Consequences of Interconnected Poverty: Angola and The DRC
The latest story in a seemingly endless news cycle about violence and mining in central Africa focuses on the neighboring countries of Angola and The DRC (the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Both countries are mineral rich, but this story, along with many others, is rooted in the poverty that resulted from the exploitation of these resources by Western countries. 

The Violence Between Angola and the DRC

How did Angola come to host such vast numbers of DRC migrants and refugees that a humanitarian crisis was possible? In recent years, many Congolese diamond miners have crossed the border between Angola and the DRC to take advantage of Angola’s mining industry. In the DRC, the supply chain and mines are more government regulated, creating a lower profit margin for miners. Apparently, Angola’s president, João Lourenço, recently decided that, because the government was not financially benefitting from these migrations, the Congolese must leave.

This has catalyzed a series of violent expulsions by Angola’s military and police about which The United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNCHR) has expressed concern. Congolese have been murdered, raped, looted, burned out of their homes, separated from their children and stranded. The Kasai Province of the DRC, which is on the country’s northeastern border with Angola, has become overcrowded with more than 200,00 of expelled migrants. The UNCHR cautions that such an influx to an already unstable region could cause a humanitarian crisis.

A Brief History of Angola

Angola and the DRC have similar, intertwined stories of colonial rule, civil wars and poverty that have been integral in creating the current problem. The Portuguese established a settlement at Luanda Bay in 1576, which eventually became the colony of Angola. Wealth from natural resources desired in the West and the Portuguese involvement in the Atlantic slave trade fueled the colony at the expense of its native people.

A revolution in Portugal allowed Angolans to gain its independence in 1975. However, leaders of different nationalist movements within Angola clashed, leading to a civil war that, with some interludes, ravished the country from 1975 to 2002 with an estimated 1.5 million Angolan lives lost and another 4 million Angolans displaced.

While the end of the civil war allowed Angola to focus on harnessing its natural resources, the country’s history still manifests in extreme poverty. The improving economy has mostly benefitted the wealthy while 20 percent of the population remains unemployed and five million Angolans live in slum conditions.

The diamond mining industry that the economy depends on was originally created for European gain, meaning that safety standards for Angolans were never established. In Africa as a whole, an estimated one million miners earn less than one dollar a day, a wage below the extreme poverty line. Besides having few wage or labor regulations in Angola, an estimated 46 percent of miners are between the ages of five and 16. It is a sad irony that the industry the economy needs fuels poverty and oppression.

A Brief History of the DRC

Angola and the DRC have followed a similar developmental pattern, and therefore, experience poverty similarly. The DRC has also progressed from colonial rule to civil wars and violence, creating poverty that manifests in a growing gap between the rich and poor and an economy based on unjust mining conditions. This led to the violence and conflict between the two countries that are so prevalent in the current news cycle.

The area that now constitutes the DRC dates back to The Berlin West African Conference in 1884-45, where the Great Powers of Europe at the time officially divided the land, making their own colonial boundaries that ignored tribal and ethnic distinctions. After the division, Belgium’s King Leopold II officially began exploiting the DRC’s natural resources and its inhabitants with slave labor.

The DRC became independent in 1960. However, the instability of the new government and continued attempts of outside involvement from Belgium led to the Congo Crisis, essentially five years of violence and political instability. Another civil war, involving Angola and most of the surrounding area in what some term Africa’s World War, consumed the region from 1997-2003.

Because these wars were rooted in the colonial past, infrastructure and stability were lacking. An estimated six out of seven people in the DRC live on less than $1.25 a day. Approximately 2.9 million Congolese have been internally displaced by the violence. Since Belgium focused on the abundant natural resources, jobs like mining became the main vocation for Congolese. Additionally, Belgium neglected to oversee education in the DRC, leaving many unequipped for jobs outside the mines. The DRC once supplied a fourth of the world’s diamond supply, but that number has dropped significantly in recent years, in favor of other resources like cobalt, leaving the remaining diamond miners even less prosperous.

Interconnected Poverty Between Angola and the DRC

Angola and the DRC have become linked as these DRC miners seek opportunities across the border. The countries’ colonial pasts have made them dependent on natural resources as part of their attempts to combat poverty and recover from civil war. But, in this case, attempts to financially recover have led to more violence as both the Angolan government and the DRC’s miners strive to earn enough money from diamond sales.

