Social and Economic Development in Oecusse, Timor-Leste.

Research Project into Impacts of Economic Development and Border Policy Options for Oecusse, Timor-Leste
Stage One: Terms of Reference for Stage Two of Study, for Oxfam Australia, Timor-Leste

Timeframe:                  June 2007-January 2008
Researchers:               Kym Holthouse and Dr Damian Grenfell
Consultancy for:          Oxfam Australia, Timor-Leste
Publications:                Report in English and Indonesian (report and cover

This study was commissioned by Oxfam Australia as the first stage of a two-part research project. The project brief for this stage (Stage One) was to provide a scoping study of socio-economic issues related to economic and border policy options in the enclave of Oecusse, Timor-Leste and to develop a suitable Terms of Reference (ToR) for a more in-depth future study. 

In a three-week timeframe, researchers from the Globalism Research Centre, RMIT University undertook investigative work in both Oecusse and Dili. They spoke with a wide variety of people from a range of organizations so as to ascertain and document the dominant discourses about the material conditions, prospects and aspirations that shape the day-to-day lives and opportunities of those living in the enclave. The researchers also sourced and examined documents that are often difficult to access but that bear upon and provide context for the major discourses present in current-day Oecusse. 

This report presented a preliminary picture of the complexities and challenges faced by the Oecusse community and those organizations working to provide it with support, recognizing both the history of the Timor-Leste nation generally and the specific and unique characteristics of Oecusse district. As part of this scoping study, four major areas of discourse circulating with regard to Oecusse have been delineated: governance and autonomy; Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and foreign investment; agriculture and forestry; and border issues and solutions. The report also outlined a series of recommendations that provide clear options into further research about to what extent future economic development may align with the needs and interests of Oecusse communities. 

Download the final report here.