Our Story

The Nusa Tenggara Association (NTA) was founded in 1988 by a group of Australian and Indonesian researchers who had visited the eastern province of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) while assessing the economic potential of remote regions of Indonesia. Saddened by the poor living conditions and meagre economic opportunities for local people, the group formed NTA as a means to provide some assistance.

For the first few years, the group spent time walking around poor areas of NTT, staying with farm families and learning about their conditions. It also studied the activities of Indonesian NGOs, notably Dian Desa which specialised in water supplies, and Ie Rae which specialised in seaweed cultivation. Then in 1992, NTA started projects of its own, beginning with a project to grow seaweed on offshore rafts, and installing fences to control wandering livestock.

Led by Dr Colin Barlow, an agricultural economist from the Australian National University, NTA gradually built links with local and provincial governments and began raising funds so it could implement its own development projects. NTA’s philosophy has always been to provide small-scale funding to grassroots activities which can be led by the local community and will make tangible improvements to qualities of life. This gradual but sustainable approach in targeted communities on the islands of West Timor and Flores in NTT has seen local leaders take ownership of implementation, while beneficiaries are proud of outcomes.

For more than 30 years, NTA has been led by the indefatigable Colin and his wife Ria Gondowarsito. Today, a team of 26 paid staff operate in West Timor and Flores, including fourteen staff from NTA Indonesia and twelve staff from partner NGOs working full-time on NTA activities (see below). There are two Australian paid staff, as well some forty Indonesian and eighty Australian volunteers. NTA runs three separate programs: income generation and food security; water and sanitation; and education. The programs are organised through family farming cooperatives or kelompok, each made up of ten to fifteen families, as well as through local schools and kindergartens. All three programs rely on donations of funding, time and materials from volunteers and sponsors. In turn, NTA is able to provide target communities with small cash grants, training and technical advice to achieve their project goals.

NTA is partly funded through generous support from Australian Aid, especially the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) in Canberra and the Development Assistance Program (DAP) of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. It also receives strong assistance from community organisations in Australia, including Rotary Clubs and Australia-Indonesia Associations. The Indonesian government also provides substantial help through seconding two scientific officers and four extension officers to support NTA’s work.

NTA is committed to providing a safe, healthy, diverse and respectful working environment for all of our employees and communities we work with. NTA has a zero tolerance approach towards child exploitation or abuse, sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment as well as fraud/corruption - as stated in our Human Resources Policy.