Building the ADB—Timor-Leste Partnership | Asian Development Bank

Building the ADB—Timor-Leste Partnership

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Video | 8 February 2018

ADB has been by Timor-Leste’s side since the 1999 independence referendum, providing assistance of more than $380 million in 15 years.

ADB has provided finance and capacity development for investment projects that have had a major impact on the country's economic growth, as well as technical assistance in support of a range of reforms and Timor-Leste's accession process to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). 

ADB is committed to the future development of Timor-Leste, bringing knowledge, new solutions, and a wealth of experience, as the country continues to build its infrastructure and invest in its young population.


Dili, Timor-Leste  Asia’s youngest country, Timor-Leste is building a resilient, inclusive economy.

Petroleum wealth is being invested to develop critical infrastructure, while human capital is being nurtured through education and training.

ADB has been by Timor-Leste’s side since the 1999 independence referendum, providing assistance of more than $380 million in 15 years.

Investments have already delivered remarkable results.

Child and infant mortality was halved between 2001 and 2009, while extreme poverty was also greatly reduced.

ADB is Timor-Leste’s lead development partner for infrastructure development.

More than 126 km of national roads have been upgraded with ADB’s support.

By 2021, a further 238 km of district and national roads will be upgraded.

“Things are better now. When the road conditions were bad, it used to take us three to four hours to get to the border. Now, it takes only two and a half hours,” says Vincent Cu Mi Adi, owner of Paradise Travel, Dili.

“Besides, car maintenance is so much easier. Cars used to break down often.”

ADB supports Timor-Leste’s plan to provide universal access to clean water by 2030.

More than 4,300 households already have reliable water supply thanks to work financed by ADB.

We no longer need to worry about water,” comments Joana Maria de Jesus Soares, housewife, Manatutu.

“Each household now has its own faucet. The water now is enough for our daily needs. We also use it to water flowers and grow vegetables in our gardens.”

ADB helped to launch the country’s first locally-owned commercial bank.

The National Commercial Bank of Timor-Leste provides loans to individuals and businesses.

Access to finance has boosted local entrepreneurship, helping diversify the economy.

“We have plans to expand our business but it all depends on the state bank. I wish I could get more credit,” comments Carlota da Silva, who owns a small kiosk in Liquica.

I recently asked for a loan of $20,000 but I only received $15,000. If I could get a larger loan I could make my kiosk bigger. Without a loan we will not be able to expand much as everything is so expensive now.

A skilled workforce in the construction and automotive sectors is being formed.

I wanted to become a mechanic because I have always enjoyed fixing cars and I wanted to show the world that women can be mechanics, Arcelia Faroca Fernandes, car mechanic supervisor, Dili.

I wanted to change people’s perceptions that only men can be mechanics.”

Coffee is grown by 25% of all households and is the country’s largest non-oil export.

ADB is helping farmers to increase production and improve quality.

Young people are being encouraged to help drive changes in the industry.

Coffee harvest begins in May, June and ends in August,” says Emidio Da Costa Alves, a coffee farmer, Gleno.

“For arabica, however, harvest begins earlier in April.”

Since independence, Timor-Leste has built key institutions and improved social services.

But much remains to be done to socio-economic impact.

“ADB believes in the benefits from partnering together, so we think that what ADB can bring is not just finance, as I mentioned the government has petroleum found resources has its own revenues,” comments Paolo Spantigati, Country Director of ADB’s Timor-Leste Resident Mission.

“ADB can also bring knowledge, new solutions. We can bring a wealth of experience from all around Asia and we can also bring some management and implementation capacity, which make sure that the money is spent to the best of its potential. This partnership can be much more than just a financial one.”

“We have been building this relationship and we will continue building it in years to come.”

ADB remains by Timor-Leste’s side, helping improve lives in Asia’s youngest country.