• Over the past decade, Timor-Leste has created the conditions for successful development. It has credibly emerged from a crisis of internal violence and political instability between 2006 and 2007 and has increased tangible services for the population, establishing hard-won political stability and a new confidence in the state. Largely peaceful democratic elections since 2012 reflect these achievements.

    Timor-Leste has achieved tremendous progress since gaining independence in 2002 – drawing down money from the Petroleum Fund and channeling it through the budget to meet pressing needs. The impact is evident in the near-halving of infant and child mortality rates; significant gains in health and education; economic growth in line with regional neighbors; increased citizen participation, and; the gradual strengthening of state institutions.

    Yet immense challenges remain. Ensuring Timor-Leste’s young people are educated, healthy, and productively employed are arguably the biggest development challenges facing Timor-Leste over the next decade. With 60% of the population under 25 years of age, Timor-Leste is one of the youngest countries in the world. Benefitting from high global oil prices, the country achieved lower middle-income status in 2011, yet poverty remains high, particularly in rural areas where the majority of the population lives.

    To create job opportunities for youth, sustain inclusive growth, and prepare for a future of potentially-declining natural resource returns, Timor-Leste needs to diversify its economy and sources of revenue, elevate the quality of health and education services, and equip the population with viable skills. These efforts must be underpinned by capable institutions with a strong and consistent focus on quality of spending and policies that nurture private investment.

    The World Development Report 2011 found that on average, post-conflict countries take between 15 and 30 years – a full generation – to transition out of fragility and to build resilience. It is against this backdrop that Timor-Leste’s social and economic development can be seen as remarkable.

    The Timor-Leste government’s Strategic Development Plan for 2011 – 2030 offers a vision, targets and indicators for the next two decades. It is built around four pillars:

    i.      Social capital: health, education and social protection;

    ii.     Infrastructure: transport, telecommunication, power, and water supply and sanitation;

    iii.     Economic foundations: targeting three sectors for development – agriculture, tourism and petrochemicals – to bring about growth, jobs, and new sources of public revenues beyond oil; and

    iv.      Institutional framework: focusing on macroeconomic management and improving the capacity and effectiveness of government institutions.

    Last Updated: Sep 29, 2017

  • 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 2017 fiscal years. The new Country Partnership Framework will be developed in 2018.

    The 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: Sep 29, 2017

  • Since 2009, 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 is implementing a four-year Community Driven Nutrition Improvement Program in Baucau and Viqueque. The Program aims to improve nutrition practices of households with children in targeted communities.

    Education: Since 2007, the World Bank has worked with the Ministry of Education to rebuild or rehabilitate more than 2,100 classrooms, with all Timor-Leste schoolchildren in grades 1, 2 and 3 now able to access learning materials and classroom furniture.

    Furthermore, 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 1,300 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. This is the third in the series of nationally representative surveys designed to help measure and monitor living standards in Timor-Leste. They do this by collecting information on a broad range of topics including consumption expenditures, health, education, employment, housing and access to services.

    These extensive surveys provide quality data that is used to inform policy makers about poverty in Timor-Leste and helps design policies to reduces extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity.

    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. The key aim of this policy is to ensure that Timor-Leste strengthens its opportunities for business development, while significantly improving access, by all Timor-Leste citizens, to telecommunications services including mobile phone coverage and internet access. 

    Last Updated: Sep 29, 2017


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In Depth


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Have you wondered what the World Bank does with its money? Explore open data about World Bank's financing in Timor-Leste

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