By Andy Johnson
Wednesday, October 28th 2009
Part IV of a special report by CCN senior journalist Andy Johnson, on information now being released from the 2000 Census. This concludes his analysis of the report which began in the Sunday Express.
OF the nearly 304,000 households existing in Trinidad and Tobago in 2000, 61 per cent of them had telephones, 83.2 per cent had at least one refrigerator, almost 19 per cent had a deep-freeze, another 68 per cent had at least one stereo or radio with a CD player and 86 per cent of them had a television set. Almost 97 per cent had a stove, the single most prevalent item enumerated.
These were among some of the big numbers indicated in the census about what the researchers called “the higher standard of living that is characteristic of Trinidad and Tobago”.
Listed in the section of the census data on Housing and Living Arrangements, and addressing Access to Valuable Goods, the information also revealed that 54. 9 per cent had a washing machine, 22.9 per cent a vacuum cleaner, 16.7 per cent contained a water heater, while 64.4 per cent had water tanks, and 28.4 per cent had a microwave.
Among the valuable goods least present in these homes, there were air-conditioners in only 5.9 per cent of these homes, 7.2 per cent of them had Internet while 11.5 per cent had a computer, 3.8 per cent had an electric polisher, 13.3 per cent had a clothes dryer and 15.2 per cent had either a lawnmower or related appliance.
“Households’ demand for the consumption of valuable durable goods is correlated to the level of their income, and helps to determine the individuals’ social rank in the society,” the survey report said.
Electricity as the means of providing lighting was being used in 90 per cent of these households, the census found, while the use of kerosene for this purpose in the remaining ten per cent of homes was found to be the case in rural districts.
“This is a highly expected finding,” the report concluded, “because Trinidad and Tobago is an exporter of liquefied gas and petroleum products, which are used to provide domestic fuel consumption and generate electricity.” It was, the report said, another “good indicator of standard, in that utilising these two products for cooking and lighting is a normal practice in modern households”.
Widespread availability of safe drinking water was given as another indicator of a generally acceptable standard of living in the country. Generally, the report said, more than 90 per cent of the households obtained such quality water from acceptable sources.
In the county Nariva/Mayaro, however, the report said, 38 per cent of the households there received safe drinking water from private catchment, a term used to describe rainwater collection. Truck-borne supplies also made up for the rest of the ten per cent households which did not have water piped directly to them.
Only 1. 5 per cent of them relied on rivers or springs as their sources of water.
From the overall picture, the figures showed that the number of households which had water piped directly into their homes increased from what they were in 1990, with only about 29,057 households (9.6 per cent) still getting their water supplies from standpipes or other sources in 2000. This figure in 1990 was 15 per cent.
Such a distribution, the report said, means that 95 per cent of households has access to an improved supply of water, as defined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
Indeed, the report said in its introduction to this section of the census findings that they were critical in helping to determine what the country must do to meet the MDGs. It said housing was a basic need, and usually corresponded to the main asset in households’ portfolio all over the world. It said housing was linked to the seventh MDG, dealing with the environment.
Some 77.3 per cent of the households in 2000 lived in separate dwellings, the census found, up slightly from the 77.0 per cent in the previous decade. A total of 67 per cent of them used brick and concrete as the primary materials for outer walls, moving from almost 59 per cent. Another 13 per cent used a combination of wood and concrete, reaching a combined total of 80 per cent of households.
Whereas in some districts where up to 20 per cent of the dwellings were made of wood (Tobago, Nariva/Mayaro, St Patrick and Pt Fortin), the researchers pointed out that this may no longer be explained on the basis of socioeconomic factors.
“Some attributes of dwelling quality, including year in which the building was constructed, the architecturally designed structures, utilising highly esteemed type of wood, are necessary,” the report said.
More than three-quarters of the total housing stock (230,291) were owner-occupied, two points higher than the figure in 1990, but the number of households living in either Government or private rented dwellings increased from 43,325 in 1990 to 46,145 in 2000.
This, the census report said, was due mainly to the share number of households living in rent-free units over this period.