1.2 million

After decades of struggle for independence, how do you rebuild a country from the ground up? This was the challenge faced by the people of the island nation of Timor-Leste in Southeast Asia.

The Government and people of Timor-Leste overcame this faster than anyone expected. They invested in health, education and electricity – increasing coverage from 30% in 2011 to 82% in 2015 – and changed lives.

But water and toilets lag behind. Especially in the steep and forested mountains where many of the poorest people live. These difficult-to-access communities rely on local government authorities that lack funding and training. Landslides and flooding threaten the services that do exist.

We work with the Government to make clean water, toilets and good hygiene as much a part of normal daily life as electricity has become. We help excluded people demand their rights. And we make sure local governments have the means and skills to help them. We will be there every step of the way, working together to create lasting change. 

do not have clean water.

More than one in four.

people do not have a decent toilet.

That's over half the population.

 die every year from diarrhoea.

Caused by dirty water and poor toilets.

A community comes together

The most important thing for the community is water.
Etelvina, 45, Grotu

Etelvina has lived in Grotu most of her life. Water used to be a huge problem for her – if she needed any, she had to make a two-hour round trip to a river.

The slippery riverbank scared her, and the water tasted bad. She would get intense stomach aches after drinking it. But she and her community had no other choice – this was normal.

Together with our local partner, we were able to help Grotu’s community change this. We built a gravity flow system, bringing clean water from a spring through kilometres of pipes to the heart of the village.

To make sure the system would last, we involved the local community in the design process. They contributed materials and labour, and learnt how to make repairs. Now, an enthusiastic village water committee looks after it.

“People are happy now we have water,” said Etelvina. She has been able to start growing her own crops – corn and cassava. “Everything has changed in the community.”