After almost 25 years of violent occupation and historical underdevelopment, Timor-Leste regained independence in 2002. Since then, Timor-Leste has made tremendous progress, including rebuilding and expanding critical infrastructure, expanding access to education, nearly eradicating malaria, and conducting several free and fair elections leading to peaceful transitions of power.

Despite these achievements, Timor-Leste still struggles with extreme rates of malnutrition and poor health outcomes, high rates of poverty, pervasive gender-based violence, an underdeveloped economy overly dependent on oil, persistent political instability, inefficient government spending, and weak institutional checks on power. With relatively modest investments, USAID is laying the foundations to ensure that all Timorese people, particularly women and youth, are able to reap the benefits of a nascent private sector and improved governance.


USAID builds resilience by helping Timor-Leste strengthen its democratic institutions, expand inclusive economic growth and private-sector competitiveness, and improve the health system’s ability to provide quality services for all Timorese. These measures support USAID’s goal of an inclusive, prosperous, and healthy Timor-Leste.


USAID promotes good governance by strengthening institutional effectiveness and increasing citizen participation. USAID assistance has supported Timor-Leste’s ability to hold free and fair elections since its independence, including the most recent 2022 presidential election and runoff. USAID strengthens the ability of non-governmental organizations to advocate on behalf of the public for transparent and responsive governance. USAID’s work includes promoting gender equality and addressing high rates of gender-based violence. USAID also supports the Government of Timor-Leste (GOTL) to institutionalize a well-governed and modern trade system that is professional, transparent, and complies with international standards.


USAID builds an inclusive and sustainable economy by expanding economic opportunities for women and youth, strengthening the private sector in key growth sectors, and bolstering the enabling environment for private sector growth. With USAID assistance, Timor-Leste’s tourism sector is expanding, farmer productivity is increasing, digital infrastructure and policy is forged, and natural resource management is improving with private sector-led recycled plastic market initiatives. Thanks in part to USAID’s introduction of modern technology and farming techniques, farmers’ monthly incomes in target areas rose by 1,100 percent from $235 to $2,661 from 2015 to 2020.


USAID advances Timor-Leste’s resilience by strengthening the GOTL’s ability to manage, finance, and deliver high-quality, affordable essential health services while being responsive and accountable to users and an engaged civil society. Since 2020, USAID supports Timor-Leste’s efforts to save lives and end the COVID-19 pandemic, including the delivery of over 200,000 U.S.-donated vaccines. Additionally, USAID has managed more than $4 million in supplemental COVID-19 funds to support vaccine campaigns, train health workers, prepare laboratory systems, and support risk communication. Finally, USAID, in collaboration with the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, upgraded quarantine facilities and increased intensive care unit capacity in Timor-Leste by 150 percent.