Urbanization and Security: “Dili Conflict Center”

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Fundasaun Mahein, 29 November 2013

Press Release

Urbanization and Security: “Dili Conflict Center”

Mahein’s Voice report No. 64 discusses the subject of urbanization and unorganized migration flowing from rural to urban areas. In particular, this report highlights local migrants who relocate to Dili year after year at an increasing rate, which has contributed to Dili’s transformation into a “conflict center”. Further compounding this problem is the fact that the urbanization movement has created an imbalance in the social, economic, and educational development in both the districts and Dili.

According to Fundasaun Mahein’s monitoring, urbanization has been spurred by the centralization of formal and non-formal educational opportunities in Dili. Other factors contributing to urbanization are the business opportunities, strong public administration, and employment opportunities migrants believe they will find in Dili. The government must implement basic infrastructure development projects, improve formal and non-formal education, increase job opportunities, and support small industries in the districts in order to minimize internal migration to Dili.

Fundasuan Mahein has identified the majority of migrants to be youth, more than 50% of whom are seeking employment in Dili. Additionally, about half of the fifty-thousand students who graduate from pre-secondary and secondary school every year continue their studies in Dili. This unsustainable situation is a possible threat to national stability; the cost of living in Dili continues to increase, students are having an increasingly difficult time continuing their studies to the highest level, and jobs are increasingly harder to attain, making involvement with street gangs an increasingly attractive option for the multitude of youth in Dili.

Urbanization has also led to increased instances of land disputes and a shortage of housing availability. To date, there are 2,904 unresolved land dispute cases (9.53% of the total number of land dispute cases). This may contribute to social conflict in the capital of Dili. Combined with the increasing ease with which the high concentration of youth in Dili can be recruited to organized crime, these problems increase the likelihood of conflict in urban areas which will then serve to further compound social inequality and systematic unemployment in Dili.

The problem of urbanization and internal immigration from rural areas the to the capital of Dili is one that the government must pay close attention to. The government needs to increase its investment in small industry in rural areas in order to support local economies and job opportunities to youth in the districts. Commercial networks must also be established in the districts to facilitate export and import of local products to get income to community in the rural area. Additionally, develop infrastructure such as road construction from rural areas to the districts , so communities can acces the market with their products. Finally, the government should install electricity and provide clean water to the communities in the rural areas, including supporting the small industries in the districts to minimize urbanization to the capital of Dili.

FM’s Recommendation:

1. Recommend to the government to increase resources for formal and non-formal education and provide good quality of human resources in order to avoid a high concentration of students in the capital of Dili.

2. Recommend to the government to support small industry in the districts to provide job opportunities to communities in the rural areas. And also to increase the local product through investing in agriculture.

3. Recommend to the government to fix the infrastructural problems (such as roads in the rural areas to the district) so that communities can access the market to sell their products.

4. Recommend to the Ministry of Economy, Commercial and Tourism to establish a commercial network in the districts to facilitate exports and imports of local products to the national trade. This should be done in order to avoid centralization of business to the capital of Dili.

For more details please consult the following:


Nélson Belo
Director Fundasaun Mahein
Website: www.fundasaunmahein.org
E-mail: nelson@fundasaunmahein.org
Tlp: +670 7737 4222

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