Charities in AngolaAngola is currently one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and the second-largest oil producer in Africa. Despite its eye-catching profile, many challenges plague this sub-Saharan country, from severe humanitarian crises to serious human rights abuses. The country is also struggling to recover from the ruins left behind by a 27-year civil war. Angola’s dark years might not be over yet, but the country is moving in the right direction. A part of this positive momentum is driven by charities operating in Angola. These charities have brought hope, support and development to several marginalized and neglected groups in the country. Here are five charities transforming the lives of Angolans:

RISE International

RISE International was formerly called the African Refugee Committee (ARC). Founded in 2001, ARC started as a nonprofit organization that provided relief and support to people displaced by the Angolan civil war. In 2003, a year after the war ended, ARC changed its name to RISE International.

While RISE continued to provide relief to refugees, it added a new plan: rebuilding Angola by bridging the country’s education gap. RISE builds schools for children in rural areas that receive little to no attention from the Angolan Ministry of Education. Since its inception, the charity has provided education to over 140,000 Angolan children and built 194 schools, with several more underway.

Hope For Our Sisters (HFOS)

Hope For Our Sisters (HFOS) is an advocacy group for women’s health focusing on maternal care. The organization is working to eradicate fistula in Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Nepal.

Various factors can cause fistula depending on its type. This charity mainly focuses on obstetric fistula, caused by prolonged or obstructed labor and traumatic fistula, resulting from sexual violence and trauma. Women suffering from fistula are often abandoned by their loved ones and ostracized from their communities.

HFOS partners with other charities and organizations in Angola to provide rehabilitation, aftercare and empowerment for these shunned women. They also sponsor awareness campaigns to prevent the occurrence of the disease and provide treatments, including repair surgery.

It currently has two ongoing projects in Angola: the Ultrasound Empowerment Program and the Aftercare Program. The Ultrasound Empowerment Program helped 151 and another set of 50 women have been empowered to generate income through the Aftercare program.

Mothers2mothers

Mothers2mothers is an award-winning charity that operates in several sub-Saharan countries. Driven by its commitment to eradicating AIDS and maternal and child deaths, the charity started working in Angola in 2019. Since then, it has partnered with the country’s government and the Ministry of Health to offer aid to more than 10,000 Angolans, as of December 2022.

The charity uses its innovative Mentor Mother Model in local communities to administer HIV tests and treatments to those who need them. This model involves selecting women trusted by their communities and training them to administer necessary medical care. Its efforts have also resulted in the virtual elimination of mother-child transmission of HIV among its beneficiaries.

World Vision International

World Vision is a global leader in humanitarian aid. Created in 1950, the charity’s mission was inspired by a homeless Chinese girl helped by Bob Pierce, its founder. Pierce got the idea to seek a permanent solution to poverty. That idea birthed the World Vision.

Today, the charity has helped over 200 million children escape poverty in over 100 countries worldwide. One of those countries is Angola. World Vision began operating in the sub-Saharan nation in 1989. Its Angola mandate is to improve food security, provide access to water and sanitation services and offer better education opportunities to disadvantaged children.

Every year, about 1 million people in Angola benefit from the charity’s programs each year.

UNICEF

UNICEF’s interventions in Angola have had profound and widespread outcomes over the years. In 2022 alone, the charity reached 214,449 people with clean and safe water and vaccinated over 270,000 children against measles, polio and acute diarrhea. And the list goes on.

Despite its huge success, UNICEF’s humanitarian impact in the sub-Saharan country remains limited due to inadequate funding. The organization currently needs $33 million to cater to the humanitarian needs of 1.5 million Angolans.

Providing a Brighter Future

These five charities operating in Angola have achieved commendable results. The commitment and actions of the nonprofits have helped to revive core sectors of Angola’s economy, including health care, agriculture and education. With more children in schools, Angola can envision a brighter economic future with fewer woes. Thanks to some of these charities, thousands of Angolan women are healthier and safer and can provide for their families and children.