There is a political undercurrent as well due to the DRC’s President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down since his maximum constitutional mandate ended in 2016. Interconnected government concerns due to the close proximity and a historical tendency for government conflict to become violent have been part of Angola and the DRC’s relationship for years.

In Africa’s World War, Angola supported a rebel coalition that removed DRC military dictator Mobutu Sese Seko from power in 1997, assisted the DRC in combating rebel movements from Rwanda and Uganda in 1998 and supported President Joseph Kabila at the start of his term. This war caused many refugees to seek asylum in Angola in the first place, and fear of another such conflict if Kabila does not step down, seems to be reverberating in the current violent expulsion.

However, based on the economic growth seen since the war’s end, the potential exists for two countries to improve their poverty rates. Angola has seen an average annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increase of 8.68 percent with the help of foreign investment and high oil prices. Although in the past two years there have been GDP decreases, the overall trend is positive. The DRC’s GDP has also averaged increases since 2002, although it has fluctuated more. These growth rates reveal hope for those living in poverty in Angola and the DRC if the governments can avoid further violence and instability and begin to combat gaps between the rich and poor.

– Charlotte Preston

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About the Health Expectancy in Angola
Sometimes referred to as “healthy life expectancy” or HLE, health expectancy measures more than just the number of years a person remains alive. In fact, it is calculated by “adjusting total life expectancy for the number of years spent in poor health.” As the following list illustrates, there are many improvements yet to be made, but there is also good reason to be hopeful about the health expectancy in Angola.

Top 10 Facts About the Health Expectancy in Angola

  1. The average life expectancy in Angola is approximately 58 years for males and 62 years for women. However, these statistics leave many questions unanswered regarding the health expectancy of the country’s 13 million inhabitants. For example, in Angola, respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis limit mobility and cause years of suffering before proving fatal.
  2. Improved access to clean water across Angolan villages reduces the threat of contracting diarrheal diseases, which is the leading cause of death in Angola. Thanks to a project called Angola Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) — implemented in 2016 by World Vision International — the people in Angola’s Ukuma Municipality now have clean water and far fewer incidents of illness.
  3. The average health expectancy in Angola is dismally affected by the country’s high maternal mortality rate, with 600 out of every 100,000 births resulting in the death of the mother. This statistic is exacerbated by Angola’s high fertility rate of 5.8 births per woman. A woman with a difficult pregnancy or birth outcome, including preeclampsia, preterm labor and fetal growth impairment is more likely to have these issues recur with subsequent births. She is also more vulnerable to seemingly unrelated illnesses like cardiovascular disease.
  4. USAID is working with the Government of Angola to help develop a health care system that serves all citizens of Angola. This includes providing family planning services for Angolan women, implementing health education to empower women with knowledge about their bodies and conducting training for healthcare workers.
  5. In Angola, one in five children dies before reaching the age of five. The odds are worse for children in rural areas with limited access to healthcare facilities. The lives of these children are not only cut short by treatable diseases like malaria, but their few years on earth are filled with pain and suffering.
  6. With the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), USAID is addressing Angola’s fight against malaria. By providing insecticide-treated mosquito nets, preventative treatment of expectant mothers, accurate diagnosis and swift treatment, the goal is to reduce malaria in Angola by 50 percent.
  7. In 2018, the budgetary allocations for the health and education sectors were increased. This allowed an additional 20,000 teachers and 1,700 healthcare personnel to be hired.
  8. It is estimated that an entire generation of Angolans missed the chance to attend school due to the Angolan Civil War. A sense of normalcy is slowly returning to the educational system in Angola, though only four years of primary school are compulsory. This is an important component of the health expectancy in Angola because primary school students are taught the basics of hygiene and the importance of clean drinking water, along with other crucial facts for maintaining good health.
  9. Before the development of retroviral drugs, dying of AIDS was a protracted and usually excruciating process. This remained the case for Angolans suffering from AIDS as recently as 2004. Thanks to initiatives including the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), fewer Angolans are being infected with HIV/AIDS, and those who are living with the virus are receiving treatment in a more timely manner. This extends life expectancy and makes life with the syndrome more comfortable.
  10. UNICEF has played an enormous role in improving the health expectancy in Angola. A 2018 report listed notable accomplishments including 500 latrines being built, 39,352 children being screened for malnutrition and 1,000 healthcare workers being trained for cholera prevention. These efforts are ongoing, and with help from global partners, the outlook is bright.

