The Future is Equal

Man and woman outside in Timor-Leste mountains

Helping farmers in rural Timor-Leste earn a decent income.

Country profile:

Timor-Leste is home to about 1.3 million people and is one of the poorest countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Almost half the population lives below the poverty line.

The country became an independent nation in May 2002 following several years of conflict and turmoil. This brought about widespread destruction of the social and economic infrastructure. According to the UNDP Human Development Report, Timor-Leste has the lowest Human Development Index and the highest Human Poverty Index in Asia.

Although it is well-placed to serve the Asian market, there are many hurdles to establishing a thriving business in Timor-Leste, including poor roading and access to banking services. With your help, Oxfam is working to find workarounds to give the poorest people a hand up.

Agriculture dominates the economy, accounting for 25 percent of GDP and approximately 75 percent of employment. Insufficient food production and an under-developed local market have led to a dependency on imports of rice and other commodities. Malnutrition and poor health are widespread and most rural households suffer from food shortages for at least one month of the year. This is known as “the hungry season”.

One of the key issues facing the people of Timor-Leste is a lack of skills in key areas from government planning to community self-determination. Capacity to deliver essential services remains weak and the rebuilding of infrastructure and civil administration remains a huge challenge.

Quick facts from the UNDP Human Development Report and The World Factbook:

  • Capital of Timor-Leste: Dili
  • Population: 1,321,929 (2018)
  • GDP per capita (USD): $6,000 (2017)
  • Human Development Index: 0.625 (2017)
  • Language: Official languages are Portuguese and Tetum
  • Religion: Major religion Roman Catholic
  • Adult Literacy: 58.3% (2017)
  • Life expectancy: 69.2 years (2017)
  • Government: Republic
  • Access to safe water: 71.9% (2015)
  • Access to toilets: 40.6% (2015)
  • Infant mortality rate (per 1000 live births): 42.4 (2017)

Key projects:

PDF icon IMPACT Programme in Timor-Leste.pdf

Oxfam Aotearoa currently supports one project in Timor-Leste.

We’re working to improve farmers’ access to domestic and export markets by working with farmers in two remote regions that lie a day’s drive or ferry ride from the capital Dili. Oxfam supports research into high-value crops, identifying market opportunities for candlenut, mung beans, red beans, shallots and onions. Your support will help to establish and increase production of these crops in Timor-Leste. Farmer groups will be provided with wrap-around support in production, processing and marketing, so they can get the best return.

By supporting Oxfam you will:

  • Provide Timor-Leste’s farmers with expert advice on what to grow, where to sell and how to maximise yields.
  • Help farmers establish “relay cropping ” of mung and red beans to fully utilise their land.
  • Ensure the right processing and storage of products so sellers can get the most for their money.
  • Increase the life-span and nutritional value of their products.
  • Connect farmers with farming and marketing co-operatives to share ideas & knowledge.
  • Place women on business management courses and in management positions, so they have a say in the direction of farming co-operatives.
  • Improve farmers’ understanding of finance.
  • Create neighbourhood savings and loan groups, so that people – especially women – have a place to put their money and withdraw it when they need it.

Surprising things about timor-leste:

Watch the below video from Kathy Richards (Country Director for Oxfam in Timor-Leste) with 6 surprising things about Timor-Leste you might not know.


The latest news:

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