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  • Emerging from decades of conflict, Timor-Leste became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century in May 2002.

    Faced with the task of rebuilding public infrastructure – including roads, ports and airports, water and sanitation systems, government facilities – and institutional frameworks, Timor-Leste has made significant progress in key areas since independence. Meanwhile, fragility remains a challenge as the country contends with legacies of past conflict.

    Today, with a population of 1.3 million people, Timor-Leste is a peaceful, democratic nation. While poverty levels remain high, progress has been made in improving living standards. The proportion of Timorese living in poverty declined from 50% in 2007 to an estimated 42% in 2014.

    The Government of Timor-Leste managed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020, however, a significant rise in cases in early 2021 has underscored the threat to public health that the pandemic poses. With the country under an extended state of emergency, the impact on the economy has been significant, with a contraction of over 7 percent in 2020.

    Investments in human capital are directly linked to Timor-Leste’s future growth, productivity, and competitiveness. In 2020, the Human Capital Index for Timor-Leste stood at 0.45, as compared to the East Asia and the Pacific’s regional average of 0.59. A healthier and more skilled workforce is necessary to better meet future labor demands across the economy. 

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

    Encouraging private sector-led growth in the economy will be vital for job creation. In a young country with a fast-changing political and social landscape, there is also a need to focus on improving institutions that create the enabling environment for good policy-making, economic prosperity, and inclusion.

    Last Updated: Apr 07, 2021

  • In November 2019, the World Bank Group approved the Country Partnership Framework for Timor-Leste. This strategy, developed in consultation with various stakeholders following the publication of the first Systematic Country Diagnostic report in late 2018, guides the World Bank Group’s program between the 2020 and 2024 fiscal years.

    The Framework aims to support the government of Timor-Leste to transform its natural wealth into improved human capital and sustainable infrastructure in three key focus areas:

    1. Strengthening the foundation for private sector-led growth and economic stability

    ·        Establish rules-based macroeconomic management and fortifying governance through reforms in public financial management

    ·        Enhance the conditions for private investment and promote financial inclusion

    ·        Promote economic diversification through agribusiness and tourism development

    2. Investing in human capital and service delivery

    ·        Strengthen human capital and promote gender equality

    3. Raising productivity through investments in connective infrastructure

    ·        Improve access and quality of connective infrastructure in digital and transport sectors

    The World Bank Group is working closely with Timor-Leste to develop long-term solutions to protect and invest in people during and after the pandemic:

    Last Updated: Apr 08, 2021

  • Since 1999, the World Bank has assisted 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:

    Emergency Support to Boost the COVID-19 Response: The Timor-Leste COVID-19 Emergency Support Project is improving the Government’s surveillance capacity by training health personnel, strengthening supervision, and facilitating the equitable distribution of essential supplies and commodities to health facilities. It has purchased 11 ambulances to provide safe transportation of COVID-19 cases and other patients in need in underserved areas of the country.

    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 Timor-Leste Road Climate Resilience Project is 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.

    80% of the road is complete, providing a transport corridor road more resilient to weather events and landslides. Work is underway on the final section of the road, with local farmers and coffee growers benefiting from better access to markets.

    Similarly, the Branch Roads project aims to rehabilitate a 44.3-kilometer-long road corridor from Gleno to Hatubuilico, linking key farming and tourist destinations to the capital, Dili.

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

    This project is training community members from 26 villages in disaster risk management and helping them prepare comprehensive village-level disaster management plans – supported by small–scale construction and agriculture projects for disaster risk reduction.

    Nutrition: Working with local partners, the World Bank has completed the implementation of 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, 5,000 mothers and their children have benefited from the program.

    Education: Thousands of young people in Timor-Leste miss out on completing their education due to conflict. Through the World Bank-funded Second-Chance Education Project, more than 1,600 youth have now completed recognized school equivalency programs.

    In addition, to empower communities and support their learning needs, the project supported the creation of nine community learning centers in eight districts across Timor-Leste. The World Bank has also helped the government develop materials for teacher training on 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. Through this support, the government of Timor-Leste has established a 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’s Sustainable Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project aims 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 households in four watersheds, reaching approximately 85,000 direct beneficiaries. The project will also indirectly benefit a larger number of households, by supporting watershed-wide and community-level agricultural development planning.

    Economic monitoring: The Timor-Leste Economic Report  is a six-monthly publication that highlights the latest economic trends and emerging policy challenges in the country. The report draws on ongoing economic monitoring and analysis undertaken by the World Bank with a view to support evidence-based policymaking.

    Last Updated: Apr 07, 2021


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In Depth

Timor-Leste Economic Reports

Download our bi-annual report on the Timor-Leste economy and keep up to date with the latest economic indicators

What’s Possible in Timor-Leste?

We hit the streets of Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, to ask people what’s possible in one of the youngest nation in the world.

Project Map

Take a closer look on where our projects are located in Timor-Leste

Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Palm Business & Trade Center
Dili, Timor-Leste
+670 332-4649
Washington, +1 202-473-4709
1818 H Street NW, Washington, DC 20433