The Angolan Civil War, which lasted from 1975 until 2002, devastated and impoverished the country. Lack of infrastructure, little to no healthcare services and a widespread lack of clean water were just some of the difficulties the nation faced as it struggled to regroup after the war. However, today, the Angolan government is playing a proactive role in continuing to improve the collective health expectancy in Angola.

– Raquel Ramos
Photo: Flickr

New law hopes to attract new business to AngolaThe future is bright for business in Angola. A new president and a new law are set to open the doors for foreign investment and more opportunities for the people in the country.

The country recently passed a new Private Investment Law. This Angola business law is set to attract lucrative businesses to the nation.

Angola Business Law

The unanimously passed Private Investment Law opens Angola’s doors to foreign investment that had previously been impeded by difficult requirements and country’s bad reputation.

The old law mandated that any foreign investor that partners with a local company or natural person has to have at least a 35 percent stake in the proposed business or investment. This requirement was intended to help Angolans partner with foreigners but turned out to be a restrictive factor for carrying out investments in the country.

To help aid international business, the new Angola business law removes the minimum amount of investment. Foreigners can now invest in Angola without paying in the hefty $1 million minimum, which was also one big barrier. The law also requires that foreign investors hire Angolan workers and provide a discrimination-free environment with good salaries, job training and a healthy environment.

The Work Behind the Law

The new Angola business law is all part of President Joao Lourenco’s plan for developing the country as an economic miracle.

After being elected and ousting former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power for nearly four decades, Lourenco promised to attract foreign investment. In recent years, the country has struggled due to its lack of a diversified economy. The country heavily relies on selling crude oil externally, as oil accounts for more than 90 percent of all exports.

Ever since a decrease in oil prices, Angola has struggled to remain competitive. The new law makes business more open to foreigners and will ideally attract new businesses that can hire Angolans and bring capital to Angola’s economy.

The Fight Against Corruption

Lourenco ran his campaign on the promise of fighting corruption within Angola’s government, but he is also very committed to helping business thrive in his country.

“We are very committed to removing a major obstacle to doing business in Angola, which is the so-called phenomenon of corruption,” he told in an interview with Euronews. “So, this is a struggle that is difficult, it will take some time but we are prepared to face this giant problem of corruption and we are sure that we will win.”

By opening his country for foreign business and tackling barriers, he encourages large corruptions and wealthy investors to consider Angola.

Chairman and CEO of ABO Capital, Zandre Campos, is particularly encouraged by the law. He stated that the future is bright for Angola’s economy and its investment opportunities. All of the elements included in the law can greatly contribute to the growth of businesses, research, and trade, which is crucial for the country.

The world should watch Angola in the coming months to see if this law attracts foreign business and helps the nation build its economy. If nothing else, parliament’s nonpartisan stand and President Lourenco’s work thus far are very encouraging for the country.

With the new Angola business law, the future looks bright for Angola’s economy and workers.

– Sarah Stanley

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in AngolaAngola, located on the western coast of Southern Africa, has a current population of over 31 million people. Unfortunately, many men, women and children continue to live in poverty and are going hungry. The current Global Hunger Index score of the country is 32.5. Luckily, there are several if not many organizations that have a desire to eradicate the country’s hunger epidemic. Below are the top 10 facts about hunger in Angola.

