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 on 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 for countries that have the weakest commitment to fighting malnutrition in children. This goes to show how malnutrition is a critical issue for Angolan children, which requires more attention. Here is some information about malnutrition in 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 Intersectional Nutrition working Group and Nutrition Advisor for Medecins Sans Frontieres, Dr. Kirrily de Polnay, MBBS, MA, MSc told The Borgen Project that, “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 restrictions. 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 little to no economic growth, which causes low incomes and generational poverty.

Malnutrition and Poverty

Poverty accounts for 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 in children who are more susceptible to the consequences of extreme poverty. Malnutrition is the main cause of child death, which the high infant mortality rate reflects.

One can further break the causes of malnutrition down into food insecurity, unhealthy household conditions and inadequate health care. All of these causes tend to 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 more than 2.4 million people and severe malnutrition in Angola affecting 85,000 children since 2019. The number of people in Angola affected has doubled within the past year and expectations have determined it will increase. World Vision described the current situation regarding malnutrition as the number of hungry people can stretch across the world one and half times in southern Africa alone.

Even though Angola has a major problem with malnutrition, the country has been on track to control the current problems. According to the Global Nutrition Report, Angola is specifically targeting the maternal, infant and young child nutrition sectors of malnutrition. 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 is helping provide infants with adequate nutrients.
  • A lower average (4.9%) of children under 5-years-old experiencing wasting in comparison to the South African region.

Medecins Sans Frontieres

The way in which organizations are helping countries like Angola with child malnutrition is by directly providing care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Kirrily de Polnay provides a great example of this direct help she is a part of with Medecins Sans Frontieres. Medecins Sans Frontieres has 101 projects that include all continents except Australia where it treats malnourished children and also implements preventative activities. It mostly works in Africa where it focuses on treatment as it is a medical emergency organization. Dr. Kirrily de Polnay describes the organization’s work as: “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 regarding health care and can reduce the number of malnourished people globally.

UNICEF

UNICEF is one of the few organizations that are helping to decrease the effects of malnutrition in Angolan children. Some of what UNICEF has been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic has included:

  • 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 leading mother-led Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) measurement protocols in Angola. MUAC measurements help improve screening and early identification of malnutrition in children and 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 regarding both malnutrition and health awareness for COVID-19 and distributed them among 49 health facilities across Luanda.
  • Helping over 14,000 caregivers of young children (0-23 months) receive the necessary counseling regarding nutrition and over 57,000 children received nutrition services.

Prevention

Through the recent help it has received, Angola has shown how it 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 who malnutrition affects.

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

Overall, it is important that people collectively help at all levels from building awareness to giving direct aid when it comes to not only malnutrition in Angolan children but also all the other various issues that stem from global poverty.

– Zahlea Martin
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in Angola
Angola has struggled to recover from decades of civil war and economic turmoil, with over 40% of the population, mostly in rural areas, living in extreme poverty. However, recent innovations in poverty eradication in Angola have begun to help the once virulent nation gain stability. New technologies and funding from private companies, financial institutions and organizations have allowed Angola to modernize and combat extreme poverty. Here are three innovations in poverty eradication in Angola.

Open Data Platforms

Open data platforms are a way to gather large amounts of data, statistics and information from diverse and large groups to analyze potential problem areas. Governments and large organizations use this analysis to tackle identifiable issues head-on. For example, an investment group may notice a glaring need for communications upgrades in rural areas, which leads to the creation of jobs and infrastructure.

Open data is a recent innovation in poverty eradication in Angola and examines anything from economic growth to healthcare strategy. Through the International Monetary Fund’s Enhanced General Data Dissemination System, Angola set up its own National Summary Data Page at opendataforafrica.org in 2018. The African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) offer the NSDP to Angola for free. Using key indicators through the NSDP, the IMF and other organizations utilize this information for transparency, economic investment opportunities and identifying necessary aid in Angola, which are ways the NSDP’s data collection can reduce poverty.

South Atlantic Cable System

Angola lacks a strong telecommunications network. Rural communities suffer the most due to decreased technological abilities in farming and irrigation and emergency medical services. But a revolutionary project may help. One of the most impressive innovations in poverty eradication in Angola is the South Atlantic Cable System. Developed by the telecommunications operator, Angola Cables, this submarine communications cable provides interconnectivity between Luanda, Angola and Angonap Fortaleza, Brazil. The SACS improves the telecommunications and information technology infrastructure in Angola while connecting fast communication services throughout Africa and South America.

