The district of Ainaro is located to the south-west of Timor-Leste, with the Timor Sea marking its southern border. Home to Timor-Leste’s highest peak, Mount Ramelau, Ainaro is comprised of spectacular mountain ranges and savannah-like lowlands. The region is diverse and fertile, with its high mountain areas constituting Timor-Leste’s water tower (

As in most areas in Timor-Leste, 95% of Ainaro's 12,000 people are involved in subsistence agriculture. Good quality fruit, vegetables, coffee, beans, maize, cassava and sandalwood are also produced for the domestic market. Education, youth engagement and development, employment, water and sanitation, health and infrastructure remain key areas for development in the district. Ainaro is home to four indigenous languages and the people of Ainaro are proud practitioners of their cultural traditions. However, many of these traditions are now under threat as a result of socio-economic pressures.

In August 2010, MHI undertook a project in partnership with Deakin University (Australia)  to investigate the potential for arts, economic development and educational research projects in the district of Ainaro.  A result of this project was the development of the Supporting Livelihoods, Skills Development and Education through Traditional Music Project. This project brings together master craftsmen of traditional musical instruments, young men as the masters' apprentices, schools and local community groups from across Ainaro to learn how to make, use and market traditional musical instruments.

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