30 November 2013

Internal Migration from Districts makes capital the centre of conflict in East Timor, says Fundasaun Mahein

ETLJB 30 November 2013  - It its 64th edition, Fundasaun Mahein discusses the subject of urbanisation and uncontrolled migration from rural areas to urban centres in East Timor; in particular, the increasing numbers of internal migrants who move from rural areas to the capital city, Dili, and make “Dili became centre of conflict”.

According to Fundasaun Mahein’s monitoring, the social development process, economic, education and other aspects are not balanced between rural and urban areas in Timor Leste and that is it is this developmental process that causes urbanisation or "uncontrolled" migration from the Districts to Dili. Education, centralised commercial activities (export and import), business activities, public administration and job opportunities are all "capitalised" and make Dili the destination of urbanisation in Timor Leste.

Therefore, according to FM, there is a need to support basic infra-structure for formal and non-formal education, job opportunities in the Districts, the development of small industry in rural areas and road construction in order to minimise local migration to the capital city of Dili.

During its study, FM identified that majority of local migrants are youth with more than 50% of them seeking jobs in Dili. Also, every year about half of the fifty thousand students who graduated from pre-secondary and secondary school continue their study in Dili.

According to FM, it possible that this phenomenon will threaten national stability because of frustrations with the increasing cost of living, frustration because they cannot continue to study to the highest level and the lack of jobs are circumstances that make it easier for the youth to become involved in street gangs in Dili and, in the end, create instability within the territory.

This internal migration will also create other social problems like land disputes and lack of housing. Reality has shown that land disputes and housing and accommodation in Dili are increasing compared with the Districts FM cites "about 9.53% of land issue and 2.904 were under land dispute." (although it is not clear what these statistics mean). This may contribute to social conflict in the capital of Dili and may impact to national security. And it is possible for youth to be recruited by the organised criminal groups because they all concentrate in the capital. There is no balance of job opportunity and a high cost of living. It opens the opportunity to create conflict in urban areas because in the future Timor Leste will face two challenges which may contribute to conflict such as social inequality and systematic unemployment.

The problem of urbanisation and internal immigration from rural areas to the capital Dili is a matter to which the government must pay attention. The Government needs to increase investment in small industry in rural areas in order to support community economic development,  including opening up job opportunities to the youth in the Districts.  It must also establish commercial networks in the Districts to facilitate community export and import of local products to get income into the communities in the rural areas as well as develop infra-structure such as road construction from rural areas to the Districts, Sub Districts and the national network so that the community can access the market with their product. It is also necessary to instal electricity and provide clean water to the community in the rural areas and include support to small industry in the districts to minimise urbanisation in the capital, Dili.

 FM’s Recommendations

 1.    that the Government develop infra-structure for formal and non-formal education and provide good quality of human resources in order to avoid finalist students concentrating in the capital of Dili. 

 2. that the Government support small industry in the Districts to provide job opportunities to local communities in the rural areas and also increase the local product through investment in agriculture to avoid migrants coming to the capital for jobs.

 3.   that the Government fix infra-structure such as roads in the rural areas to the District and Sub District so that the community can access the market to sell their product.

 4.   that the Ministry of Economy, Commerce and Tourism establish commercial networks in the Districts to facilitate export and import community local product in the national market. To avoid centralising their business in the capital Dili. Source: Fundasaun Mahein, 29 November 2013 Press Release Edited by Warren L. Wright (Note: numerous grammatical and syntactical amendments were rendered to the original English translation).

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