Subject: LUSA: Dili Launches Public Consultation on National Development Plan

22 Jan 02 12:56 East Timor: Dili Launches Public Consultation on National Development Plan

East Timor´s UN transition administration and local leadership have launched a territory-wide consultation campaign to prepare a National Development Plan for presentation to an international donors conference set for Dili next May.

The initiative aims to be more than "a process of consultation", allowing civil society "to participate totally and directly" with government, UN administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello said Monday in kicking off the campaign in Dili.

Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri, who also addressed the ceremony, said the process of drafting the development plan would seek to reflect a "common vision of development for the erradication of poverty".

Independence leader Xanana Gusmao stressed that "development is not aimed at bettering the health of each individual but, rather, to achieve a globally healthy society".

The National Development Plan will be presented in Dili at the last of a series of international donors conferences before East Timor´s independence, which is slated for May 20.

With a population of about 700,000, the territory was devastated by pro-Indonesian forces at the time of the 1999 independence plebiscite and faces grave social and economic problems, illustrated by an under-five child mortality rate of 200 per 1,000.

Official figures show that 1,400 of 2,336 villages continue without wells or piped weater, and less that one-quarter of 500 school districts have facilities for all children.

SAS -Lusa-

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