Subject: TLGOV: PM's speech on Census



Primary Census Statistics As presented by Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri

14 September 2004

National Statistics Directorate Dili, Timor-Leste

Distinguished guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Morning and welcome to this announcement of the results from the first Timor-Leste National Census.

It is with great pleasure that I have been invited to present to you today the results, which will be instrumental in assisting the first government of Timor-Leste, in partnership with our development partners, in appropriately targeting areas in need of development.

I would like to begin by congratulating the entire census team on a job well done. I would also like to thank UNFPA for the provision of financial and technical support, which along with support from other donors made the census possible.

As many of you are aware, Timor-Leste has suffered massive population displacements and social disruption. With the full transferral of independence in May 2002, we also inherited the enormous task of nation building and development. With much of this task still ahead of us we have been in urgent need of reliable demographic and socio-economic indicators.

While some of this information has been available from previous surveys, it is only today, with the results of the Census 2004 before us, that we have a truly accurate picture, based on information collected from every household in the country.

When we embarked on this project with UNFPA in 2003 we became the first nation to plan and execute a Census within the first two years of Independence. We are also the first to use GPS technology so comprehensively and innovatively, to collect and in the months ahead, to analyse, Census data.

In fact, when we introduced GPS technology there was some concern it was too advanced for Timorese trainers and that valuable census data may be lost. Those doubts have proven to be unfounded.

The Census 2004 was carried out in all sucos between 11th and 31st July 2004. During this period a team of nearly 4,000 census field staff visited over 190,000 households in the country. The information they collected was of a high quality and will be a valuable tool for the development of our new nation

Although the final figures from the computerisation process may show some variations, it is with pleasure that I can now release the preliminary population counts for the Timor Leste Census- 2004.

The current population of Timor-Leste is 924,642 This is an increase of 17.4% in the total population over the 2001 Suco Survey. The percentage increase varied considerably by district, with the largest increases being seen in Dili at 39%, followed by Oecussi at 30% and Liquica at 20%. Other districts in the west of the country experienced high growth as well ­Ainaro, 19%; Bobonaro, 18%; Ermera, 17%; Aileu, 16%; Manufahi, 15%; and Covalima, 14%. By contrast, growth was lowest in Baucau at 3% and other districts in the eastern part of the country also registered lower rates ­ Viqueque, 6%; Lautem, 8%; and Manatuto, 9%.

Let me summarise for you:

Rural to urban migration: The most dramatic increase in population figures is in the capital Dili. The population here has increased from 120, 474 in 2001 to 167,777. This represents a very striking increase and presents the Government with a great challenge in coping with this high rate of urbanization. If we are to avoid the overcrowding, unemployment, infrastructure and security problems that often results in other capitals of the developing world, we must plan accordingly.

Return of refugees: In 1999, an estimated 200,000 East Timorese, almost a third of the population, fled to safety in West Timor. With independence and the restoration of peace and order, refugees began returning. Today’s Census results show there are significant increases since 2001 in the populations of the border areas of Oecussi, Bobanaro and Cova Lima and the adjoining districts of Ainaro, Liquica and Ermera. In Oecussi the population has increased by 13,000 representing a growth of 30% which is the second highest after Dili. This cannot be accounted for by birth rates alone. We anticipate that the final results of the Census will also indicate the number of people who moved and were affected by the upheavals of 1999.

Growth rate: While the data on fertility will be available when the full results are in, it is clear that the high growth rate registered in previous surveys continues today. At the current rate of growth the population will cross the one million mark in the next two years. The information provided by the Census will help us in formulating population policies by identifying high fertility and infant mortality rates at a disaggregate level; scarce resources can be judiciously targeted where intervention is most needed. For this we need precise and localised data which will also be available in the districts after today.

Male-female ratios: While the male population has increased from 398,405 in 2001 to 467,757 in 2004 and the number of women from 388,935 in 2001 to 456,885 in 2004, interestingly, the male­female ratio remains unchanged since 2001 at 50.06 %. This could be an indication of higher female mortality rates including maternal deaths since the ratio of women to men is usually higher in developed countries. The one district where the ratio of males to females is highest is Dili at 52.7%, an indication of the number of males seeking employment or working in the city.

Households: Another important statistic to emerge from the preliminary results is the number of households: this has increased from 167,000 in 2001 to over 190,000 in 2004. The increase in households mirrors the population growth at 17% and the level of reconstruction that has taken place since 1999. When the final figures are processed we will have documentation on home ownership, quality of housing and population density.

I think we will all agree that such information will be of significant use and importance. Most especially, the Government will have to take account of these striking new figures as we elaborate our Sectoral Investment Programs. The impact of such rapid population growth will be seen in every area of our society and in all of the decisions that this Government has to take in its future investment decisions.

It is my hope and aspiration that the information and data collected through the Census with so much effort and at such expense, will be used appropriately and effectively by all stakeholders, including the government, that are committed to developing Timor-Leste and ensuring we reach the goals set out in our National Development Plan.

A more detailed presentation on the districts from the Census Technical Committee will be delivered to you shortly. The Committee will also answer any questions you may have.

Could the media please address questions to the technical committee during the media conference that will be held at the end of the Presentations.

Thank you

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