Top 10 Facts about Hunger in Angola

  1. While the number of undernourished people in 2015 was at 14 percent (according to UNICEF), malnutrition is affecting many children within the country, with a 37 percent prevalence of moderate and severe stunting.
  2. According to the World Vision, the civil war that had lasted for 27 years is still affecting the people of Angola, despite the fact that it has ended in 2002. Because of this as well as the drought in 2015, malnutrition and food insecurity rates have increased.
  3. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), farmers are unable to access certain agricultural resources, preventing the production of crops that also leads to food insecurity.
  4. The Salesian Missions is an organization that aspires to help children and families in poverty and provides aid to their needs. Their mission and focus are not only in providing training and educational programs to the youth, but they also deliver meals in Luanda to about 40 students who are undernourished. This program was able to purchase and provide food for many boarding students in the city.
  5. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is working in Angola in order to not only help with the productivity of the citizens but also help nourish and provide food for many of the Angolan people. According to FAO, their assistance will be created in accordance with 2018-2022 Country Programming Framework (CPF) that focuses on areas regarding food security, management of resources and strengthening farming productions. Because people are going hungry in Angola, FAO is helping regarding methodology and a Farmer Field School.
  6. FAO also supports a policy and strategy regarding the hunger epidemic in Angola. This strategy is called the National Food Security and Nutrition Strategy (ENSAN) and was implemented in 2009. This strategy works to provide not only access to food for the people of Angola but also ensures the quality of it.
  7. Angola’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development also helps increase nutritional needs which support the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network or FANRPAN for short. FANRPAN is a nonprofit organization that promotes and suggests strategies for food, agriculture and natural resources including developing activities and opportunities for development.
  8. Rise Against Hunger is an organization and global movement that desires to eradicate hunger. They provide aid and assistance to countries in need, distributing packaged meals to Angola, but to other countries around the world as well.
  9. IFAD desires to fight against hunger in Angola by providing loans to expand and increase nutritional assistance in the country. One of their activities includes helping with the expansion of food crops and fisheries.
  10. The United Nations Joint Program on Children, Food Security and Nutrition in Angola is determined to end malnutrition in children. This program desires to strengthen efforts to end hunger, advocate for decreasing food prices and improve the evaluations as well as monitoring of nutrition among the people.

These top 10 facts about hunger in Angola demonstrates that many organizations, programs and movements have every desire to eradicate the hunger epidemic. They give people hope for both a better nation and a better future for their families.

– Charlene Frett
Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in AngolaAs of 2016, Angola was the United States’ fourth largest African trading partner. This is primarily due to the vast oil reserves that exist within Angola’s borders. Because of the lucrative nature of oil exports, these reserves are a crutch that Angola’s economy relies heavily upon. Oil, as a commodity, has a predictive economic effect. The global economy experiences an ebb and flow that roughly mirrors oil prices. Angola, due to its heavy reliance on oil exports, is a microcosm of this pattern, meaning that its economy is at the mercy of shifting global oil prices. As of August 2, 2018, the price of a crude oil barrel was at a moderately strong $70. This is a slight boon to Angola’s economy, but will likely be short-lived as powerful global players such as the United States and China begin maneuvering to reduce their reliance on unclean energy sources.

Economic Diversification

Economic growth and longevity in Angola are reliant on sector diversification. If the nation continues to rely heavily on its oil production, then it will not be able to achieve economic stability and robustness in the coming years. Developing and growing new economic sectors often requires start-up capital in the form of investments and loans. Despite strong financial institutions, credit portfolios are limited in Angola across both the private and public sector. Increasing credit access options in Angola is key to its success as a developing nation.

A variety of institutions and initiatives exist that aim to increase credit access in Angola. Chief among them is Angola’s own governing body, the Government of the Republic of Angola (GRA). In 2015, the GRA created both new legislation and a new agency dedicated to investment and exports. Both these initiatives were established with the hope of employing start-up capital to bolster economic diversification and reduce reliance on oil in the nation.

Credit Access in Angola

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) began a program in 2014 aimed specifically at Angola’s small and medium business sectors. Credit access across these sectors is chronically low, which results in drastically reduced economic growth. USAID’s 2014 credit access program revolves around a partnership with Banco Keve, a bank headquartered in Angola’s capital, Luanda. This partnership provided the program with increased financial mobility, which allowed it to offer $4.8 million in loans to businesses lacking credit access in Angola. Ninety-six percent of these loans were utilized, and 38 percent went to women-led small- and medium-sized businesses.

