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Nearly 1/3 of the population of Timor-Leste has no choice but to drink dirty water.
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Over 100 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation in Timor-Leste.


People in Timor-Leste don't have access to safe water; nearly a third of the population.

700,000 people don't have access to adequate sanitation in Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste gained independence in 2002 following a 25 year war with neighbouring Indonesia. While there has been development and growth since, three in ten people still lack safe water and over twice as many have nowhere to go to the toilet.

The crisis

Timor-Leste's infrastructure was badly damaged during the war for independence. Basic services have been improved considerably, but today thousands of people lack such essentials as safe water and proper toilets.

The problem is made worse by the country's geography and uneven terrain. Day-to-day tasks such as farming and collecting water are difficult, and remote rural communities are hard to reach with services.

300,000 people don't have access to safe water in Timor-Leste, nearly a third of the population, and 700,000 people don't have adequate sanitation. As a result, over 200 children die every year from diarrhea.

Across the country, the lack of safe water and basic toilets means diarrheal illnesses are common and more than one child in ten dies before age five. There are impacts on development too, with people unable to work their way out of poverty.

Our approach

In Timor-Leste, WaterAid is working with communities to stop the practice of open defecation, which spreads disease and pollutes water sources. We do this using a process known as community-led total sanitation, which has had success elsewhere.

We are partnering with local organisations to bring safe water and sanitation to the poorest and hardest to reach people. Where existing water points are broken, we train people – women in particular – to become technical specialists, so that they can fix and maintain them long-term.

But political will and effective systems are needed to bring about change on a much bigger scale. This is why we are working closely with the national Government to develop its national sanitation policy.

Our impact

In Timor-Leste last year we reached:

  • 4,000 people with safe water
  • 4,000 people with improved sanitation
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