Flag of Timor-Leste

Project Descriptions

Language: English | Tetun

Speeches Shim

Decimated by 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, improving educational attainment, eradicating malaria, maintaining a sovereign wealth fund valued at $15.8 billion, 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, a stagnant economy highly dependent on oil, persistent political instability, inefficient government spending, and weak institutional checks on power. With relatively modest investments, USAID will lay the foundations to ensure that all Timorese, particularly the most vulnerable, are able to reap the benefits of a nascent private sector and better governed Timor-Leste.


With nascent democratic and legal structures in place and nearly one third of the population living in extreme poverty, Timor-Leste faces daunting development challenges.  USAID focuses on building self-reliance by investing in Timor-Leste’s local capacity to strengthen its democratic institutions, expand inclusive economic growth and private-sector competitiveness, and improve health services for all Timorese.  An inclusive, prosperous, and healthy Timor-Leste that is more self-reliant.  USAID’s focus on increasing the capacity to deliver responsive services at the country’s national and sub-national levels improves the quality of governance.


USAID helps build an inclusive, sustainable economy by promoting community-based tourism, boosting farmer productivity, improving the environment for digital infrastructure, and addressing natural resource management though development of a market for recycled plastic products.  Thanks in part to USAID’s introduction of modern technology and farming techniques, farmers’ incomes rose by 1,100 percent from $235 to $2,661 per month from 2015 to 2020.  Over 7,000 youth have participated in project activities, and over 32,000 individuals have transitioned from subsistence farming to commercial farming.


Despite remarkable progress, Timor-Leste’s maternal and under-five mortality rates remain the highest in Southeast Asia. To help save lives, USAID works to expand access to high-quality health services for all Timorese–especially women and children–encouraging best health practices and quality reproductive health care. USAID efforts helped boost the percentage of women who delivered their babies in a health facility from 38 percent in 2016 to 62 percent in 2020.  To sustain these successes, USAID will expand assistance to health systems strengthening and health governance by increasing human capacity within the sector.

Still-fragile institutions pose major obstacles as Timor-Leste works to forge a resilient and representative democracy. USAID promotes good governance by strengthening institutional effectiveness and increasing citizen participation. With USAID assistance, Timor-Leste held peaceful elections in 2017 and 2018 without international supervision, customs reform is underway, and parliamentarians are learning best practices to effectively represent their constituents. High quality non-governmental organizations can help hold the government accountable through transparency and responsiveness to the public interest, while supporting sound, just, and responsive governance.

Last updated: August 02, 2021

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