East Timor

Infographic on key statistics of East Timor.


As Timor-Leste, a.k.a. East Timor, is a third-world country, it relies heavily on its natural resources to make up the large portion of its GDP. However it boasts one of the fastest growing economies and as you would expect with many poorer countries, the main source of income is based on micro-economies whether it be growing crops for the market or jewelers, anything to put food on the table. Because of this there isn’t much in the sense of research on new and innovative designs for the international communities. One new plan for the nation is to build it up as a tourist hotspot with its tropical climates and close location to countries like Indonesia and Australia.

The coffee industry is one of its major export commodities even though it accounts for less that 1% of the world’s coffee production. After the Indonesian invasion many of the crops were destroyed but currently it is still rebuilding, with around 80% of the beans being of the Arabica kind. 85-90% of the crops are exported and provides a vital source of income.


Although the country lacks in terms product design, it is well known for its production of the Tais. The Tais is a traditional, often manually woven, material that can be used as a decoration over the body or a decorative piece over furniture. Although men have become involved in tais production and especially marketing, mostly it is still considered women’s work. Weavers produce either as individuals in their own homes or sometimes in small groups if facilities such as a building are available. Current producer groups appear to be comprised of the poorer sections of society with limited literacy and education and few other work opportunities. Tais from different districts have their own specific colours and some have their own designs or motifs and cultural associations. Some of the motifs and symbols seen today were designed prior to and in early Portuguese times.


Maria Madeira is an East Timor born artist that depicts many of her life experiences in her artwork. She has produced paintings that have covered her life from the Indonesian invasion to urban myths she heard as a child. Her work often infuses many processes and materials to create inspiring pieces that have an underlying story in each painting.


Description: “According to the legend, East Timor originated from the time a young boy first aided to rescue a crocodile, which later returned the favour by helping the young boy to see the world, and by becoming the Island of East Timor.
Influenced by my work as an interpreter and translator for the Ambulance project, this painting is an attempt to express the necessity of first aid in East Timor as we struggle as an independent nation. Just like the young boy, this very young nation of East Timor needs rescuing in order to grow strong for the future generations to come.”


An Australian scientist has come up with a free water filtration system that can be made from readily available materials and needs no skills to create. Tony Flynn has developed a water filtration system that uses terracotta clay, coffee grounds or tea leaves and cow manure.

The is created by creating a mixture with the clay and the coffee or tea leaves to make a biscuit like mixture. The moulded mixture is then surrounded with the manure where it is lit to dry the filter out and only takes an hour to dry out. This process is better than using a kiln, as kilns are often too expensive for poor communities and the manure is the fuel source in itself.

The creator, Tony Flynn has left his design unpatented in hope that it can be used globally to play a role in the desperate need for clean drinking water.

Personally I have a lot of faith in this design as communities all over the world have access to this type of filtration system and it doesn’t rely on the international community to distribute systems that often are costly and require maintenance. This physical filtration system removes the need for chemicals such as chlorine that can give an unpleasant taste. Furthermore when the organic material in the mixture burns away it leaves cavities that impurities get trapped in but allows only the water to pass through.

The invention was born out of a World Vision project involving the community of Manatuto, in East Timor. The charity wanted to help rehabilitate a small pottery community that had been devastated in the civil war that led to East Timor’s independence, the intention being to assist the Manatuto potters to produce their own water filters and perhaps produce enough to generate income through sales. Tests with the E-coli bacterium have seen the filters remove 96.4 to 99.8 per cent of the pathogen — well within safe levels. Using only one filter, a litre of clean water can be produced in just two hours.

ClayFilter1 flynn_main ClayFilter2


Making the filter



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