Recently, credit access in Angola has received local support. This summer, the African Development Bank approved $100 million worth of credit to be received by Angola’s primary investment bank, Banco Angolano de Investimentos (BAI). This funding is to be focused on the development of a new facility dedicated to providing capital support for small and medium businesses involved in international trade. The timing of this deal is key, as banks in Angola have been facing difficulties of securing credit access dedicated to trade support for local businesses.           

Even as credit access in Angola has been buoyed by international and local support, it still faces significant challenges. Angola remains quite low on the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business index, which reduces the potential for foreign investment. This is only compounded by steadily declining economic growth within the nation. Clearly, Angola is presented with a long road towards inclusive credit access and economic diversification. Luckily, more and more institutions and agencies are stepping in to contribute to the cause. With this growing support, Angola now wields an ever-expanding credit-based toolkit that will aid it in weathering an ever-changing global economic climate.   

Ian Greenwood
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents AngolaHow the media misrepresents Angola, a country located in Southern Africa, can be answered in its portrayal of the country as a postwar nation infested with mines, HIV epidemic and yellow fever outbreaks.

Despite the problems, the country is at the beginning of a hopeful transition after the recent 2017 elections and many organizations have partnered up with the government to provide aid.  

Post-War Effects

In 1997, Princess Diana brought the world’s attention to the war-stricken Angola. She visited mine-infested areas in an effort to advocate their removal. Mines from about 22 countries lie under various regions in Angola now.

The civil war that lasted for 27 years took the lives of 1.5 million people. Unfortunately, the town of Cuito Cuanavale still lives with the constant reminder of those horrific days as the villagers nearby are exposed to an 18-mile area covered in active mines. 

HIV Epidemic

UNAIDS reported in 2016 that HIV remains a challenge in Angola as 130,000 adults have died as a result of it, while 90,204 people are receiving treatment for the disease. HIV is the third cause of death in Angola.

Yellow Fever Scare

In 2016 the outbreak of yellow fever, a viral disease transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, in Angola took the lives of 376 people. Angola had not seen such an outbreak in the last 30 years.

Successful Partnerships

The Halo Trust, UNAIDS and UNICEF are examples of what happens when organizations partner up with the government to create successful outcomes for its citizens. Angola has been able to recover from a history of debilitating conflicts because of these partnerships.

  • The Halo Trust

Angola aims to eliminate all its mines by 2025 and The Halo Trust, a humanitarian organization that was created in 1988, is helping them achieve it.

Thanks to their efforts, Huambo province will soon be a mine-free area. The organization has already eliminated a total of 95,000 landmines in Angola.

It uses drone technology to research areas that cannot be accessed due to active mines and help map out the affected rural regions.

Cutato village is a successful example of its efforts as people now have access to schools and clinics. They are even able to do simple housework such as washing clothes in the river as the area is mine-free.

They also receive help from the US Department of State, that has given about 124 million dollars in aid to clear the postwar areas of Angola since 1993.

  • United Nations HIV Aid

Another fact about how the media misrepresents Angola is the stigma of HIV that Africa carries in the global scenario.

However, UNAIDS, a UN partner organization that leads the HIV battle in African countries is changing that. In Angola, where 260,000 adults live with HIV, education is the only way to decrease the number of HIV cases.

The youth in Angola are sexually active as early as 15 years old, however, only 51 percent of males know that the use of condoms prevents HIV spread.

For this reason, a comprehensive sexuality education program was implemented in schools and communities in Angola to raise awareness of HIV prevention. 3,000 teachers have been trained to reach out to Angolans with UNAIDS funds so far.

UNAIDS also has a 30 million dollar HIV grant for the years 2017 and 2018 to keep working in the fight against AIDS in Angola.

  • UNICEF’s Yellow Fever Action Plan

“While many children cry when they receive the vaccine, Isabel grins from ear to ear,” reported UNICEF from the town of Cacuso when the 10-year-old girl rejoiced at getting her yellow fever vaccine in 2016.

The International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision for Yellow Fever Control partnered up with UNICEF and provided 20 million vaccines to fight Angola’s yellow fever outbreak in 2016.

The numbers keep getting better as 16 million people out of a population of 25 million people in Angola are now protected against yellow fever. Communication is the key to the success of this type of program as UNICEF trained 3,000 people to educate communities about the viral disease.

