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Poverty declining in Timor-Leste

Extensive Household Survey finds increase in Living Standards

 Dili, September 28, 2016 – The national poverty rate has fallen from 50.4% in 2007 to 41.8% in 2014 according to the latest Timor-Leste Survey of Living Standards. This means that more Timorese are able to afford essential items compared to 2007.

The survey also indicates that the international extreme poverty rate dropped from 47.2% in 2007 to 30.3% in 2014. This means that Timor-Leste has reduced poverty faster than in many other countries.

“This survey is important in measuring the progress being made and government’s efforts to reduce poverty and to improve peoples’ access to vital services,” said Vice Minister of Finance Helder Lopes. “It lets us measure how far we have come as a nation, and also tells us the areas where we need to devote more resources.”

The Survey was conducted between April 2014 to April 2015 and involved 5,916 households across all districts in Timor-Leste. These households were asked questions related to their ability to purchase essential goods and services such as food, housing, clothing and transport.

“The survey provides an excellent source of information to inform government policy,” said Director General of Statistics Elias dos Santos Pereira. “For example, we need this information when deciding the right fees and charges for government services to ensure that they are fair and that the population is able to afford them.”

In line with the decline in poverty rates, other indicators show improvement between 2007 and 2014.   Significant nationwide improvements have been made access to basic utilities, especially access to electricity, education of children, and better health outcomes. Improvements can also be seen in access to sanitation facilities and access to safe drinking water. More Timorese can now afford items such as mobile phones, television, motorcycles and appliances such as fans and electric rice cookers.

“This survey shows that more people from lower-income households have a greater ability to buy essential goods,” said World Bank Representative Bolormaa Amgaabazar. “We see this in both the rural and urban areas across Timor-Leste.”

The quality of the survey has been assured by the involvement of the World Bank who have brought international poverty experts to ensure that the survey meets international standards.

“The reduction in poverty and increase in living standards is something to be proud of,” said Vice Minister Lopes. “However, this does not mean that poverty has ended. Much more needs to be done to ensure that all Timorese live in prosperity and participate in the wealth of the nation.”

The Government with the support of all stakeholders remains committed to working towards poverty reduction in Timor-Leste.

About the Timor-Leste Survey of Living Standards

The 2014 Timor-Leste Survey of Living Standards follows previous nationally representative surveys conducted in 2007 and 2014 by the General Directorate of Statistics, with technical support from the World Bank.  A focus of the surveys has been to produce high-quality results that provide a sound basis for the monitoring of household living standards, and the critical task of designing public policy to help improve living standards for all.

Key results: percentage of population living in households:

  • With electricity connection: 36% in 2007 rising to 72% in 2014
  • With improved sanitation: 42% in 2007 rising to 60% in 2014
  • With all children attending school: 58% in 2007 rising to 83% in 2014
  • With no underweight children under 5 years of age: 65% in 2007 rising to 84% in 2014
  • With no stunted children under 5 years of age: 62% in 2007 rising to 76% in 2014
  • With no children under 5 years of age suffering from wasting: 80% in 2007 rising to 93% in 2014

What is the national poverty rate?

The national poverty rate indicates what percentage of the population lives below the standard of living considered acceptable in Timor-Leste. This information is very important and the government uses it to make policy decisions.

What is the international extreme poverty rate?

The international poverty rate indicates what percentage of Timorese lives in extreme poverty using the global standard. Though the global standard is lower than the Timor national standard, it allows the government to see how well Timor-Leste is doing compared to other nations.

Please click HERE to view the report in details.