– Amarachi Orjiude
Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Angola
According to USAID, “nearly half the population of Angola (49.3%) lacks access to clean drinking water and (54.7%) of households do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities.” As a result, many Angolans face a high risk of exposure to waterborne illnesses, further burdening the nation’s existing health care infrastructure, worsening malnutrition and negatively impacting the economy.

Moreover, the southern regions of Angola are currently experiencing a prolonged drought, which has gravely impacted the nation’s health, sanitation, water access and also education services. More than 1.2 million Angolans face water scarcity due to the drought. In the Cunene province, the drought has caused “serious disruptions” to school access for nearly 70% of students.

Impacts on Public Health

The lack of access to sanitation and clean water has had devastating consequences for public health and children are the most vulnerable demographic. In Angola, half of the children under 5 are anemic, while another third are estimated to have stunted growth and one-fifth are underweight.

Diarrheal diseases that originate from contaminated drinking water, including cholera, are a leading cause of death in Angola. In 2018, UNICEF reported 1,038 suspected cases of cholera and 17 deaths in the Angolan cities of Uige, Cabina and Luanda.

The World Bank’s Plans to Improve Angola’s Water Quality

Despite the scale of this issue, agencies like the World Bank are taking important measures alongside Angola’s government to improve water quality, in hopes of achieving universal access to WASH services by 2030. Between 2013 and 2016, Angola’s government created 16 provincial water and sanitation utilities aimed at improving water access in urban areas by utilizing independent service providers. In May 2021, Angola’s Ministry of Energy and Water launched a new reform program for the WASH sector.

The World Bank, through this reform program, is evaluating the progress of the Ministry’s working groups, looking at five key opportunities for improvement. These indicators include the significant population growth in Angola that has slowed WASH sector progress, the high rate of susceptibility by poor and malnourished children to WASH-related diarrheal diseases and mortality, the ways in which Angola can invest more effectively in the WASH sector, insufficient institutional and bureaucratic resources to achieve success and inadequate data on the effectiveness of WASH sector improvements.

UNICEF’s Efforts to Aid Angola

In addition, UNICEF is leading an initiative to support Angola by establishing child-centered hubs, known as “safe havens” that support vulnerable communities by concentrating integrated health, sanitation and water services within the same communities. Projections have indicated that these interventions will assist an estimated 341,565 children.

These efforts, which the U.N. Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) funded, also encompass a supply of 30 5,000-liter water tanks that will end up in drought-affected communities in Cunene province. These tanks will reduce the distances community members travel to acquire water.

UNICEF’s initiative will assist 96,000 women in regions that the nation’s severe drought affected, and projections have stated that 135,000 people will receive WASH sector assistance. Additionally, the initiative will see a shipment of around 12 tonnes of therapeutic milk (used to treat severe acute malnutrition in children) and tablets for water purification delivered to the Cunene and Huila provinces. This relief package is a critical step forward in reducing malnutrition in Angola.

Looking Towards a Brighter Future

The efforts to improve access to water and sanitation in Angola will have transformative effects on not only public health but also education and economic development. Having access to clean water and adequate sanitation greatly reduces children’s risk of contracting waterborne illnesses, allowing them to stay in school. Improving hygiene and sanitation in Angolan communities and schools will spur greater social development, and in turn, reduce poverty.

– Oliver De Jonghe
Photo: Flickr

Angolas Drought
The drought in Angola is the worst the country has seen in four decades. Angola’s drought has initiated widespread food shortages and hunger among Angolans, touching as many as 1.3 million people in late September 2021. The World Food Programme (WFP) has recognized the dangers of the drought and its impact on Angola. As a result, it has begun to provide
nutrition support in the country.

 

The Drought in South-West Angola


Angola’s rainy season typically occurs from
November through April. The remaining months of the year are the “colder” season, and rainfall dwindles during that time. However, during the 2020-2021 rainy season, fewer than 100 millimeters of rain fell per month. 