Although Angola is still developing its ICT sector and job growth has remained stagnant, the SACS potential is exponential. Angola could use this project to establish the country as a leader in tech in sub-Saharan Africa. This would reduce Angola’s reliance on oil exports and drive IT education to encourage entrepreneurship and competition, leading to increased IT and communications jobs and eventual ICT expansion in rural Angola to reduce poverty and improve healthcare access.

Neighboring nations that lack IT infrastructure can reach out to Angola Cables and the Angolan government, launching international funds to Angola. The SACS also makes Angola a centralized location for data in the entire southern hemisphere. The premium digital connection is unrivaled, leading to even more considerable international interest in Angola as a tech hub.

Commercial Agriculture Development Project (PDAC)

Due to the Angolan Civil War, farming in Angola suffered from a lack of development and slow regrowth due to landmines. Agriculture also suffers due to persistent and unpredictable droughts in Angola. The Commercial Agriculture Development Project received funding from the World Bank in 2018 to improve the economic condition and technology in Angola’s rural areas, providing much-needed support to the most vulnerable people in Angola to improve domestic food security. Primarily directed at improving irrigation systems and infrastructure related to the electric grid, the PDAC receives funding through 2024 and supports developers’ creative solutions to these problems.

So far, the project has granted contracts and requests in 2020 for the following:

  • Creating innovative management systems for irrigated perimeters, which help water efficiency usage during periods of drought
  • Development of financial risk tools, like risk management software and microinsurance for at-risk communities to ensure oversight of food security
  • Geospatial electrification options to create renewable energy that people can use in rural areas
  • IT tools, such as tablets, drones and tech support for better agriculture analysis
  • Multiple feasibility studies

All of these contracts and requests have happened in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with the pace slowing to handle the pandemic, the PDAC has led to several innovations in poverty eradication in Angola. Developers have maintained a healthy advancement rate since the beginning of the project, and they will continue through 2024.

Angola’s Future

With all the new technology and projects, Angola will continue to reduce extreme poverty for large portions of its population. As the nation continues to establish a commercial agriculture program and the telecommunications sector, there is a reduced reliance on oil exports. Angola can continue to diversify its economic strategy allocating its vast resources for a bright future and eliminate extreme poverty.

– Zachary Kunze
Photo: Pixnio

Healthcare in Angola
After a 40-year-long civil war that displaced one-third of Angola’s population and killed approximately 1 million people, the nation’s infrastructure was severely damaged. Following the civil war, healthcare in Angola suffered, with nearly 50% of the population living without adequate access to healthcare services.  The lack of availability of healthcare services has contributed to high mortality rates for children under 5 years of age, high incidences of mother-to-child HIV transmission as well as a high risk of contracting malaria.  Here are five facts about healthcare in Angola.

5 Facts About Healthcare in Angola

  1. Access to healthcare in Angola varies greatly depending on the region. People in more populous regions such as Maradi, Tahoua, Zinder and Tillaberi have the least access to healthcare services. Angola struggles to keep its healthcare infrastructure adequately sourced with nearly 50% of the population lacking proper healthcare services.
  2. As recently as 2018, the mortality rate for children under 5 years was approximately 77 children per 1,000 live births. Despite a high mortality rate for children under 5 years, the number of children under 5 dying each year has been steadily declining since 1980. In comparison, the neighboring countries of Zambia and Namibia had mortality rates for children under 5 years of 57 per 1,000 live births and 39 per 1,000 live births respectively in 2018. Inadequate sanitation contributes to a high mortality rate for children under 5 years in Angola. In Angola, 49.3% of people do not have access to clean drinking water and 54.7% of schools do not have adequate sanitation facilities.
  3. Angola has the second-highest incidence rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in the world. The incidence rate of mother-to-child transmission sits at 26%. During the fiscal year 2020, the CDC plans to provide support to implement the Born Free to Shine Initiative. The first lady of Angola established the Born Free to Shine Initiative with the goal of reducing the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The initiative seeks to reduce the transmission rate to 14% from 26% by 2021.
  4. Malaria is the fourth leading cause of death among people living in Angola with the entire population at risk of contracting the disease. USAID is an organization that has given aid to the region, subsequently reducing the number of malaria-related deaths in children by 42% since 2005. Community health worker training has been an integral piece in Angola’s efforts to combat malaria. In 2019, Angola trained 120 of these health workers in order to help provide treatment for malaria in areas with low access to healthcare services.
  5. The National Health Development Plan is a program that sets specific goals for Angola’s health sector. The program aims to meet its long-term goals by 2025. More specifically, the Angolan government hopes to see a reduction of 2% in the prevalence of HIV, increase access to family planning services by 39% and raise the number of doctors per 100,000 people from one to three.

