Inclusive Economic Recovery Needed as Covid-19 Hits Informal Workers and Women in Agriculture in Timor-Leste.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Timo Leste - Women in Agriculture

COVID-19 has hit hard the incomes of informal workers and women in the agriculture sector in Timor-Leste. Daily wage workers’ income dropped by 65%, and 98% of women in agriculture earned less than US $ 50 per month - 32% worse than pre-State of Emergency figures - according to respondents of research conducted by MDI and Universidad Nacional Timor-Lorosa’e (National University of Timor-Leste). Oxfam and Monash University supported the research.  

Over 18,100 people in Timor-Leste make a living through informal work, making it the primary source of income for eight percent of households, according to the Timor-Leste census of 2015. The informal businesses (kiosks, street sellers, market vendors, and workers in public transport) have received limited support from the government. The economic development plans and the economic diversification debate have failed to capture their needs.

Daily wage workers are left at risk as the informal sector is not subject to labor laws, minimum wage requirements, or work protection such as social security. Women in agriculture are in a similar situation and have experienced a reduction in income and food security while their unpaid care workloads have increased. The pandemic, combined with the ensuing state of emergency, has drastically reduced not only the incomes of these groups but also their resilience to cope as the crises continue.  

The research shows that the US $ 200 household payments provided by the government during the State of Emergency benefitted the local economy. 78% of respondents from the informal sector said their sales increased after the payment was made, with 80% reporting better prices for their products. Economic stimulus provided to households made a substantial difference to informal businesses by creating increased demand and income.  

Diversifying the economy and investing in the informal sector and agriculture is essential for sustainable and inclusive economic recovery, particularly for women, people with disabilities, and those in the informal sector.

The Report on Women in Agriculture in Timor-Leste can be downloaded here.

The Report on The Informal Sector in Timor-Leste can be downloaded here.

#InclusiveEconomicRecovery #InformalSector #WomenInAgriculture

These pieces of research have been supported by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through the Governance for Development program.

Contact information: 

For further information please contact:

Lucio J. Savio | Inclusive Development Program Manager | Oxfam in Timor-Leste

P: +670 77410476 | E:

Facebook:@OxfamTimorLeste | Web: