Subject: ABC: Satellite census begins for E Timor


Sunday July 11, 08:52 AM

Satellite census begins for E Timor

The first national census in East Timor begins today with several thousand workers visiting every household in the country, starting with the homes of the Prime Minister and President.

In what is believed to be a world first, statisticians are using the latest satellite technology to record the addresses of every household to make sure everyone in the country is counted.

The census includes specific questions about the whereabouts of householders in 1999 to get a clearer picture of how the pre-independence violence has affected the population rate.

Dan Baker, from the United Nations Population Fund, believes the population remains around 800,000.

"The questions are: 'Were you living in a different place in 1999 than you are now, and then if you've moved, why did you move?'" he said.

"One of the reasons would be like violence, a lack of security or something like that.

"So we'll be able to get some data on whether people were displaced because of the crisis in 1999."

Mr Baker says the use of satellite technology is believed to be a world first.

"Each team is taking with them one of these GPS devices and they get an exact geographical reading of every household that they go to visit and where they ask questions," he said.

"Then we compare that with maps that we got from the Australian Defence Forces, which are accurate enough to show every structure in the country, and by matching up the geographical readings that the interviewers got with the maps we can tell whether every structure has been visited."

The last official count of East Timor's population was 14 years ago when it was still Indonesia's 27th province.

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