The country’s population hits 721,455
By IAN M.KAUKUI
THE country’s population now stands at 721,455 with an annual growth rate of approximately 2.7 percent.
The provisional figure was obtained from the 2019 National Population and Housing Census which ended on the midnight “census night” of 24th November 2019.
Ten years ago the country’s population was at more than 551, 000.
Minister of Finance and Treasury Harry Kuma made this announcement at the launch of the 2019 Census provisional results on Monday.
Mr. Kuma said as the minister responsible for the national budget, this result will obviously put pressure on the country’s limited resources, especially in terms of decisions regarding equitable distribution of funds by province and sector.
“Our fiscal and budgetary framework will have to be adjusted to allow for an increase of 170,000 people or about 17,000 people per year.
“Secondly, with the annual growth slowing down from 3.0 percent in 1999-2009 to 2.7 percent in 2009-2019, is indicative of successive economic and public health sector policy interventions,” he added.
He said this also indicates the changing demographic behavior of the country’s population especially among women and their fertility preferences.
“However, even though our population growth is slowing down, it is still the highest growth rate in the pacific region.
“This has implications on income per-capita and poses policy challenges to manage population growth so that it does not outpace economic growth as is currently the case,” he said.
Thirdly, Mr. Kuma said he is also concerned with the rapid growth in Honiara and the high population density of close to 6,000 people per square km.
“It is clear that the growth in Honiara alone is driving urban growth in the country and many of us who have lived in Honiara have personally experienced the urban challenges facing Honiara,” he said.
He said urban city planning is therefore critical now than ever before, and government intervention is needed to overcome overcrowding and the increasing demands for more housing, utilities, and other basic services.
Mr. Kuma said he is very pleased to be part of the launching not only in his capacity as the minister responsible for the 2019 National Population and Housing Census Project (‘2019 Census Project’), but also on behalf of his government, the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA).
He said the preliminary findings of the 2019 Census is a significant development milestone for the nation and for the DCGA government, having embraced the 2019 Census as one of its key national development projects.
“We know that up-to-date census data and findings are important for effective policy, planning, and decision-making that ultimately should lead to effective service delivery and improvements in livelihoods.
“Although it is costly to invest in a census in the Solomon Islands given the vast geography and scattered islands, and the logistics involved, the return to investment outweighs the costs.
“In the absence of accurate or updated data, it would be very difficult for the government to accurately plan for development such as in supporting schools and building roads in communities,” he added.
Minister Kuma said with the rising demand for information in our age of technological advances and social media, it is important that government provide reliable official statistics and information on a regular basis for public consumption to counter unreliable and unofficial information which is often sources for ‘fake information’ or ‘fake news’ in our society.
He said he is looking forward to next year, 2021 for the final 2019 Census results and analysis to be made available.
“I understand that the NSO and Census Office is currently progressing work in finalizing data processing, especially data validation and editing, to be followed by the final analysis and results planned to be released by the third-fourth quarter 2021,” he said.