Based on averages from previous years, the predicted rainfall shows little to no rain predicted in December, which was often one of the months to receive the most rain in Angola. The Cunene, Huila and Namibe provinces have been bearing the brunt of Angola’s drought’s impacts. Climate experts have predicted that Angola’s drought will persist, and it already began impacting the agricultural and livestock sectors in Angola
 in April 2021


The Impact of Drought in Angola


Angola’s drought has caused a loss of up to
40% of agricultural output. Most of the farms in Angola are small, communal farms designed to serve communities. The farms typically produce vegetables and fruits, such as cassava, bananas, potatoes, maize, sweet potatoes, citrus and pineapples. All these crops require low-to-medium levels of water, which under normal conditions, is not an issue.

The drought has increased food insecurity across Angola. The diminished crops and livestock have left more than 100,000 children under the age of 5 years old hungry. The number could increase over the next year.

Many in the workforce work in the agricultural sector, accounting for more than half of the labor force at approximately 50.2%. The lowest pay for an agricultural worker in Angola is 66,100 AOA, roughly $110 USD per month. 

Many live in extreme poverty in Angola. With the low agricultural output, farmers are often unable to earn wages. As a result, poverty, which reached 88.5% in 2018, could rise further by the close of 2021. 


The World Food Programme’s Assistance


Angola’s drought has brought distinct challenges to the country, but even though the situation seems dire, the World Food Programme (WFP) has outlined plans to provide resources to the country, such as food and nutrition support.
The WFP will likely set up food distribution centers. Additionally, the organization has analyzed the regions that the drought most impacted in order to organize relief efforts. 


When Angola’s drought began, the WFP saw that its assistance would be necessary and initially collaborated with schools to provide food and nutrition to children, easing the burden for parents. However, the issue of food has extended beyond school. In fact, almost daily, children in Angola struggle to secure food. 


The WFP is working with the officials representing the
Angolan provinces to expand nutrition activities and outreach to maximize the effectiveness of their work. The WFP is a branch of the United Nations (U.N.), serving as the world’s largest aid relief organization. With funding from the U.N., WFP plans to secure $6.3 million to pay for the services and supplies to assist Angola.


The WFP’s aid will not undergo strict coordination and organization by WFP alone. The assistance will help Angola’s government regulate food security and nutrition mechanisms within each province to limit the
necessity of WFP’s assistance later.


The WFP’s work in response to
Angola’s drought will help the Angolan government build resilience and hopefully become less reliant on aid from organizations, such as the WFP.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

Mobile Money Services in Angola
Today, millions of people in the world face barriers in obtaining bank accounts from traditional financial institutions. Consequently, many have to turn to alternative sources to manage their finances. For many, mobile money services provide an ideal solution. Mobile money services enable people to withdraw, deposit and transfer money without a bank account. Today, Africa holds more than 55% of the world’s total mobile money services. In 2020, people from sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 43% of all new mobile money service accounts. Mobile money services break down barriers to access and the efficiency leads to more people using mobile money services. Mobile money services in Angola hope to encourage economic growth in the country and promote financial inclusivity.

Poverty in Angola

Angola stands as one of the most impoverished countries in the entire world. The World Bank Group reports that 32% of the entire population lives below the poverty line, with poverty affecting 18% of the urban population and 54% of the rural population. Furthermore, the unemployment rate in Angola is a stunning 31.6%. In addition, the country ranks 142 out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index.

People mainly attribute these shocking statistics to government corruption and also the fact that the country is still recovering from its civil war, which ended slightly less than 20 years ago. Angola is the second-largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa, producing nearly 1.37 million barrels of oil every day. Additionally, crude oil comprised about 88.% of exports in 2020. Angola has never attempted to diversify its economy away from oil to other products, which leaves its economy drastically fluctuating in an extremely volatile oil market.

Corruption is prevalent within the higher levels of government in Angola. Since oil is such a large part of Angola’s economy, politicians and the few elites in Angola reap the benefits. This is evidenced in the country’s Gini index score of 0.55, meaning income inequality in Angola is rampant. Nearly “20% of the population with the highest incomes receive 59% of all incomes,” yet the most impoverished 20% obtain only 3%.

