352,000 people in Timor-Leste do not have clean water.

663,000 people in Timor-Leste do not have a decent toilet.

70 children under five die a year due to diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and 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 clean water and over half the population has 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.

Over 352,000 people don't have access to clean water in Timor-Leste, nearly a third of the population, and 663,000 people don't have decent toilets. As a result, 70 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal illnesses caused by poor water and sanitation.

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.

A woman sits listening to someone.