East Timor faces bright future on 10th anniversary
18 May, 2012
Children love visiting the new library in Gleno, Ermera district. AusAID contributed funds to build the library through our small grants program, the East Timor Community Assistance Scheme.
Photo: Joao Vas/AusAID
East Timor will celebrate its 10th anniversary of formal independence on 20 May 2012.
Like all countries emerging from conflict and fragility, East Timor has faced significant challenges. Following the independence ballot in 1999, more than two thirds of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed, health and education services collapsed, and the country was left with very few experienced or qualified people. The road to recovery has been difficult—people in fragile and conflict-affected states are more than twice as likely to be under-nourished as those in other developing countries, more than three times as likely to be unable to send their children to school, and twice as likely to see their children die before age five1.
In this context, East Timor has made good progress and has a lot to be proud of —it has for example achieved its Millennium Development Goal targets for infant and under-five mortality rates, and for antenatal care coverage2, despite having one of the highest birth rates in the region. The increasing stability and solid economic growth of the last few years have put East Timor in a good position to build on these gains.
Australia has been East Timor’s largest development partner over the last decade, and is working closely with the Government of East Timor to reduce poverty by helping to increase access to health services and education, boosting agricultural productivity, and improving rural infrastructure such as roads and water and sanitation systems.
East Timor still faces many problems—poverty and malnutrition are widespread, maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the region, and there are few jobs for a growing population. But across the country, there are signs that life is changing for the better for many East Timorese people, and Australian aid is helping to make a difference.
Julia Martins do Ceo is raising two healthy children in Hatolia Leten village. Julia and her family have benefited from the mobile health clinics that visit her village each month, providing essential services such as antenatal care, child immunisation and growth monitoring, and practical advice on nutrition and family planning. These clinics are an initiative of the Government of East Timor, supported by Australia as part of our commitment to increasing access to health care for mothers and children in East Timor.
Read more about the mobile health clinics
Supporting sustainable economic development
Olivia de Jesus is part of a group of men and women who have set up a successful dried fish business in the village of Kamalehoru. The business was set up with support from the Youth Employment Promotion Program, jointly funded by the governments of Australia and East Timor. The program has enabled about 5000 men and women to participate in skills training to increase their job prospects, and has provided short-term job opportunities in road maintenance for 78,000 people since 2008.
Read more about the Youth Employment Promotion Program
Promoting opportunities for all
Joel Morais Fernandes and Silvia Antonia de Soares work for a disabled people’s organisation called Ra’Es Hadomi Timor Oan. Joel and Silvia are advocating for people with disabilities to have better opportunities to go to school or get a job. Australia is committed to empowering people with disabilities to play an active role in society, and is supporting the efforts of Ra’Es Hadomi Timor Oan through our volunteer program.
Read more about Australia's support for people with disabilities in East Timor
1 World Bank World Development Report 2011 (external website)
2 Timor-Leste Human Development Report 2011, United Nations Development Program (external website, PDF 3.2mb)
Last Reviewed: 18 May, 2012