In addition, the Angolan Civil War caused massive devastation in the country. Nearly 1 million people died in the conflict, and it caused massive damage to public infrastructure, including healthcare, schools, roads and bridges. This has caused rampant poverty, food insecurity, unsafe water consumption and inequality in education.

UNITEL Money

With Huawei’s technological support, “Angola-based mobile operator” UNITEL has created a mobile money service that allows users to make deposits, withdrawals, transfers and payments via mobile phone. Users of this service do not require a bank account. These mobile money services in Angola will be available in all 18 Angolan provinces.

UNITEL and Huawei have been working together over the past couple of years to use Huawei’s technology to develop UNITEL Money, which launched in August 2021. UNITEL aims to reach at least 3 million Angolan citizens through UNITEL Money. Nearly 14 million people in the country have access to a cellphone and 7 million Angolans have access to the internet. UNITEL Money will have a potentially strong customer base from which consumers will also benefit, given the poor financial state of many in the country.

The company says it plans to use its 6,000 contracted agents and 20,000 sub-contracted agents to ensure the success of UNITEL Money. People can make deposits, withdrawals and transfers with UNITEL Money at any UNITEL Money Store or using an agent, in a network of hundreds of branches throughout the country. With the help of agents, a UNITEL customer will be able to immediately and instantly send money to another customer to collect at a UNITEL agent closest to their location.

Over time, UNITEL says it plans to increase the functionality of its Mobile Payments system as well. Overall, UNITEL Money may potentially serve as a useful tool for those experiencing financial barriers in Angola, particularly unbanked people without access to traditional banking services and financial resources. Mobile money services in Angola will bring about financial inclusivity for marginalized and impoverished Angolans while igniting economic activity through ease of access.

– Matthew Port Louis
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in AngolaThe catalyzation of food insecurity is causing around 6 million people to fall into hunger in Angola, according to UNICEF. The number of people going hungry in Angola, however, continues to rise due to the most severe drought since 1981 in conjunction with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The spread of droughts, especially in Southern Angola, caused the death of 1 million cattle. This created surges of poor malnutrition and severe illnesses. Despite this, hope exists for those suffering from hunger in Angola.

Drought

The severe drought in Angola has continued spreading for almost three years now, traumatically affecting hunger in Angola. Crop production has decreased by nearly 40%, forcing more families into poverty. The drought has, within only three months in Cunene, Angola, tripled levels of food insecurity. The growing scarcity of food and heightening hunger of Angolans is pushing them to seek refuge in proximate countries such as Namibia.

Pedro Henrique Kassesso, a 112-year-old man, can attest that this three-year-long drought has been the worst he has ever experienced in Angola. The drought has affected almost 500,000 children. Not only has food insecurity heightened, but school dropout rates have risen due to increasing socioeconomic troubles. Hunger in Angola has forced children to put aside their education to support their families in collecting food and water.

Longing for Land

Former Angolan communal farmers are longing to get land back from commercial cattle farmers. According to Amnesty International, the Angolan government gives the land to commercial cattle farmers. Commercial cattle farmers have taken 67% of the land in Gambos, Angola. The battle for land has exasperated the hunger levels of communal Angolan citizens who have been reliant on their land and livestock for survival. The combination of loss of land and drought equates to millions of Angolan citizens ending up in poverty.

Despite the drought and rising food insecurity in Angola, people from neighboring countries are seeking refuge in this nation. As of 2017, 36,000 people have undergone displacement from the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and found refuge in Angola. Because of asylum seekers and refugees fleeing to Angola, the nation’s population is rapidly growing. Angola’s population is growing by 1 million people every year, according to the World Population Review. As a host country to asylum seekers, battles for land, ongoing drought and rapid population growth, more people are succumbing to poverty and hunger in Angola.