 

Despite the long period of wars that hindered the country’s growth for decades, now it is the time for doable action plans to change how the media represents Angola.

Angola has a slow recovery ahead from its devastating civil war but the future is bright if its leaders put in the same amount of effort as these organizations to address its challenges.

– Nijessia Cerqueira
Photo: Google

Education and Literacy in Angola
For 27 years—from the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1975 until 2002—civil war plagued Angola. Over a quarter century of war left the nation’s infrastructure in ruins, and the education system was no exception. Innumerable school buildings had been destroyed, and the population was largely destitute of the professionals and educators necessary to reboot an education system.

As such, it has been a struggle to rebuild the education system in Angola, but great strides are being made. At the end of the civil war, 72 percent of youths ages 15 to 24 were literate (83 percent of males and 63 percent of females). By 2014, that number had risen to 77 percent (with 85 percent of males and 71 percent of females being literate). The number of children attending school in 2002 was roughly two million. By 2013, attendance had tripled, with around six million students enrolled.

What accounts for this progress? And what challenges still lie ahead for Angola?

Improvements and Successes: What’s Working

Achieving universal basic education is one of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. After the end of the civil war, Angola’s Ministry of Education, in conjunction with UNESCO, developed a National Strategy on Literacy and School Recovery aimed at rebuilding the nation’s destroyed education system and spreading literacy throughout Angola. The national strategy is focused on mobilizing the efforts of various local, national and international NGOs, nonprofits and volunteer organizations to act as a single united front aimed at improving education and literacy in Angola.

In recent years, UNICEF has begun an initiative in Angola to digitally collect data on education, the state of schools and regions where schools are lacking. UNICEF plans to use this data to address issues with education and literacy in Angola scientifically. By mapping where schools are performing well and where schools are not (or are not in existence), UNICEF hopes it can direct resources to the right places.

Continued Challenges to Education and Literacy in Angola

Despite the civil war having ended more than 15 years ago, Angola is still facing—and will continue to face—challenges in its education system that date back to these years of violence. Primary education in Angola is compulsory and free for four years for children between the ages of 7 and 11, but the government estimates that approximately two million children are not attending school.

In areas where classrooms were completely demolished during the war and have not yet been rebuilt, classes typically are held outside and often must be canceled due to bad weather. Where classrooms do exist, they tend to be overcrowded and undersupplied, with outdated or insufficient books and pencils as well as not enough desks and chairs.

The government continues to work to alleviate these problems. Between 2016 and 2017, Angola opened 200 new schools, and numerous humanitarian organizations, including UNICEF, Inda Cares and Develop Africa, work to collect and send donated school supplies to Angola. UNICEF’s digital data collection is also of use here, as the organization hopes this data will help track both where help is most needed and the long-term impact of sending school supplies.

Furthermore, 27 years of fighting took a toll on the state of professionals in Angola.  The Angolan government employs roughly 17,000 teachers. Of these, it is estimated that 40 percent are underqualified for their positions. Today, less than 0.7 percent of Angola’s population attends universities; a lack of higher education perpetuates the teacher shortage problem. Additionally, the Angolan government estimates that an additional 200,000 teachers are needed in order to enroll all children in schools with appropriately sized classrooms. Finances as well as a lack of educated professionals prevent the government from hiring these needed teachers.

Looking Forward

Since the end of its civil war, Angola has made tremendous strides in bettering its education system and moving towards achieving universal primary education for all. But challenges still exist for the sub-Saharan African nation, where a lack of infrastructure, school supplies and educated professionals continue to impact the education of Angolan students. However, the commitment to improving education and literacy in Angola—seen in both the Angolan government and international organizations like UNICEF—offers hope that progress will continue to be made and that literacy and school attendance rates will continue to improve.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr

girls’ education in AngolaYoung women in Angola are becoming more empowered than ever due to the nation’s efforts to increase child education. This rise in female independence and enfranchisement is also due to significant efforts to change the nation’s culture regarding gender roles.

Improvements in Girls’ Education in Angola

Primary education is free in nearly every African country, including Angola. This has caused a drastic increase in the number of children enrolled in school, with Angola having one of the highest improvement rates.

