Timor-Leste: Connecting People through Climate-Resilient Roads

May 12, 2016


A project is now underway to significantly improve travel conditions and accessibility on one of Timor-Leste’s most critical roads, the Dili-Ainaro Road, which is the main road connecting the north and the south of the country. The road serves as a key link between three districts – Dili, Aileu and Ainaro – which jointly account for 32% of country’s population.


Extremely poor road conditions and frequent landslides means it is often impossible to travel along the Dili-Ainaro road, particularly during Timor-Leste’s rainy season. This is not only caused by the effects of the weather, but also by a lack of maintenance and poor design, with many roads lacking drainage infrastructure and strong foundations. As a result of these road conditions, communities are becoming increasingly isolated, vehicle operating and freight costs are increasing, and journey times continue to impact on livelihoods and key services such as health and education.


The project is improving travel conditions and accessibility along the Dili-Ainaro road by developing climate resilient infrastructure and maintaining it. The work will reduce the impact of heavy rains and other climate-related damage on the road corridor. The physical works include:

  • slope stabilization, including construction or reinforcement of structures and bioengineering;
  • improvement of drainage structures to meet forecast rainfall volumes and intensities;
  • pavement repairs.


The project was initiated in 2011 and work on the road is on-going. As of April 2016, 30% of the drainage work is now completed, slopes have been protected at more than 150 locations along the project corridor, and almost 20% of the road’s pavement has been improved.

The project has also supported the Government of Timor-Leste to develop a compensation payment system for construction-affected communities anywhere that will be used for future similar-scale infrastructure projects in Timor-Leste.



Beatrix Prego (pictured) is a coffee farmer. Due to the poor road conditions, vehicles find it difficult to reach her place so she has to walk to bring her crops to the market.

" If the road condition was better, we could use vehicles to load the coffee and sell it to the coffee company. "

Beatrix Prego

Coffee farmer

Bank Group Contribution

The project was initially funded under a grant from the International Development Association (IDA) in the amount of US$20 million. Additional financing of $40m from the World Bank's IDA ($25m) and IBRD ($15m) was approved in October 2013. The Government of Timor-Leste will fund $52m for the project.


The project is implemented by the Timor-Leste Ministry of Public Works. The World Bank-financed project supports the core network development program by investing in the key north-south corridor: Dili-Ainaro. Other development agencies are also rehabilitating national, district and rural roads. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is financing investments in the north of the country to the west of Dili, JICA is proposing investments east from Dili to Baucau, and the European Union has investments in rural and district roads currently under implementation.

Moving Forward

The additional financing, together with the original IDA grant, is being used for construction work to provide asphalt pavement, improve drainage, and stabilize slope structures along the Dili-Ainaro corridor. Making road sections more climate resilient will reduce the number of emergency incidents and the overall cost of keeping the road in good condition through the year. The funding also supports feasibility studies and detailed designs for possible future road improvements associated with the road corridor.