Ten Years On: Infant and Child Mortality Dramatically Reduced as Education, Life Expectancy, Average Incomes and Economic Growth All See Major Improvements
DILI, May 20th, 2012— Today the World Bank congratulates the Government and people of Timor-Leste for progress achieved over the last decade, as the country celebrates the tenth anniversary of its Restoration of Independence.
Ten years ago, Timor-Leste looked very different. Torn apart by conflict, infrastructure was devastated; there was no water or electricity; homes had been burnt to the ground and government institutions had to be rebuilt. More than one in ten children were dying before they reached their fifth birthday and over ninety-five percent of schools and eighty percent of health centers had been destroyed. The country was faced with the task of rebuilding from the ground-up.
Significant gains have been made in the last decade. The tragic death of children under five and babies has been almost halved. Timorese people are now living, on average, five years longer, and the average income has increased almost seven-fold. More people have access to hospitals and health care visits have doubled; access to basic sanitation has doubled, and there has been a significant increase in access to safe drinking water. Hundreds of schools have been built, literacy has increased by more than fifty percent and drop-out rates have dramatically decreased. Backed by strong petroleum exports, the country is growing rapidly – averaging 12 percent growth per year over the last five years - and is expected to maintain strong growth in the years to come. The World Bank has supported the Government and people of Timor-Leste on their path from fragility to development and will continue to do so.
“What Timor-Leste has achieved in ten years since independence is impressive and unique for a fragile state” said Luis Constantino, the World Bank Country Manager for Timor-Leste. “Infant mortality rates have been dramatically reduced; we have seen important gains in health and education; strong economic growth, increasing citizen participation and the gradual strengthening of institutions”
World Bank research shows that it takes between fifteen to thirty years for countries to rebuild after conflict. This bears testimony to the enormous progress the country has made but also illustrates that the path to recovery is ongoing, as the country focuses on securing lasting development for its population. Timor-Leste has displayed an exemplary role to many other countries around the world through its leadership in the "g7+", an international forum for post-conflict and fragile states. It was also the third country in the world, and the first in the Asia-Pacific, to achieve compliance with the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), to push for more transparency and accountability on its oil revenues.