Particularly, the number of young girls enrolled in schools has soared to a number that more than doubles the total of 10 years ago. Between the years 2000 and 2011, there was an increase in girls’ education in Angola from 35 percent to 78 percent.

Additionally, the overall literacy rate for girls in Angola from the ages of 15 to 24 rose from 63 percent to 71 percent from 2001 to 2014. The primary school completion rate for girls in Angola has increased from 40 percent in 2011 to 54 percent in 2014.

Improving Gender Issues in Education

One of the ways in which girls’ education in Angola has been able to see such dramatic improvements is through the efforts of the nation to address gender issues in the classroom. This is also done by reaching out to those with authority and influence over families, who can thus help end restrictive ideas about women’s rights.

Since 2002, a total of 20,000 teachers in Angola have taken part in the “Back to School” campaign, a movement supported by UNICEF. This movement aims to train teachers in how to make their classrooms more sensitive to gender-based disparities. Teachers enroll in a five-year training program that educates them on the causes and solutions for inequalities in female versus male education rates.

One of the issues this movement faces is that oftentimes, when girls attend school, they will soon after drop out due to pressures from members of their communities. The traditional gender role for women in Angola is to be domestic wives and mothers and these pressures often prevent families from allowing their daughters to be educated.

It is common for parents to feel that educating their daughters is a waste of time and resources. There is a societal perspective that if a daughter’s fate is to marry, become a mother and run a household, why send her away to school when she could be learning domestic skills?

Changing the Role of Women

In order to change this perspective, Angolan teachers aim to mobilize those members of the community that parents trust, namely religious leaders and members of the traditional and various ethnic communities. By gaining the support of those that parents view as authority figures, the culture around girls’ education in Angola begins to shift from one of wastefulness to one of independence and progress.

The “Back to School” campaign, along with various independent advocacy efforts, work toward teaching young girls that there is no shame in breaking away from the gender roles that they have been taught to accept. Angolan teachers are shown how to make the classroom a place where young girls not only feel invited but encouraged to participate and learn.

Through the efforts of organizations and communities around the nation, young Angolan girls are no longer left with only one option for their lives and futures. Rather, they can become empowered to cultivate new, intellectual skills that will allow them to forge their own path in life based on their own personal choices.

– Theresa Marino
Photo: Flickr

Reduce Malnutrition in AngolaThe first 1,000 days in a child’s life are crucial to their nutritional development throughout life. Children lacking nutrition experience growth stunts, muscle loss, communicable diseases, inability to keep up with school work and weight gain as they age. Unfortunately, quality nutrition is hard to find in Central Africa. If left unaddressed, an intergenerational cycle of poor nutrition, illness and poverty can continue. Some organizations, however, are teaming up to reduce malnutrition in Angola.

Organizations Partnering Up

Angola is among the top 40 most poverty-stricken countries in the world. Basic causes of malnutrition include limited access to resources such as land, education, income, and technology. Food uncertainty, unstable home environments and lack of health services are also challenges for healthy nutrition. 

While malnutrition in Angola might seem grim, several organizations are collaborating around the world with Sub-Saharan Africa to help reduce malnutrition in Angola:

  1. The U.N. Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
  2. National Directorate of Public Health
  3. World Health Organization
  4. Global Alliance for Vaccines
  5. World Food Programme
  6. Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN)

While Angola has not officially partnered with SUN yet, it is hopefully only a matter of time, as this organization is a recent country-led global movement to end stunting and other forms of malnutrition.

The Goal: Reduce Malnutrition in Angola

Some of the programming efforts include building and maintaining Special Nutrition Therapeutic Centres, which screen for nutritional deficiencies and other related health issues. They provide essential medications including vitamins, ready to use therapeutic food, and provide household visits to monitor the sustainability of food within families. Other programs include WASH, which promotes safe and appropriate sanitation and hygiene efforts. Construction of pumps, wells and restrooms for waste have also been ground targets for improvement. Health promotion teams have partnered to provide inpatient and outpatient services to help screen and vaccinate for diseases, as well as train for disease prevention and household practices to keep families healthy.