Hope on the Horizon

Despite the surging levels of food insecurity in Angola, hope is rising on the horizon. In fact, the government of Japan donated $1 million toward United Nations agencies that serve to uplift Angolan citizens who have succumbed to poverty especially due to the drought and the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy of Angola. The donation from Japan, along with the funds raised to end hunger in Angola by the World Health Organization (WHO) and World Food Programme (WFP) projects to at last tackle the issue of malnutrition and hunger in Angola.

– Nora Zaim-Sassi
Photo: Flickr

Women in AngolaAccording to the World Bank, Angola has a ranking of 0.36 on the Human Capital Index, which is below the sub-Saharan average. This means that the earning potential of a child born in Angola today is 36% of what it “could have been with complete education and full health.” Research indicates that girls and women are often disproportionately affected by poverty. In April 2021, the World Bank agreed to a $250 million Investment Project Financing in order to support Angola. This project aims to empower girls and women in Angola and address educational poverty in order to increase Angola’s human capital.

Women and Poverty in Angola

Data indicates that more than 30% of Angolan women were married or in a union before the age of 18. Furthermore, in 2016, for women 15-49 years old, almost 26% reported violence by a current or previous intimate partner within the last year. In addition, less than half of impoverished women older than 15 are employed. Moreover, 4.8% more adult women than men are severely food insecure. While women have made some strides in politics, making up nearly 30% of the seats in national parliament, less than 30% of women hold managerial positions. The contribution made by the World Bank will assist Angola to rectify the gender disparities between male and female citizens and empower girls and women to rise out of poverty.

Action From Angola

The National Development Plan that Angola implemented in 2015 set out to ensure equality between men and women in economic, social, cultural and political aspects. Further, the primary goals of the plan focused on addressing occupational segregation and rectifying the lack of representation of women in positions of power. So far, several national campaigns have been launched to promote gender equality and women’s rights. These campaigns include violence prevention and breaking down misogynistic traditions like child marriages.

Angola also implemented several policies to achieve gender equality and empower women. The National Development Plan 2018-2022 continues these commitments, with a significant focus on raising awareness of the importance of gender equality and preventing gender-based violence. The support of the World Bank will help to further the work that has already begun.

The World Bank strongly believes in keeping young girls in school. The organization supports the empowerment of young women to improve health conditions and end cycles of poverty. By ensuring the education of girls, the likelihood of child marriages and adolescent pregnancies reduces. This is a critical goal during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many schools to shut down and accelerated the dropout rates of young girls.

Components of the Project

The project consists of three components. The first aspect centers on improving sexual and reproductive health services and increasing community knowledge in this regard in order to encourage the use of these services. The second component will finance 3,000 new classrooms and offer support “to improve teaching and learning outcomes.” Finally, the last component relates to “efficient monitoring and management of the project and supports research to inform education policy development.”

One of the keys to the success of any major project is proper financing and the World Bank has just helped Angola take a critical step in the right direction. The $250 million worth of financing will improve the lives of many women in Angola by focusing on education and empowerment.

Samantha Fazio
Photo: Flickr

Formative SupervisionWith a population of about 30 million, many Angolans do not have access to adequate healthcare. The limited access to quality healthcare is due to decreased funding due to the Angolan Government’s budget restrictions. The lack of funding affects the quality of public healthcare which people can receive at no cost. The public healthcare sector in Angola does not have enough healthcare providers with proper training and resources. The lack of resources in healthcare reflects in the low ratio of about one health center per 25,000 people and more than 50% of people are without access to healthcare services. In recent years, USAID’s Health for All project, using the Health Network Quality Improvement System (HNQIS), has implemented formative supervision in Angola. Implementing formative supervision in Angola has shown to improve the quality of healthcare by increasing the number of healthcare providers with proper training.

USAID’s Health for All Project

USAID’s Health for All program is a five-year project that began in 2017. It works with the Angolan Government to help improve the quality and access to healthcare in the country. The project’s focus is on addressing the issues of malaria and reproductive health since those are two of the main health concerns affecting the people of Angola. With the current funding being at $63 million, the program has been able to train 1,489 health professionals on how to diagnose and treat malaria and created reproductive health services in 42 health facilities.

