The basic vision for a country like East Timor is for the people to live in a prosperous society, comfortable in terms of food, shelter and clothing, in safety, and free from illness and ignorance (illiteracy).  People of this new nation should have an income that is fair and equally distributed; with no discrimination; and with a balanced development of towns and villages in different areas (Pedersen & Arneberg, 2004).  Part of the national plan is to bring the population to live on a higher quality of life through its developmental strategies.

The problems and constraints for poverty reduction in the rural and regional development are grouped under the following broad headings as mentioned in IMF (2005, 125-128):


Resource Constraints

a) Shortage of animals.

b) No means to lift and/or pump water for irrigation.

c) Inadequate agro-processing facilities.

d) Lack of capital.

e) Lack of, or limited markets.

f) Lack of economic opportunities.

g) Limited economic support services.

h) Lack of growth centres.

i) Lack of opportunities for remunerative work.

j) Shortage of labour during critical periods.

k) Discrimination in access to work opportunities.

l) Lack of information on employment and unemployment, and on labour issues such as workplace safety.


Social Aspects

a) Lack of social accountability.

b) Informal institutions weakened during the occupation and violence, with no formal social institutions set up during the transition period.

c) Lack of awareness of rights and responsibilities (civic education).

d) Lack of willingness to take initiatives and break the cycle of dependence.

e) Political and social divisions.

f) Political disturbances.

g) Social turmoil.

h) Lack of, or weak social cohesion and solidarity.


Gender aspects

a) Discrimination against girls and women.

b) High unemployment rate, especially among women.

c) Low wages especially for women.

d) Lack of professional skills among women, especially young women.

e) Lack of training facilities for women.



a) Lack of teachers and trainers.

b) Limited capacity within Government, private sector and civil society organisations including NGOs.

c) Limited capabilities or skills among people in general, and poor people in particular (e.g. literacy) in the villages.

d) Lack of knowledge of industry.

e) Lack of skills to start and operate businesses.

f) Illiteracy, including inability to manage money.

g) Inadequate number of personnel.

h) Limited capacity of existing personnel.

i) Traditional low-input, low-output technologies.



a) Lack of appropriate and essential facilities, equipment and supplies, including medicines.

b) Inadequate number of public facilities, such as schools and health centres.

c) Inadequate, and limited access to infrastructure.

d) Poor maintenance of existing infrastructure.

e) Access to other parts of the country difficult and/or costly.


Rural-urban and regional disparities

a) Limited access to relatively lower quality social services (including education, health, water supply, sanitation, and housing in rural areas, as compared with urban centres.

b) Regional disparities in educational achievement and opportunities (e.g. Baucau has the largest number of schools in the country while some of the other districts have very few schools).

c) Civil service with very limited presence in regional areas.

d) Lack of articulation of values and principles on the “service” role of civil service.

e) Limited capacity within civil service.

f) Limited number of civil servants.


Private sector

a) Lack of policies and programs to develop entrepreneurship and support for private enterprise development.

b) Lack of competition in the private sector.

c) Legal framework

d) Lack of legislation and regulations in areas such as immigration and labour.

e) Lack of national support and advocacy on behalf of susceptible groups in legal difficulties. Outmoded laws.

f) Inadequate capacity (number of personnel, skills, institutions, facilities and equipment) in the judiciary, legal professions and the police force.

g) High cost (financially and in time) of justice.

h) Lack of well-defined property rights, especially for land.



a) Lack of coordination and cooperation between government and non-government institutions.

b) Vested interests aiming to grab much of the public resources.

c) Uncertainty regarding security and the nature of government and/or governance among the population.

d) Crime.

e) Lack of institutional mechanisms for coordination in different districts and/or regions.

f) Lack of targeted support to meet the needs of children and the disabled.

g) Lack of plans for district development, based on comparative advantages.

h) Lack of criteria for allocation of resources to districts.

i) Lack of capacity at district level to account for funds allocated.

j) Lack of transparency.

k) Inadequate accountability mechanisms.

l) Long colonial past with highly centralised decision-making in government.

m) Lack of understanding of the Portuguese language among many administrators.

n) Legacy of bribery and corruption

o) Political favouritism in civil service recruitment.

p) Political influence in allocation of funds.

q) Corruption.


A strategic plan must be put in place by the government to develop these areas that will enhance its economy and ensure sustainability in the different sectors, may it be in agriculture, fisheries, forestry and industry.


From INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PAPER for Concept of Community Development by Luc Sabot

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