UN Timor-Leste Conducts Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of COVID-19

COVID-19 is a global pandemic requiring varying degrees of countermeasures to prevent the further spread of the virus. In response to the threat, the National Parliament of Timor-Leste authorized the President of the Republic to declare a State of Emergency (SoE). Government Decree No. 3/2020 lists the measures for implementation of the Declaration, which was approved by the Council of Ministers on 28 March 2020 with an end date of 26 June 2020. Accordingly, the Government of Timor-Leste (GoTL) imposed various actions such as domestic and international travel restrictions, closure of schools and physical distancing.[1]

To date (26 August 2020), Timor-Leste has contained the spread of COVID-19 relatively well, recording 26 positive cases with no community transmission identified and no fatalities. Rapid containment measures undertaken by the GoTL and the country’s relative geographic isolation have contributed to maintaining this low level. However, the country’s dependence on agricultural production, high levels of persistent multidimensional poverty, unemployment and chronic malnutrition, lack of basic infrastructure, dependence on exports, and unequal access to essential services mean the ongoing socio-economic impact of the pandemic could be severe. According to the United Nations, the pandemic poses risks ‘by directly reversing the hard gains made by countries toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and impacting severely the existing infrastructure and services’.[2]

To understand the extent of the impact on vulnerable groups, poor households, and Micro-, Small and Medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), the United Nations system in Timor-Leste conducted the rapid Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA). This assessment observed changes in livelihoods, employment, food security, healthcare, education and other basic services, including social protection and gender equality. In addition, it monitored variations in supply, demand, income and employment for MSMEs as a result of the GoTL measures. Information about the major challenges faced by various government agencies, non-government organizations and their response were also collected. The assessment can be used for informing socio-economic response and recovery programmes in Timor-Leste.



[1] Government Decree No. 3/2020 of 28 March - Implementing Measures of the Declaration of the State of Emergency Made by the Decree of the President of the Republic no 29/2020, of March 27

[2] United Nations. June 2020. Brief #2: Putting the UN Framework for Socio-Economic Response to COVID-19 Into Action: Insights, p.3

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