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Evaluating the Feasibility of Water Infrastructure Improvements in Timor-Leste

Aerial view of the Timor-Leste coastline where Tetra Tech is conducting an MCC project

Helping the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) determine if water supply and sanitation infrastructure will advance economic growth in Timor-Leste.

A significant percentage of residents in Dili, Timor-Leste, rely on contaminated drinking water from shallow aquifers. While piped drinking water serves about 35 percent of the population in Dili, disinfection in this system is ineffective. This contamination impedes effective improvements in both child and adult well-being due to frequent and extended incidences of diseases. The MCC engaged Tetra Tech to conduct a feasibility study to support the development of a five-year grant program to address this constraint by identifying whether investing in water disinfection, sanitation, and/or drainage infrastructure interventions maximize disease burden reduction.


  • Identifying disease pathways between humans and the environment to reduce poverty
  • Locating priority areas with the highest concentrations of disease cases
  • Associating disease reduction and improvements to water, sanitation, and drainage systems
  • Estimating the cost of these improvements to quantify project viability
  • Determining funding allocation to meet the five-year compact schedule

The proposed water, sanitation, and drainage infrastructure improvements will aim to reduce widely prevalent fecal contamination in water resources and the environment. The project will include a plant to produce chemical disinfectant for the water supply, building Dili’s first central wastewater system. As a part of our assessment, our public health specialist developed a disease burden reduction model to estimate the impact of the proposed infrastructure interventions by:

  • Compiling available population, household, and disease rates
  • Identifying areas where diarrheal disease risk and diarrheal deaths averted is likely to be highest, based on qualitative assessment of risk factors for diarrheal disease
  • Estimating baseline disease burden and relative reduction from different infrastructure improvements

Combining this information with the construction feasibility and cost and coordinating with ongoing sector investments by others, MCC can make investment decisions for potential infrastructure improvements to reduce disease burden. Tetra Tech will produce a feasibility study and draft an environmental and social impact assessment and a resettlement policy framework to support this effort.

Our feasibility study will determine the correlation between disease reduction and the infrastructure improvements; determine the optimum combination of subprojects that maximizes disease reduction and provides the greatest return for MCC investment; confirm that the program can be completed within the budget and the five-year compact period; accommodate future expansion; and support the critical MCC investment decision.

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