, which will be outfitted with computers and GPS equipment that will enable the staff to register all land and property claims in the areas where they are located. As registration is completed in an area, the units will be moved.

Moving the offices around the country will be an heroic effort, given the topography of Timor-Leste, and the roads. Although it is a small country, it is mountainous, with isolated villages in extremely hard to reach places. One of our outreach teams, in an earlier project, drove in an all-wheel drive vehicle for six hours, then trekked on foot for another six to reach a particular village.

We plan to pilot test the system in two parts of the country in May. We are anxious about this, but expect it will answer some of the many questions we still have about the best way to proceed.



  1. Hi Bob,
    My husband and I are here in Timor-Leste (in Dili) teaching journalism. I’d be interested in talking to you about your work, as I’d like to get them some background on what’s being done to resolve the property issues.

    Drop me an email if we can meet, thanks.

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