Latest content

on 18 Sep, 17:55

Barry’s Place – Ecolodge on Ataúro Island

This is a project located in #TimorLeste.

Related SDGs:

  • #SDG1 (No poverty)
  • #SDG2 (Zero hunger)
  • #SDG5 (Gender equality)
  • #SDG6 (Clean water and sanitation)
  • #SDG8 (Decent work and economic growth)
  • #SDG15 (Life on land)

Data collection methods: Field visit, interview

Updated since: August 2016

Case study


Barry’s Place is an ecolodge located on Ataúro Island, Timor Leste. The hotel is a family business, run by Barry and Lina Hinton. This permaculture-based social enterprise has been running for 12 years, and is an important connection hub for all the other social enterprises and NGO-run projects on the island.

Ataúro Island is located 35km away from Dili, the capital of Timor Leste, and is populated by approximately 10,000 inhabitants. Unemployment among the island dwellers is high, with the main work being subsistence farming and fishing. However, of recent years, there is a thriving SSE community on the island, including:

  • Boneca de Ataúro, a women’s co-op which employs about 60 women, manufacturing and selling embroidered dolls, bags and educational toys
  • Biajoia de Ataúro, a hearing-impaired co-op which makes and sells jewelry from local materials
  • Empreza Di’ak, an NGO which works on business development in areas such as agriculture, poultry-farming, fishing, handicrafts, and tourism for the poor, particularly youth and vulnerable women
  • Blue Ventures Conservation, a conservation ecotourism social enterprise, providing volunteer expeditions to generate income for local communities

Barry’s Place is an economic hub on Ataúro. Not only does it only hire local people, it also provides a marketing channel for the other SSE organisations, by giving their information in its website, its guest information book, as well as in the form of travel advice to guests at the reception. As Ataúro does not have many hotels, many tourists come through Barry’s Place when they visit the island. Besides that, Barry’s Place is the connection link between the locals and foreigners who want to implement community projects, in clarifying the needs of the locals and the expectations of the donors.

Philosophy/Values/Traditional knowledge

The owners of Barry’s Place have a strong commitment to ethical tourism and community development. They aim to provide assistance to the community in a way that builds on the richness and strengths of the community’s way of life, without creating a mentality of welfare or aid dependency. The permaculture philosophy adopted also forms a worldview of working with nature, rather than against nature.

Organisational model

Barry’s Place is a business owned by Barry Hinton and his family, and employs about 28 staff. On the website of Barry’s Place, it is stated that the ecolodge is a social enterprise, defined as “a revenue generating business with primary social objectives (human and environmental well-being) whose surpluses are reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to deliver profit to external shareholders and owners”.

Triple Bottomline

Social sustainability:

  • Hiring local people from the island: Out of all the 28 employees of the establishment, all are local; Barry’s Place also provides them work year round, even when it is low season and there is no need for workers.
  • Supporting community projects: A long list of community projects is listed in the website of Barry’s Place: the projects include linking foreign aid to local initiatives, building infrastructure, financial donations for educational and cultural activities, awareness campaigns on issues such as water and permaculture.
  • Supporting women’s activities: The co-owner of Barry’s Place, Lina Hinton, participates actively in the “Feto Atauro” (women of Atauro) initiative which aims to build the capacity and potential of local Atauro women through forming Village (Suco) networks to disseminate information, facilitate training, and liaise with guest speakers and dignitaries. Barry’s Place also organises regular Zumba dance activities to promote women’s health.

Environmental sustainability:

  • Eco-friendly design of hotel: The environmental sustainability of Barry’s Place lies mainly in the design of the ecolodge. Compost toilets and solar panels are installed; the chalets are also built with eco-friendly principles that ensure that they are comfortable to stay in without consuming a lot of energy. Barry’s Place also experiments with permacultural projects such as aquaculture rearing ducks and fish, as well as growing organic vegetables.
  • Raising environmental awareness through leading by example: The eco-friendly building designs such as the compost toilets have been emulated by the villagers on the island.

Economic sustainability:

  • Financially sustainable: Barry’s Place is financially sustainable, with good reviews from tourists who have stayed in their ecolodge. It also caters food for day-trippers and volunteer expeditions that come through the island.
  • The ecolodge has also become an epicentre of economic activity, generating jobs for tuk-tuk drivers, housekeepers, builders, tour guides, fishermen, farmers, kiosk owners, bakers, etc. on the island. Visitors to the lodge also help support the local shops and co-operatives on the island.


