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Final 2010 Census Results Reveal Progress and Challenges

Launching of the Timor-Leste 2010 Census Results at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On the 8th of July, the National Statistics Directorate from the General Directorate of Analysis and Research launched the final results of the 2010 Population and Housing Census. The event took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was officiated by the Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres, the Minister of Finance Emilia Pires, other members of the Government and the UNFPA Representative Pornchai Suchitta. Among those present at the ceremony were also UNMIT’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mrs. Ameerah Haq, a large number of Ambassadors and dozens of representatives of UN agencies, international NGOs, other Government officials and development partners.

“The census team has completed most of its work and has produced a solid body of very relevant information. Now we – the Government, our development partners, NGOs and the private sector – are the ones who need to carry out our part. Now is the time for us to start using the information obtained by literally hundreds of thousands of hours of hard work. Now is the time to analyze the census results, and to wisely integrate them in all our activities geared at planning and improving the future of Timor-Leste”, said Emilia Pires as she presented the most significant results of the 2010 Census.

Some tendencies stand out in the main census report: the large increase of the total population, the rapid migration to Dili continues and literacy rates are improving, but both labour force participation and employment rates have decreased. The findings also suggest that the number of Timorese households with access to social amenities like mobile phones, TV and electricity has increased rather dramatically. At the same time, nine out of ten Timorese households still use firewood for cooking, thus posing an environmental threat to the country.

In his speech at the ceremony, Mr. Pornchai Suchitta pointed out that the capacity of the staff of the National Statistics Directorate has increased dramatically since 2004, when UNFPA assisted the Timorese Government with the realization of its first census as an independent nation. “The National Statistics Directorate has been in the driver’s seat and has no doubt done a fantastic job at the helm of the census operation”, Mr. Suchitta concluded.

Vice Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres delivered an optimistic message from the Prime Minister, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão. In his message, the Prime Minister recognized that Timor-Leste is still facing a number of tough challenges but stressed that he is confident that the Timorese people will overcome them. “I am happy to inform you that our Strategic Development Plan (SDP) for the next 20 years addresses all major weaknesses of our country. We have solutions, and we have big but realistic plans”, Mr. Gusmão said and then proceeded to mention some of the ambitious development goals established in the SDP.

The census report contains a wealth of information all the way down to the aldeia level. Apart from data on access to household amenities and rates of literacy and employment, interested readers will find information about crop production, livestock, school enrollment, housing materials, sanitation facilities and people with different kinds of disabilities, to name but a few of the indicators included in the report. For most indicators it is also possible to verify the difference between rural and urban areas, men and women and between different age groups.

Starting in August, staff from the National Statistics Directorate will disseminate and socialize the main census results by organizing workshops in every district of the country. District and Sub-District Administrators, Suco Chiefs, journalists, church leaders and other representatives of the civil society will be invited to these workshops to learn how to use the census information in a productive way. Towards the end of the year, five out of a total of eleven planned thematic census reports will be published. Some of the topics covered in these reports will be fertility, mortality, migration and urbanization, education, population projections, the labour force, agriculture, disability and gender dimensions.

The 2010 Census is jointly supported by the Government of Timor-Leste and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The main census results, as well as a summarized version with some of the key findings, can be accessed and downloaded from the website of the National Statistics Directorate: www.dne.mof.gov.tl