The program’s use of formative supervision in Angola has helped in educating and providing healthcare workers with the necessary tools to effectively care for patients. The Health Network Quality Improvement System is the main tool that USAID uses to help improve the quality of healthcare because the system is used to evaluate the performance of individual healthcare providers. By tracking the performance of the healthcare providers in Angola, USAID can more easily determine which areas of the healthcare system need improvement. Under the Health for All program, USAID has been using formative supervision with healthcare providers who specifically tend to cases of malaria and reproductive health.

The Benefits of Formative Supervision

From October 2019 to March 2020, the Health for All project recorded improvements in the quality of healthcare through the use of formative supervision in 276 out of 360 Angolan health facilities with prenatal services. In addition to tracking the performance in maternal and reproductive health, the supervision has also helped in finding the areas in which the management of malaria has been lacking. There are now about 1,026 health providers that have been properly trained in managing malaria cases as a result of the project. This has in turn indirectly improved the quality of care regarding maternity since malaria causes 25% of maternal deaths in Angola.

Besides increasing the amount of funding that goes toward healthcare, the Health for All project has used such funding to be more interactive with healthcare facilities through the use of formative supervision in Angola. Formative supervision has shown to drastically improve the quality of care in the areas of malaria and reproductive health as supervision allows trained health officials to identify and fix integral issues pertaining to healthcare in Angola.

Zahlea Martin
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in AngolaA whole 54% of Angola’s population of 30 million are multidimensionally poor or suffering from multiple deprivations in four categories: health, education, quality of life and employment. Angolan children under the age of 10 experience even more pronounced poverty and 90% of rural Angolan populations are multidimensionally poor. The overall poverty rate is 41% and the rural poverty rate at 57% is nearly double that of urban areas. Poverty in Angola is a significant issue especially within the context of the rural-urban divide.

The Rural-Urban Divide

In rural areas, Angolans are less likely to be employed and those who do work are mostly in subsistence agriculture. They also have fewer assets and cannot afford “luxuries” like attending school. Additionally, people in rural areas are more likely to be sick or to die early than those in urban settings.

In urban areas, 44% of households are employed and the majority of the rest are involved in informal economic roles like craftsmen, street vendors or informal shop owners. Despite access to employment, labor conditions are poor and incomes fluctuate. This means that people in rural areas are overall more destitute but they actually have a more predictable situation and at least have access to enough basic food and water to survive, while those in urban settings can experience periods of serious shortages.

Overall, poverty in Angola is multifaceted. In rural areas, it is materially severe but there are stronger safety nets in the form of access to land and agriculture. Urban poverty is less materially severe, with better access to employment and social goods, but people are more vulnerable to sudden shocks. The issue is not that only rural Angolans suffer from poverty but that the country at large is suffering and in need of a comprehensive plan to address all the different aspects of poverty in Angola.

World Vision International

World Vision has operated in Angola since 1989 to aid sustainable development in vulnerable areas, focusing on child protection, land ownership and health services. Overall, it has increased access to clean water for more than 50,000 Angolans and improved the health status of more than 1.5 million Angolan children and 25,000 Angolan mothers in rural areas, through increased access to health care and health education. World Vision helps approximately one million Angolans each year through its efforts at improving access to water and sanitation, strengthening civil society and social protection systems, improving educational access and aiding economic development through land ownership.

UNICEF

Larger NGOs like UNICEF have also addressed poverty in Angola. It has identified millions of people in need, especially children, and has looked to gather $15.8 million in funding to provide humanitarian assistance in the face of recent food insecurity, drought, malnutrition, economic insecurity, education issues and health crises in Angola. The organization’s goals for 2020 included screening almost 400,000 children for malnutrition, providing 150,000 children polio vaccines and providing access to primary education to 25,000 affected children. UNICEF is utilizing partnerships with Angolan government ministries, civil departments and national and international NGOs to accomplish these main goals and others, including hygiene education, increasing overall healthcare aid as well as protecting women and children.

