Inception Meeting for the ‘Culture and Development’ Project Held in the Village of Dair, Timor Leste, on the 19 February 2013
A first stakeholder’s consultative meeting on UNESCO’s Inter-Sectoral program entitled ‘Sustainable Development, Poverty Eradication and Empowerment of Vulnerable Communities in Timor-Leste through Safeguarding the Cultural and Natural Heritage’ was held in the Diar village, Liquica District, Timor Leste on 19 February, 2013. The meeting was held to introduce the project aims and activities and was attended by around forty people including central government officials and local community members.
During the meeting Mr.Masanori Nagaoka, Head of the Culture Unit at the UNESCO Office Jakarta, outlined that the project was being undertaken as part of UNESCO’s Small Island Developing States (SIDS) programme, and aims to stimulate local community empowerment and income generation through the promotion of Timor-Leste’s tangible and intangible cultural and natural assets. Mr. Nagaoka conveyed that local sustainable development can be achieved through joint-initiatives and combined efforts led by all stakeholders.
The Dair village has been chosen as a pilot site for the project due its rich cultural traditions and potential. During archaeological excavations in Dair executed over the last few years by the National Directorate of Culture of the Ministry of Tourism, significant amounts of pottery and earthenware were found, including two complete small jars that are potentially from the prehistoric period. Such an amount of local earthenware suggests that the village of Dair was probably until very recently, an important centre for earthenware production. However, local knowledge for making this earthenware has disappeared due to the use of more modern materials such as plastic and glass.
From April 2013 UNESCO, in collaboration with the Timor Leste authorities and the Dair community, will commence a series of community workshops in order to revitalize the disappearing knowledge of traditional pottery making in Dair village and to generate income for the local community. It is hoped that this project will empower the local community to combine local knowledge and wisdom with the existing archaeological and ethnographic information, in order to develop sustainable and self-sufficient tourism products and industries.