Despite facing a number of challenges, government programs and aid from international agencies are improving the outlook for healthcare in Angola. Community health workers are helping to increase access to essential healthcare services in high need areas of the nation. With government plans and the implementation of initiatives, Angola is well on its way to meeting the goals that its National Health Development Plan has outlined.

– Maddi Miller
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in AngolaAngola is a country in Southern African that is home to nearly 31 million people. Of those people, at least 2.3 million of them are at high risk for extreme malnutrition. Angola experienced an El Niño from 2015 to 2017 and the impact of this phenomenon along with the 2019 drought has been long-lasting. Here are five facts about hunger in Angola.

5 Facts About Hunger in Angola

  1. Widespread drought is the central cause of hunger. A devastating drought hit Angola in 2019 that reversed much of the steady decline in hunger and malnutrition within the country. The start of 2019 marked an uptick in both Angola’s Global Hunger Index rank and prevalence of stunted children under 5 years of age. Nearly half a million people at high risk for extreme malnutrition are under the age of 5. This drought was especially harmful to Angola due to the country’s fragile state after the recent El Niño in 2017. The drought’s impact on hunger in Angola can be seen across all aspects of everyday life.
  2. Commercial cattle farming hurts local cattle farmers. As the drought took its course in Angola, thousands of kilometers of previously fertile land was rendered useless. About 40% of Angolans live in rural areas where they depend on livestock-related activities for survival, mainly cattle farming. Commercial farmers were given 2,629 square kilometers of the remaining fertile land, leaving only 33% of the fertile land for local cattle farmers. Cattle farming is the main source of income for Angolan locals; however, when the drought began, their land was taken from them without due process. One of the hardest-hit provinces was Cunene, a province of rural farmlands that commercial cattle farmers now occupy.
  3. Improper governmental land distribution reveals corruption from within. The constitution of Angola clearly states that before any of its people’s land is taken away, there must be a consultation with the government. No such consultations were made before 46 commercial cattle farmers took the Angolan land, which is a clear violation of the country’s constitution. Shortly after these unlawful land seizures, the Angolan government ratified several laws to protect the right to food and clean water for its people, although no reparations have been made to those living in Cunene. With Cunene being the second largest province for cattle farming, the seizure of communal farmland forced locals to travel long distances to other provinces for water and food they previously had access to on their land.
  4. Conditions in Angola force people to turn to new food sources. With local cattle farming being the main source of food, there is a distinct lack of food because of the drought and improper land distribution. Hunger in Angola has intensified because communal cattle grazing land has either dried up or been given to commercial farmers. This has forced people to eat wild leaves to avoid starvation. Eating wild leaves causes sickness, diarrhea and skin conditions in both adults and children. Despite many adults giving up drinking milk so their children may have it, malnutrition levels in Angolan children younger than 5 continue to increase.
  5. The fight against hunger forces education to the back burner. In a country where people fight daily to find clean water and decent food, education becomes less of a priority and more of a luxury. Children spend their days helping their parents search for clean water and food, which has led to the closure of 160 schools alone in Cunene, one of the most affected provinces. Over 70% of Angolan children have had their education disrupted due to an inability to meet their basic needs. Even when students can come to school, most of them are exhausted from their long days of searching for clean water and food: and oftentimes these searches yield few results.