The Road Ahead

Poverty has struck millions of people in Angola and it affects rural and urban Angolans in different ways. Despite the complexity of poverty in Angola, organizations like UNICEF and World Vision have stepped up to alleviate the pressure on Angolan families and children. While the crisis is far from solved, efforts like these provide hope for people in Angola in the face of global and regional disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic, prolonged drought and low crop yields.

– Connor Bradbury
Photo: Flickr

Examining Homelessness in AngolaForced evictions, an abundance of petroleum, wealth inequality, economic growth and slums surround the most expensive cities in Angola. Angola, a country, that rose economically after experiencing a three-decade civil war. But the fruits of that expansion have not been shared by most of the population. This can be seen when one looks at the slums surrounding the wealthiest capitals in the Sub-Saharan region. One issue that has not been investigated much is the issue of homelessness in Angola. There currently does not exist much data on the topic that the Angolan representative at the U.N. has advocated for data collection and focused study on the issue. However, it is estimated that a significant portion of the population that reside in the capital live in slums.

How Scars of War Resulted in Homelessness

The first instance of homelessness in Angola came because of the civil war between the MPLA (Soviet and Cuban-backed government) and UNITA (rebel forces backed by South African advisors as well as the United States, France, United Kingdom and China). The civil war caused the displacement of around four million internally displaced persons. Millions experienced homelessness in Angola as a result of this long bloody civil conflict. When many of these refugees came back, they encountered a difficult legal problem over land ownership. For many Angolans, buying property on the informal market is quite common, this is partly due to the absence of a clear and adequate legal structure around property rights and ownership.

Not to mention that during civil wars, warring groups tend to take over homes that once belong to others as they flee violence and those homes tend to transact between different parties and individuals using both official measures as well as informal customary methods as the civil war rages on. This caused enormous tension on issues of land claims as it was difficult to decide who owned what. Moreover, there have been cases of Angolan refugees coming home to see that the lands they used to live on were being used for commercial agricultural purposes.

Modern illnesses

One of the issues related to homelessness in Angola is the issue of evections. Today many people, mainly in the capital, are evicted from their homes by the government. As a nation rated poorly for property rights, Angola still struggles with this social phenomenon. Just this January, around 500 families were removed from their homes on a seafront in Luanda after firms were interested in acquiring the area to conduct development projects. This trend has continued in recent years and it has affected thousands of people, who were often driven out through violent means by both state and private security forces to acquire land considered valuable for residential and commercial real estate projects. Evictions are one of the ways people experience homelessness, in which the only choice afterword is living in the slums.

Many human rights NGOs, such as Amnesty International, United Nations, SOS Habitat and Human Rights Watch, have called on the government to put an end to the policy of government evictions. They have engaged in documenting the abuses as well as raising awareness about the issues. Some humanitarian organizations like SOS Habitat and NGO Association Building Communities have engaged in local advocacy by submitting complaints and petitions regarding the abuses that are happening. This has resulted in stopping the Arco Iris eviction in Luanda and has encouraged the government in rehousing some of those who have suffered from evictions.

Mustafa Ali
Photo: Flickr

Malnutrition in Angolan Children
Global poverty has a detrimental effect on health, specifically the health of children. Statistically, malnutrition impacts children the most as 3.1 million children die annually from a lack of nutrition, according to the World Hunger 2018 report. In Angola, the leading cause of children’s death is malnutrition. In the World Vision report on countries struggling with malnutrition, Angola ranks as number one among countries that have the weakest commitment to fighting malnutrition in children. This goes to show that malnutrition is a critical issue among Angolan children.

The Effects of Malnutrition

Although malnutrition includes both undernutrition and overnutrition, the majority of the focus is on undernutrition as it is a significant effect of global poverty. The leader of the Intersectional Nutrition Working Group and nutrition advisor for Médecins Sans Frontières, Dr. Kirrily de Polnay, told The Borgen Project, “The reason why we often focus more on undernutrition is that less than 20% of undernutrition children receive care.”

