Timor-Leste (East Timor)

Zelia Cardoso, a candlenut producer and savings group member from Fatuloro, high in the hills above Suai, Timor-Leste. Through the help of an Oxfam-partner the village now produce 40 tonnes of candlenuts which they hand process and sell over the border to Indonesia. Credit: Kate Bensen/OxfamAUS

Timor-Leste is the newest country in Asia. A small nation with a young population, this country’s future could be bright – if the challenges of inequality, rural poverty and vulnerability to climate change can be overcome.

Timor-Leste is largely an agricultural nation with 75 per cent of its people living in rural areas and reliant on small-scale, subsistence farming for their food and income. Land is largely governed by customary mechanisms and is fundamental to social identity and local worldview. At the national level, while natural oil and gas resources are growing the nation’s economy, the benefits do not always reach where it is most needed.

Inequality is most prevalent between rural and urban areas. Many families grow just enough corn, soy beans, fruit or rice to feed themselves, with limited surplus for markets. Deforestation has led to erosion, and climate change is resulting in high temperatures, longer dry seasons and more severe rainfalls in the wet season. Malnutrition and poor health are widespread and most households suffer from food shortages at least one month of the year.

We focus on Timor-Leste’s need for rural development to address the issue of poverty and the inequality between rural and urban areas.

Oxfam in Timor-Leste

For over 40 years during times of crisis, recovery and change, Oxfam has supported the people of Timor-Leste in their journey towards a more prosperous and equal Timor-Leste.

Active Citizenship

We work with over 20 partners in Timor-Leste to improve the well-being of rural women and men by promoting active citizenship. This is achieved through the strengthening of civil society. We support partners to be part of government consultations and processes, to ensure national policies and practices help poor populations.

Sustainable Livelihoods

We work with women and men in rural communities across Timor-Leste to adapt their farming techniques to improve their yields of crops, and be better prepared for agriculture in times of disasters brought about by climate change. We help farmers to get their surplus produce to market and increase their incomes. Oxfam’s Savings for Change groups helps women and men to save money, access finance and plan for their futures.

Land Inclusive Development

We advocate for development processes that provide services and opportunities in a way that lowers inequality, and respect the rights of the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable people of Timor-Leste.

Disaster Risk Reduction

Communities across Timor-Leste are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. We are working with our partners to be ready to respond to disasters such as flooding, drought or landslides. When disasters occur, we will ensure vulnerable communities receive timely, appropriate and quality humanitarian assistance.