Although Angola faces these pervasive issues, some organizations are working to fight for the Angolan people and their well-being. Doctors With Africa CUAMM is an NGO working to fight malnutrition specifically in mothers and children under the age of five in Cunene. They first began their work in Angola in 1997, but their “Mothers and Children First” program took off in 2012 by working to ensure safe birthing and newborn care practices. Doctors With Africa CUAMM has visited nearly 27,500 Angolan mothers and newborns in addition to building 20 health centers near Cunene. The NGO focuses on building long-term healthcare projects, training African and Italian health care providers, conducting scientific studies about health in Africa and providing educational resources about health to the general public.

In 2017, Angola requested aid to help provide resources to Congolese refugees entering Angola. The U.S. Food for Peace partnered with the U.N. World Food Program to contribute $4.5 million to their efforts in 2019. The money went toward local food distribution, to affected locals and refugees as well as monitoring the drought situation. With this money, better protection of refugees has become possible, and locally produced food has become more accessible in northern provinces. While these are helpful steps forward, a more permanent set of solutions is still needed to eliminate hunger in Angola.

– Natalie Tarbox
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Angola
Angola, the seventh-largest country in Africa, has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Since 2013, its economy has been booming and both international and domestic investments have been on the rise. Although Angola’s economy has the potential to become an economic powerhouse in Africa, the international community has become concerned with the poverty rates and overall income inequality in Angola. Despite Angola’s rapidly growing economy, it has a 26 percent unemployment rate and 36 percent of the Angolan population lives below the poverty line. The living conditions in Angola are indicative of an economy that is not yet diversified and a country with extreme income inequality. Here are 10 facts about the living conditions in Angola.

10 Facts About Living Conditions in Angola

  1. Low Life Expectancy and Causes: Angola has a very low life expectancy. The life expectancy in Angola is one of the lowest in the world, and Angola has the 12th highest number of infant mortalities every year. The leading causes of death revealed that the low life expectancy is a result of preventable causes like diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, neonatal disorders and influenza.
  2. Literacy: A third of all Angolans are illiterate. Although primary education is compulsory in Angola, 33.97 percent of Angolans are illiterate and literacy rates have been on a steady decline since 2001. Very few individuals go on to college, leaving their economy stagnated with a brain drain and a lack of available employees for white-collar jobs that require a deep understanding of their field.
  3. Clean Water Availability: Angola has a lack of clean water resources. Forty-four percent of Angolans do not have access to clean water, according to the United Nations Children’s Agency. The Public Water Company in the capital of Angola, Luanda, reports that although the daily need for water is well over a million cubic meters of clean water per day, the public water company EPAL can only supply 540,000 cubic meters of clean water per day. This leaves many without clean water. Even if EPAL were to have the capacity to supply all residents with clean water, it does not have the infrastructure to do so.
  4. Access to Electricity: Few Angolans have access to electricity. In rural areas, only 6 percent of Angolans have access to electricity. In urban areas, 34 percent of Angolans have electricity, leaving 3.4 million homes without power.
  5. Income Inequality: There is a severe gap between wealth in urban and rural areas. Income inequality in Angola is one of the highest in the world at 28.9 percent. Poverty is highest in rural areas where 94 percent of the population qualifies as poor. This is contrasted by the fact that only 29.9 percent of the urban population qualifies as poor.
  6. Public School Enrollment: There is low enrollment in public schools and UNESCO reports that enrollment has been on a steady decline since 2009. The low enrollment rate may be because many schools and roads suffered during Angola’s civil war and because many schools are located in inconvenient and rural locations with poor sanitation and untrained teachers.
  7. Unemployment: Unemployment is very high in Angola. Angolan unemployment has increased by 1.7 percent since 2018, growing to 30.7 percent. The youth unemployment rate is at an all-time high of 56.1 percent.
  8. Oil-based Economy: The economy is not very diversified. Angola is an oil-rich country and as such, more than one-third of the Angolan economy comes from oil and over 90 percent of Angolan exports are oil. Because the oil sector has been public for so long, the economy was prone to contractions and inflations along with global fluctuation in oil prices. This has left the stability of the Angolan economy at the mercy of oil prices, which have been rapidly fluctuating, destabilizing the economy.
  9. Food Insecurity: Many Angolans suffer from severe food insecurity. In fact, 2.3 million Angolan citizens are food insecure, and over 1 million of those individuals are children under 5 years old. Because of government redistribution of land, many farmers have lost their best grazing land and their arable land for crops, leading to a lack of meat and produce.
  10. Unpaid Debts: Unpaid debts threaten to dampen economic growth. After a long economic slump, the Angolan economy has further suffered due to unpaid loans. Twenty-seven percent of total Angolan credits are loans that are defaulted or close to being defaulted, and 16 percent of the largest bank in Angola, BIA, are not being reimbursed.