Undernutrition in children tends to come with other direct health issues such as vitamin deficiency, wasting, growth stunting and fetal growth issues. Undernutrition can also worsen the effects of underlying health problems and diseases. This includes children with recurrent illnesses like measles, malaria, diarrhea and other chronic diseases. As a result, malnutrition creates a higher risk for already vulnerable children.

Undernourished children in Angola have a higher risk of infection, delayed development and death. These children also tend to develop non-communicable diseases in their adult lives, creating a cycle of poor health that can also result in severe malnutrition. These effects can lead to harsher consequences later in their lives. This includes a lack of productivity, which leads to little to no economic growth and causes low incomes and generational poverty.

Malnutrition and Poverty

Poverty links to the majority of malnutrition cases in children. About 40% of Angolans live below the poverty line. This, in turn, creates a high rate of malnutrition, specifically among children who are more susceptible to the consequences of extreme poverty. Malnutrition is the main cause of child death, which Angola’s high infant mortality rate of 48 per 1,000 births reflects.

One can further break the causes of malnutrition down into food insecurity, unhealthy household conditions and inadequate health care. All of these factors lead back to the overarching problem of poverty. Moreover, the potential causes of malnutrition in children are a result of both socio-economic and political factors in Angola.

Current Plans

The number of malnourished children is currently increasing, with severe or moderate acute malnutrition in Angola affecting 85,000 children in 2019. However, even though Angola struggles with child malnutrition, the country is on track with health targets linked to malnutrition. According to the Global Nutrition Report, some of the current successes include:

  • An increase in the number of infants reaching the birth weight target by 15.3%.
  • Mothers exclusively breastfeeding about 37.4% of infants (0 to 5 months), which helps provide infants with adequate nutrients.
  • An average of 4.9% of children under 5 experience wasting in comparison to the Southern African region overall.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Organizations are helping countries like Angola with child malnutrition by directly providing care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. de Polnay’s work with MSF provides a great example of this direct help. MSF has 101 projects that include all continents except Australia where it treats malnourished children and also implements preventative programs. As a medical emergency organization, MSF mostly focuses on Africa because the region struggles the most with health. Dr. de Polnay says, “We run outpatient centers treating children with malnutrition and we also run inpatients in hospitals treating children with both malnutrition and other medical complications.” Direct aid is crucial in health care and can reduce the number of malnourished people globally.

UNICEF

UNICEF is one of the few organizations helping to decrease the effects of malnutrition among Angolan children. Some of UNICEF’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Providing training to 445 frontline health care workers in various Angolan provinces.
  • Teaching health care workers in Angola effective ways to treat severe acute malnutrition and implementing vitamin supplementation protocols.
  • Implementing mother-led mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) measurement protocols in Angola. MUAC measurements help improve screening and early identification of malnutrition in children and can reduce serious complications.
  • Continuously advocating for a secure energy response in Luanda within the Provisional Health Office.
  • Producing infant and young feeding pamphlets and counseling cards for both malnutrition and COVID-19 awareness to distribute among 49 health facilities across Luanda.
  • Helping more than 14,000 caregivers of young children (0-23 months) receive nutrition counseling and giving nutrition services to more than 57,000 children.

Prevention

Through help from organizations, Angola is able to increase the care necessary to circumvent the problem of malnutrition in children. However, more work is necessary to make a significant impact on the children facing malnutrition.

Dr. de Polnay recognizes the need for more action, specifically from decision-makers who should be more receptive and open to listening to organizations and people in areas of concern. Dr. de Polnay also extends this call to action to regular people, stating, “Writing about it, talking about it, making sure you are really informed about all the very different multifactorial causes of malnutrition is really important.”

When it comes to not only malnutrition among Angolan children but also all the other issues that stem from global poverty, it is important that people collectively help at all levels. whether that be through building awareness or giving direct aid.

– Zahlea Martin
Photo: Flickr