The challenges as highlighted during an interview with Barry Hinton, the owner of Barry’s Place, are as follows:

  • Lack of general infrastructure: On the island, there is still a lack of general infrastructure. Waste management is done through bury and burn, and there is a lack of fresh water. Electricity by the grid is available only at certain hours.
  • Low capacity in local workers: It is mentioned that the capacity of the workers is a problem as most of the locals have a lower level of education as well as no background in hospitality services. The decision to hire local also means that training has to be done from ground up.
  • Lack of support by the government: The focus of the government in development is on mega projects, and this does not translate into policy directions that are beneficial for smaller hotels like Barry’s Place. Ataúro is part of the Special Zone of Social Market Economy (ZEESM) of Oecussi Ambeno and Atauro, which translates to a focus on high end transportation options like helipads and five-star hotels. The high level of red tape involved in doing business and paying taxes is also prohibitive to small businesses.
  • Politicking among locals: The tight-knit nature of the Timorese society also translates to jealousy among families and businesses. Although this is the case, the fact that Barry’s family is not entirely local (Barry is Australian and his Timorese wife is from mainland Timor) sometimes work to their favour, as decisions can be made independently without having to succumb to nepotism.


on 7 Sep, 13:50

KIKA Community Agro-Biodiversity Resource and Learning Centre

This is a project located in #TimorLeste.

Related SDGs:

  • #SDG1 (No poverty)
  • #SDG2 (Zero hunger)
  • #SDG3 (Good health and well being)
  • #SDG5 (Gender equality)
  • #SDG8 (Decent work and economic growth)
  • #SDG13 (Climate action)
  • #SDG15 (Life on land)

Location: Manatuto, Timor Leste

Data collection methods: Field visit, interview

Updated since: August 2016


The Centre is a collaborative effort between RAEBIA and a farmers’ co-operative, Ilimanuk. It has been running since 2012. The Centre serves 87 resettled indigenous families to increase their capacity in converting their livelihood from hunting-gathering and collecting fire wood to sustainable agriculture.

The approaches taken by the Centre include reforestation, introducing crop varieties, soil conservation, composting, creating terraces, restoring traditional village regulation of tara bandu (which protects everything that gives life, and is elaborated below). The 2.3 hectares of land that it is on was originally barren, able only to support the growth of eucalyptus trees and grass. This was compounded by the fact that the indigenous people were gathering firewood in an unsustainable way.

Besides their grassroots movement, RAEBIA also works on advocacy in the region and in Portuguese-speaking countries against the big agro companies that push for industry farming practices. They work closely with the government to implement projects from aid funding, and exert influence in what sorts of projects to accept. RAEBIA insists on agroecology and lobbies against farming practices that are unsustainable, including projects with hybrid seeds and chemical input.

Philosophy/Values/Traditional knowledge:

RAEBIA has facilitated more than 10 villages in performing participatory land use planning (PLUP). They help villagers to understand what the land use plan is, and the future plans as well. This information is then put into the village regulations. The tara bandu ceremony then officiates the village regulations. During the inauguration of the village regulations, all power players are invited – including religious and traditional spiritual leaders, as well as government officials, to sign the village regulations so that it would be respected by all. This process enables the community to understand the importance of resources and resource management. The PLUP process takes about 3-4 months, to go to the household level to collect information on land use, and to solicit participation in land use management. Tara bandu is a Timorese tradition, applicable to not only the indigenous people but all Timorese people.

Organisational model:

RAEBIA serves as a facilitator and the farmers are key actors. RAEBIA itself is a registered society, with a board including the founder, the patron, the management, and two farmers. Annually it has a gathering of farmers to provide feedback and comments in what help they would like to get.

Triple Bottomline:

Social sustainability:

  • Food security: the percentage of food that the villagers produce and consume (as opposed to food that they buy) has increased from 20% to 80% within the four years of operation of the Centre.
  • The focus is on family farming, not commercial farming, focusing on self-reliance and empowerment as RAEBIA does not want the farmers to be mere workers.
  • Women is a key thematic area, and RAEBIA makes sure that women’s involvement is there in farming, and food processing.
  • The work of RAEBIA is connected to health, because food and nourishment is intimately connected to health. In terms of health, the co-operative also sets aside money to help its members in health problems.
  • Healthy, strong and united communities are equipped with the knowledge and resilience to combat the effects of a harsh environment and the impacts of climate change.

Environmental sustainability:

  • The techniques taught by RAEBIA follow principles of agroecology (i.e. organic, no GMOs, no chemical pesticides).
  • RAEBIA serves as a seed bank, and a centre for experimentation for cultivation of crops.
  • Through converting land use to sustainable agriculture from hunting and gathering, as well as chopping down of trees for firewood, the environment is conserved.
  • RAEBIA promotes control grazing to minimise livestock impact on the environment.