Interventions specific to nutrition in order to reduce malnutrition in Angola directly work with mothers, youth and infants. Most interventions focus on preventing low birth weight, providing complimentary feed or formulas that better meet the nutritional needs of the child, treating of micronutrient deficiencies, practicing good sanitation and accessing clean drinking water. Other supporting initiatives have been encouraged through legislation, health systems, community-based counseling and support. Counseling and community-based approaches in conjunction with other health and wellness strategies work to screen for acute malnutrition, deworming and delivering vitamins and supplements that holistically promote healthier development. 

Improvements for the Future

Future developmental goals are to continue partnerships and programming with various organizations. Most of the programming partnerships have occurred between 2000-2016 and allowed 1.9 billion children around the world to be vaccinated (3 million children in Angola). Currently, the government is working to increase social services, such as birth certificates, available to Angola citizens in order to recognize the identity and age of a child for better protection.

By 2019 it is projected that vulnerable women and children in Angola will have less illness and disease. Cases of diarrhea will be treated with oral rehydration using salt and zinc, children between 6 months and 5 years old will have access to 2 annual doses of Vitamin A supplements, more restroom facilities will be available and there will be reduced open-defecation in communities. It is projected that 80 percent of children under 18 years old will have a birth certificate. More than 40,000 vulnerable families will have access to social assistance transfer programs.

As of May, the government in Angola is meeting to monitor social programs and continue developing initiatives for quality education. However, currently 37 percent still live in poverty and 54 percent are under the age of 18. Efforts are still needed to reduce malnutrition in Angola.

– Ashley Cooper
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to AngolaAngola is a country in southern Africa sandwiched between three nations: Namibia, the Congo and Zambia. The United States established diplomatic relations with Angola in 1993, shortly after Angola’s independence from Portugal in 1975. Between 1975 and 1993, Angola witnessed 27 years of violent civil wars among many groups with the backing of various world powers including the United States, the Soviet Union, China and other countries in Africa.

Angola continues to see repercussions from decades of war in the region. Roughly two-thirds of Angola’s citizens live in poverty, and much of Angola’s infrastructure has been destroyed by civil conflicts, war and lack of maintenance. The civil unrest in the region is also exacerbated by Angola’s possession of large oil reserves and a strong military force, creating a strong incentive for power struggles and polarizing forces in the region.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Angola include providing food and food security, promoting democratic practices, providing disaster relief, providing better and more widely available health care and fighting the spread of disease in Angola. As well as these humanitarian efforts, the United States supports Angola in its efforts to utilize its agricultural abilities and sell oil reserves on the open market.

U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Angola have been in place since 1989 when the United States began providing large-scale disaster relief and humanitarian aid in the form of consumable material goods. In 1992, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) began a relief and assistance program for Angola in the hopes that it would help prevent the region from falling back into the grips of civil conflict.

Unfortunately, the fighting did not stop and aid was suspended until 1995 when U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Angola resumed with millions being dispersed toward the rehabilitation of the agricultural sector and displaced children/orphans in the region. Much of the U.S. foreign aid dispersed during times of conflict in the area was provided in the form of material goods such as medical supplies and food, helping stabilize conditions and promote health and humanitarian causes.

Since the beginning of more peaceful times in Angola, U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Angola have provided over $1 billion in aid to programs directly helping the people of Angola. The year 2011 marked the 15-year anniversary of the full-time presence of USAID assistance programs in Angola, helping citizens rebuild and promote health standards in the country.

While aid dollars for humanitarian efforts have been successful in the region, it is important to remember that the primary U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Angola are to support leaders and governments that wish to take Angola down the road to a peaceful future. These aid dollars fund programs in Angola to increase credit access to citizens and governmental bodies, create fair and healthy economic conditions for trade and business expansion and create land registration systems to help prevent turf wars and property theft.

With the help of U.S. foreign aid dollars, Angola has made progress in installing leaders with a more peaceful vision for the future and a willingness to improve socioeconomic conditions for its citizens. The United States hopes to help Angola in its efforts to become the economic powerhouse it has the potential to be. With the help of programs like USAID, Angola has the potential to improve conditions not only for itself but the rest of Africa. With its agricultural and natural resources, Angola could prove itself to be one of Africa’s largest economic breadwinners.

– Dalton Westfall

Photo: Wikimedia Commons