Although Angola has a multiplicity of problems related to poverty to solve, the country is not beyond help. Angola’s new President has secured loans from China, garnered aid from the International Monetary Fund and promised to allow local businesses to partner with international customers and trade partners to increase macroeconomic growth. As Angola diversifies its economy in 2020, the President of Angola states that economic growth and stability is on the horizon. Angola’s economy is receiving aid from a number of nations, including China, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, which will no doubt prove to be a successful investment.

Denise Sprimont
Photo: Flickr

Safe and Voluntary Refugee Repatriation
Despite the constant divisive debates about whether to welcome refugees, they have protection under international law by the 1951 refugee convention, a multilateral United Nations treaty. It defines who people can consider refugees and outlines their basic rights, including access to fair and efficient asylum procedures. Despite the ever-present debates about acceptance, very little of it has actually been to talk about what happens when countries refuse asylum seekers including the problem of ensuring safe and voluntary refugee repatriation rather than returning them to dangerous situations in their home countries.

Refugees in the US

A country must ensure that refugees live in safety and dignity while it is processing their claims, and safety and dignity are also integral to voluntary repatriation. In 2020, the United States will only accept 18,000 refugees. This will be the lowest number of refugees that the U.S. resettled in a single year since 1980 when Congress created the nation’s refugee resettlement program. In light of such low acceptance rates, a national debate around safe and voluntary repatriation is crucial so that those a country turns away will have safe alternatives. Without debate, there is no clear answer to where those refugees should go, if not the United States.

Migrants, Refugees and Asylum Seekers

People often confuse the matter even more because they use the terms “migrants,” “refugees” and “asylum seekers” interchangeably, despite very different legal meanings and obligations. Amnesty International defines an asylum seeker as an individual who is seeking international protection whose claim a host country has not yet determined. In short, a country will not recognize every asylum seeker as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker. “Migrant” is a broad term that describes anyone who moves to another country for at least one year, for any reason.

“Repatriation” is when a person returns to their country of origin, whether it is because conditions have improved and they want to go home or because their host country has refused their request for asylum. According to the U.N. Refugee Repatriation Agency, safe and voluntary refugee repatriation requires not only the commitment of the international community to safely bring displaced people home but also the cooperation of the country of origin, which has to do the difficult work of reintegration and ensuring stability and safety.

So who will be the 18,000 refugees the U.S. allows in 2020? In 2019, refugees coming to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo far outnumbered those from other countries. D.R. Congo accounted for nearly 13,000 refugees, followed by Burma (Myanmar) with about 4,900, then Ukraine (4,500), Eritrea (1,800) and Afghanistan (1,200).

Repatriation

As of November 13, 2019, a total of 1,439 individuals repatriated. ReliefWeb, an online news source for humanitarian information on global crisis and disasters, reported that approximately 14,700 refugees chose to return to their country spontaneously and by their own means. However, home countries and the international community are working together to help with safe and voluntary refugee repatriation.

The United Nations, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Angolan government collaborated on organizing convoys for voluntary repatriation. Wellington Carneiro, UNHCR’s interim representative in Angola, stated that voluntary repatriation faced challenges like poor road conditions in the rainy season and the need to find suitable vehicles as a result. However, Carneiro assured that the operation, which he expected to finish by mid-December 2019, would fully guarantee the returning Angolans’ safety and dignity. While the international community’s collaborative work was a big part of the success of these trips, the Angolan government played the most important role. Paolo Balladelli, the U.N. Resident Coordinator in Angola, highlighted this when he said that “the Angolan authorities have shown their solidarity by welcoming people, including children, who were at risk of life due to serious ethnic conflicts. The conclusion of this chapter demonstrates to Africa and the world that Angola is a good example of good international practices.”

Julia Stephens
Photo: Flickr