Research consortium

  • Main applicant: Dr A.W. Bedner (Van Vollenhoven Institute, the Netherlands) 
  • Co-applicant: Dr T. Wassel (The Asia Foundation, Timor-Leste)

Project information

Five hundred years of colonial rule and occupation have bequeathed a complex state of conflicting land claims that threaten Timor-Leste's stability. This situation has been aggravated by growing state-led dispossession. Many aspects of the problem have been examined politically, but one factor has been consistently overlooked: the lack of reliable, consistent, and independently collected data about land that can inform government policies, civil society advocacy, and donor community interventions. Administrative and legislative decisions are based on assumptions rather than on evidence collected in the field, and they are the result of weak civil-society advocacy and avoidance of the land sector by donors. This project expands TAF's Community Safety program, providing it with the capacity to address this gap. Through a consultative, participatory process, this project will develop a questionnaire about land tenure, disputes, expectations, and perceptions. This questionnaire will be piloted in three municipalities and incorporated into TAF's ongoing program, through which the instrument will be expanded and replicated annually. This will provide annual land-related quantitative data that can be used for relevant land policies, advocacy, and donor interventions. The participatory approach adopted aims to prompt the government to develop urgent public policies that address 'not worsen' land-related conflict.

Project results