Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) SARPN thematic photo
Country analysis > Angola Last update: 2020-09-24  

  [table of contents]  

Angola Vulnerability Analysis, November 2002 - May 2003

One year after the April 2002 cease-fire agreement, provincial Vulnerability Assessment (VA) working-groups are reporting fundamental changes in where vulnerable people are located and even the reasons people are vulnerable. The transition out of conflict has led to shift away from a focus on IDPs, de-mobilization, and resettlement programs. The large concentrations of hungry people in municipal and provincial capitals that were once basically dependent on the humanitarian community have generally returned home. Food security is now more or less a factor of how well vulnerable people were able to re-establish their livelihoods in rural areas during the last agricultural campaign.

With the addition of Kwanza Sul, the VA process includes the participation of twelve provincial VA working-groups. The provincial VA working-groups are composed of representatives from United Nation agencies, NGOs, and government. These participants are generally active in on-going interventions or administration activities that directly affect vulnerable people. Improved participation at the latest bi-annual workshop provided even more information for the provincial level VA reports. These provincial VA reports are synthesized here in this National Vulnerability Overview document.

The provincial VA working groups focused part of their discussion on risks being faced by vulnerable people. Almost all the reports describe the health situation as critical. Lack of access to services and medicines are putting many people at risk. Markets are growing, but traders still under-serve rural areas. High cost of transportation and lack of any sizable harvest or other products to trade from rural communities maintain most traders' attention on more lucrative markets in municipal and provincial capitals. As roads have not been maintained and many bridges remain damaged, large areas are not accessible during the rainy season. Even larger areas are not accessible to certain UN agencies due to security policies. Recently, hundreds of thousands of food insecure people were cut off from aid in rural Huambo province when the main access road was closed to the humanitarian community for months for security reasons. The main agricultural risks revolved around lack of inputs for the last agricultural campaign. A lack of seeds, tools, and labour often resulted in only small areas being sowed and low production. Risk factors are summarized in a series of maps at the national and provincial level. The maps clearly reflect the increased level of risk along an urban/rural gradient with the most isolated places facing the most difficult situations. In the end, it is clear that vulnerable people are managing a whole host of risks everyday throughout Angola.

Identification of vulnerable people into different groups was another primary function of the provincial level VA workshops. Kuando Kubango was the only province with large populations of new IDPs. The situation in Mavinga, Kuando Kubango was critical with more than 100,000 new IDPs arriving in critical need of food and services. The Mavinga situation was an exception to the trend seen in the rest of the provinces. The majority of reported vulnerable people were the more than 1.4 million former IDPs who had spontaneously returned to their places of origin all across the 12 provinces. Concentrations of vulnerable returnees were largest in areas that experienced some of the most intense displacement from the conflict, in particularly the rural areas of Huambo and Biй. Smaller groups of vulnerable returnees were found primarily in the more isolated rural areas of the other provinces. The second largest vulnerable population, vulnerable residents, were also concentrated in the most isolated locations of Huambo and Biй.

There is a striking difference between the more localized groups of the currently food insecure that need immediate intervention and the widespread expectation that highly vulnerable people will deplete available food resources before the next harvest. The new IDPs of Kuando Kubango and the returnees not able to gain access to seeds for planting are the primary groups in a situation of current food insecurity. Almost everyone else was able to produce at least something from their fields and find other sources of food. Fishing, hunting, mushroom collecting and honey gathering played an important role in maintaining a certain level of consumption for many vulnerable people. In general, the resources available from the natural environment played a vital role in buffering the many negative shocks that vulnerable people faced. Unfortunately, it seems that the small stocks will be depleted and other activities will not be enough to sustain highly vulnerable people more than 2-4 months. Interventions for the highly vulnerable will have to cover more people over a much larger area. At the time of greatest scarcity in the lean season, roughly 1,892,500 will need assistance throughout Angola.

Essentially, food security in Angola is returning to basic questions of re-establishing successful livelihoods. Assets are the building blocks of different livelihood strategies. Community and personal assets were not uniformly affected by the conflict. Certain communities and people suffered more. It takes time to rebuild lost assets and broken community structures. Vulnerability at the end of the last growing season appears to reflect this time lag in recovery of different communities. Some of the provincial VA working groups projected that two successful harvests of cereals or the beginning of cyclical cassava production will put most people in a less vulnerable situation.

Obviously, interventions and policy can either support or constrain this process of asset creation and re-establishment of livelihoods. The key to good interventions and policy is having the correct information for decision-making. The VA process included some indicators of food security and livelihood outcomes. Anthropometrics surveys indicated that the nutritional situation is improving in most places. Figures on morbidity and mortality seem to tell a different story. Decision-making in this transition period will require much more information of why people are vulnerable, when the focus has previously been primarily on how many. The challenge now is to incorporate more systematic collection of information on how livelihoods and risk management strategies are developing for vulnerable people in order to clarify what is contributing to more and less successful livelihood strategies.

  [table of contents]  

Octoplus Information Solutions Top of page | Home | Contact SARPN | Disclaimer