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Sri Lanka census data show heavy household Internet use in post-conflict minority districts

Contrary to the news report that I based my earlier post on, the Internet use data comes from a preliminary report of the 2011-12 Census. It is based on five percent of the responses from each district.

Unfortunately, the data are presented in a somewhat confused way. The first column is simple enough: ability to access Internet from the house. The second column is the problem. It reports the percentage of households where access to the Internet is from “elsewhere.” That is followed by additional categories of office, Nenasala, communication center and other. If these values add to the “elsewhere” number, we would be in very good shape. But, they do not.

Until we get some clarity on the numbers, I decided to eliminate the “elsewhere” column, assuming it in some way includes the following categories of office, etc. There is a possibility of some double-counting, but I assume the error is more or less the same in the different districts.

The end result is surprising. The district with the highest Internet use among households is not Colombo, it is Vavuniya. Eleven (out of 25) districts have overall household Internet use numbers above the national average. Of these only three (Colombo (2nd highest), Gampaha (6) and Kandy (10)) are the usual suspects. The other eight are post-conflict districts populated by significant minority populations: Vavuniya (1), Jaffna(3), Kilinochchi (4), Ampara (5), Batticaloa (7), Mannar (8), Trincomalee (9) and Mullativu (11). In terms of Internet access from home, only Jaffna makes it to double digits: 13.3 percent. Colombo (26.9%); Gampaha (16.7%) and Kandy (13.5%) are the top three. But when access outside the home, especially from cybercafes or communication centers, is factored in, the post-conflict districts zoom ahead.

This confirms what we reported in Chapter 3 of our book, based on research conducted in Jaffna in 2006. People under stress, people with families scattered across the globe, need to communicate.

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