Peace Dividend Trust

Buy Local With SMS: Connecting Suppliers with Humanitarian Operations in East Timor and Afghanistan

Posted by saritamoreira on Oct 21, 2009

East Timor is studded with international organizations that are focusing on the country’s reconstruction and development. East Timor’s two-decade-long independence struggle against Indonesia  resulted in the country’s independence in 1999.  However, after that independence referendum, Indonesian militias destroyed 80% of the infrastructure from which the country is still recovering today.

Thousand of international aid workers move to the country every year but one must wonder how much they consume locally. It is not uncommon when visiting a foreigner’s house in Dili to find furniture made by big international chains, or a refrigerator full of food from Australia, Argentina and the US. Meanwhile, 49% of the Timorese citizens live on 80 cents a day.  It is possible to connect the markets – supply and demand – better?  Are there technologies, such as SMS, that can be used to connect local producers with this market?