Timor-Leste is a small country home to 1.29 million people on the eastern part of the island of Timor, shared with Indonesia. After 400 years under Portuguese rule, the country gained independence in 1975, only to be invaded by Indonesia nine days later. Over 150,000 Timorese died during 24 years of Indonesian occupation until a U.N.-backed referendum in 1999 led to independence in 2002. Fifteen years later, the United Nations missions have ended and the country is aiming to stand on its own two feet. These are five development projects in Timor-Leste:
- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Avansa Agrikultura (Forward Agriculture) project: Partnering with businesses in the private sector and with three government ministries including the Agriculture Ministry, USAID is promoting climate-friendly agricultural practices to increase food production and income in five municipalities across the country, including the capital. The $19.2 million project supports women’s empowerment and agricultural development projects in Timor-Leste, seeking to improve nutrition in Dili and beyond.
- The World Bank’s Sustainable Agricultural Productivity Improvement project: The World Bank’s agricultural project targets smallholders in Timor-Leste’s agricultural industry, encouraging the formation of community-based development plans. The World Bank is committing $21 million to development projects in Timor-Leste in partnership with the Agriculture Ministry to promote sustainable technologies in watershed agriculture.
- The World Bank’s Road Climate Resilience project: Coffee is one of Timor-Leste’s most well-known and important exports, popularizing the country’s name overseas and supporting development projects in Timor-Leste itself. As climate change begins to threaten small island nations, the World Bank is investing $20 million in a project to build climate-resilient roads and infrastructure in Timor-Leste’s coffee-producing regions, including in the corridor between Dili and the southwestern town of Ainaro.
- The Asian Development Bank’s Technical Assistance Special Fund: Through its Technical Assistance Special Fund, the Asian Development Bank is providing grants to help Timorese youth enter the country’s lucrative coffee industry. A $225,000 grant from the fund will contribute to a plan to develop the country’s coffee industry and create more jobs for local youth, collaborating with the Agriculture Ministry and the Timor-Leste Coffee Association to establish development projects in Timor-Leste.
- The World Bank’s Community Empowerment and Local Governance Project: Beyond agriculture, the backbone of the Timorese economy, foreign donors have been supporting development projects in Timor-Leste that seek to improve local governance and institutions. Between 2002 and 2005, in the first years of Timor-Leste’s independence, the World Bank committed $23 million to build responsive institutions that helped reduce poverty and support current initiatives for sustainable growth and economic development.
With these five development projects in Timor-Leste, the nation will be closer to a sustained and shared prosperity for all its people.
– Giacomo Tognini