• Emerging from decades of conflict, Timor-Leste became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century in May 2002. All public infrastructure including roads, ports and airports, water and sanitation systems, and government facilities were either non-existent, destroyed or severely dilapidated. There were also severe shortages of human capital; few Timorese had government experience or were equipped with adequate skills for professional services or business, and the general level of formal education of the population was very low. Timor-Leste’s institutional frameworks were also exceptionally weak, with the country having undergone a series of markedly different institutional regimes in recent times. Extreme poverty and hunger were widespread and conflict and violence were ongoing threats.

    Today, Timor-Leste is a more peaceful, democratic nation and while poverty levels remain very high, considerable progress has been made in improving living standards. The proportion of Timorese living in poverty declined from 50.4% in 2007 to an estimated 41.8% in 2014. At the internationally comparable extreme poverty line of $1.90 (in 2011 purchasing power parity dollars), poverty in Timor-Leste fell from 47.2% to 30.3% over the same period.

    While Timor-Leste has succeeded in saving the proceeds of its natural resource endowment, the key challenges now are how to increase the productivity and effectiveness of government spending, and to ensure the natural environment is preserved as an important economic and social resource for future generations.

    In a young country with a fast-changing political and social landscape, there is a need to focus on improving institutions that create the enabling environment for good policy-making, economic prosperity and inclusivity.

    Last Updated: Apr 08, 2019

  • Strategy

    In February 2013, the World Bank Group approved its first Country Partnership Strategy for Timor-Leste. This strategy, developed in consultation with various stakeholders, guides the World Bank Group’s program between the 2013 and 2018 fiscal years.

    The new Country Partnership Framework (2019-2023) is currently being developed, following the publication of the first Systematic Country Diagnostic report in late 2018.

    The current Country Partnership Strategy is aligned with the government’s own Strategic Development Plan, and is structured around three areas and one cross-cutting theme:

    1.      Improving the management and delivery of services in education, health and nutrition, and social protection. The World Bank Group will help build the capacity of the government to deliver services to create an educated, healthy, employable and less vulnerable population. In particular, the Bank will focus on supporting decentralized service delivery in health and education and improving the targeting and impact of social protection programs.

    2.      Building core infrastructure to connect communities to markets. This strategic area will develop core infrastructure to improve access to services, employment and markets, and to facilitate efficient and reduced-cost movement of people and goods. Support in this area will include lending, technical assistance, as well as investment and advisory services, and will set the stage for public-private partnerships for major infrastructure.

    3.      Supporting economic development for a non-oil economy. The World Bank Group will assist Timor-Leste to build the foundations for a non-oil economy that can eradicate poverty, create jobs, and improve livelihoods. It will emphasize development of a productive agriculture sector and support private investment and reduced transaction costs for business, including tourism. This work also focuses on districts that are crossed by Timor-Leste’s road corridors to maximize the economic impact of road improvements, demonstrating a more integrated path for rural development.

    4.      Strengthening institutions for quality of spending. This cross-cutting theme will focus on strengthening institutions to improve the quality of spending, both across government and in the specific sectors addressed by the Country Partnership Strategy. All activities in the strategy will contribute, directly or indirectly, to improving the quality of spending of government ministries. Through improvements in institutional capacity, the World Bank will support the government to efficiently execute its substantial capital investment, improve the quality of planning through better use of data, and strengthen systems to prepare for budget support in subsequent Country Partnership Strategy periods.

    Last Updated: Apr 08, 2019

  • Since 1999, the World Bank has been assisting the Government of Timor-Leste to rebuild national infrastructure, stabilize the economy and strengthen government institutions. Some of the achievements from the Bank’s continued support include:

    Climate resilient infrastructure: Poor road conditions mean that for many people in Timor-Leste, travel by road can be time consuming, uncomfortable, unsafe and expensive. Without reliable access to roads, people cannot reach schools, hospitals or markets when they need to.

    The World Bank’s Dili to Ainaro Road rehabilitation project is currently restoring a vital 110 kilometers of road corridor, improving access from the North to the South of the island and connecting the districts of Dili, Aileu and Ainaro, which jointly account for a third of the country’s population.

    Section 1 of the road is now complete, providing a transport corridor road more resilient to weather events and landslides. Work is  well underway in other sections of the road, with local farmers and coffee growers benefiting from better access to markets.

    Disaster risk management: The World Bank is helping communities along the Dili-Ainaro Road, one of Timor-Leste’s most vital mountain highways, reduce the impacts of natural disasters – in particular recurring landslides and consequent road closures – through the Community-Based Disaster Risk Management Project.

    This project is training community members from 26 villages in disaster risk management, with comprehensive village-level disaster management plans being prepared, supported by small–scale construction and agriculture projects that aim to reduce disaster risks.

    Nutrition: Working with local partners, the World Bank has completed implementing the four-year Community Driven Nutrition Improvement Program in Baucau and Viqueque. The Program has improved nutrition practices for households with children in over 300 villages. Overall 4,500 children and 5,000 mothers have benefited from the program.


    With many thousands of young people missing out on completing their education due to Timor-Leste’s long and brutal conflict, through the World Bank-funded Second-Chance Education Project, more than 1,600 young people have now completed recognized school equivalency programs.

    In addition, to empower communities and support their learning needs, the project also supported the creation of nine Community Learning Centers in eight districts across Timor-Leste. The World Bank has also supported the government to develop materials for teacher training for early childhood development and in conducting early grade reading assessments, a key tool for designing an appropriate curriculum for Timor-Leste.

    Tackling poverty: The World Bank assisted Timor-Leste’s Directorate General Statistics to design and implement the 2014 Timor-Leste Living Standard Survey. The Gender-Sensitive Insight of Poverty Mapping for Timor-Leste is a new set of poverty statistics that will enable governments, civil society and development partners to pinpoint areas where development outcomes are lagging.

    Telecommunications: The World Bank has strengthened the institutional and technical capacity of the Information Communications & Telecommunications (ICT) Unit in the Prime Minister’s Office in relation to policy development, implementation oversight and evaluation, as well as the capacity that the government needs to oversee Timor-Leste’s newly-liberalized telecommunications sector. Through this support, the government of Timor-Leste requested assistance to establish an ICT policy that addresses all aspects of ICT in Timor-Leste society, including telecommunications, broadcasting and convergent services and their appropriate regulation. 

    Agriculture: The World Bank is supporting Government with the Sustainable Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project to increase the productivity and marketed production of smallholder agriculture in selected geographical locations in Timor-Leste.

    Through this support the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will directly assist at least 16,500 rural farm households in four watersheds, reaching approximately 85,000 direct beneficiaries. The project will also indirectly benefit a larger number of households, by supporting watershed and community-level agricultural development planning that will benefit all households in a watershed

    Economic monitoring: The Timor-Leste economic report is a six-monthly publication that highlights recent economic trends and emerging policy challenges in the country. The reports draw on ongoing economic monitoring and analysis undertaken by the World Bank team with a view to supporting evidence-based policy making.


    Last Updated: Apr 08, 2019


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In Depth


Timor-Leste Economic Reports

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What’s Possible in Timor-Leste?

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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Dili, +670 3312367
Avenida Marginal Dili, Timor-Leste
Washington, +1 202-473-4709
1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20433