Economic sustainability:

  • The farmers grow crops, and established the farmers’ co-operative Ilimanuk to process their produce, in order to diversify the economy.
  • Ilimanuk also has their own credit union, and livelihood opportunities for women, such as using sewing machines provided for tailoring, and selling fried fish.


  • Land ownership is a problem in Timor Leste because of its colonial history with the Portuguese and Indonesians leading to a lot of confusion with land titles. NGOs are now fighting for land reform. Even in the case where there are no land titles, the community recognises the land ownership of certain individuals out of inheritances. The 2.3 hectares used by the Center belongs to the King, and RAEBIA has had to negotiate for the usage of the land.
  • Poor farming practices are challenging. Traditional free grazing is still in practice and is not sustainable. Slash and burn is also a problem, although this is not a traditional practice. Farmers are not so confident in their local knowledge of managing the land which does not involve slash and burn.
  • Other environmental challenges include water scarcity and deforestation.
  • There is also a “dependency mentality” of community members.
on 6 Sep, 13:04

Timor Leste Country Overview

Timor Leste Country Overview

The data below provides a quick overview of #TimorLeste.

1 Population
  • 1,231,116 (July 2015 est.)
2 Land area
  • total: 14,874 sq km
  • land: 14,874 sq km
  • water: 0 sq km
3 Capital
  • Dili
4 GDP Per Capita
  • $5,600 (2015 est.)
5 Distribution of family income – Gini index
  • 31.9 (2007 est.)
6 GDP composition, by sector of origin
  • agriculture: 5.9%
  • industry: 77.4%
  • services: 16.8% (2015 est.)
7 Urbanisation
  • urban population: 32.8% of total population (2015)
  • rate of urbanization: 3.75% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
8 Unemployment
  • 11% (2013 est.)
  • Youth unemployment: 14.8% (2010 est.)
9 No. of population below poverty line
  • 37% (2011 est.)
10 Natural resources
  • gold, petroleum, natural gas, manganese, marble
11 Land use
  • agricultural land: 25.1%
  • arable land 10.1%; permanent crops 4.9%; permanent pasture 10.1%
  • forest: 49.1%
  • other: 25.8% (2011 est.)
12 Environmental issues
  • widespread use of slash and burn agriculture has led to deforestation and soil erosion

Background Info

The Portuguese began to trade with the island of Timor in the early 16th century and colonized it in mid-century. Skirmishing with the Dutch in the region eventually resulted in an 1859 treaty in which Portugal ceded the western portion of the island. Imperial Japan occupied Portuguese Timor from 1942 to 1945, but Portugal resumed colonial authority after the Japanese defeat in World War II. East Timor declared itself independent from Portugal on 28 November 1975 and was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces nine days later. It was incorporated into Indonesia in July 1976 as the province of Timor Timur (East Timor). An unsuccessful campaign of pacification followed over the next two decades, during which an estimated 100,000 to 250,000 people died. In an August 1999 UN-supervised popular referendum, an overwhelming majority of the people of Timor-Leste voted for independence from Indonesia. However, in the next three weeks, anti-independence Timorese militias – organized and supported by the Indonesian military – commenced a large-scale, scorched-earth campaign of retribution. The militias killed approximately 1,400 Timorese and forced 300,000 people into western Timor as refugees. Most of the country’s infrastructure, including homes, irrigation systems, water supply systems, and schools, and nearly all of the country’s electrical grid were destroyed. On 20 September 1999, Australian-led peacekeeping troops deployed to the country and brought the violence to an end. On 20 May 2002, Timor-Leste was internationally recognized as an independent state.

In 2006, internal tensions threatened the new nation’s security when a military strike led to violence and a breakdown of law and order. At Dili’s request, an Australian-led International Stabilization Force (ISF) deployed to Timor-Leste, and the UN Security Council established the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), which included an authorized police presence of over 1,600 personnel. The ISF and UNMIT restored stability, allowing for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007 in a largely peaceful atmosphere. In February 2008, a rebel group staged an unsuccessful attack against the president and prime minister. The ringleader was killed in the attack, and most of the rebels surrendered in April 2008. Since the attack, the government has enjoyed one of its longest periods of post-independence stability, including successful 2012 elections for both the parliament and president and a successful transition of power in February 2015. In late 2012, the UN Security Council ended its peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste and both the ISF and UNMIT departed the country.

Note 1: Data in this page is extracted from The World Factbook because of their comprehensiveness covering all countries in the world, for the ease of data comparison. Free usage of this data is permitted, click here for more information.

Note 2: The information above was accessed on August 23, 2016. The country page on The World Factbook for Timor Leste can be accessed here.

Welcome to SDG-SSE!
Sustainable Development Goals + Social and Solidarity Economy

sdg-sse.org is a crowd-sourced platform focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). Find out more.