Angola

USAID Field Report Angola Feb 2003

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United States Agency for International Development
Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance
Office of Transition Initiatives
Program Description

The OTI program in Angola was initiated in February 2003 to support the renewed opportunity for lasting peace and increased democratic opening following the end of 40 years of violent conflict. OTI plans to provide support to three areas: civil society advocacy on key transition issues; strengthening independent media; and nurturing broad participatory processes, including elections. As appropriate, OTI's program may also include activities directed at strengthening deliberative processes and encouraging good governance. OTI's FY 2003 budget is approximately $3.5 million.

Country Situation

Angola faces severe challenges in rebuilding its physical infrastructure and addressing overwhelming social and economic difficulties following decades of conflict. Among the most pressing social problems are the reintegration of ex-combatants and their families. An estimated 400,000 people are currently housed in temporary quartering areas throughout the country. Progress has been slow on the implementation of a government-sponsored plan to provide resettlement assistance, such as tools, seeds and other resources, to ex-combatants and their families. Closure of the camps, planned for September 2002, is now planned for June 2003, and the mounting dissatisfaction of this population poses a challenge to Angola's fragile peace process.

Other challenges facing the country include resettlement of displaced persons (estimated at as many as 3 million people), and the removal of landmines. In addition to a significant number of internally displaced persons, refugees currently living in neighboring countries, such as Zambia, are beginning to return, further stretching the capacity of the Angolan government and aid agencies. Landmines pose one of the most serious obstacles to delivering assistance, with many mines unmarked, large portions of the country remaining inaccessible and insufficient resources available to speed up the demining process.

Moving from crisis to recovery represents an enormous challenge for aid agencies, donors and the Angolan government. The United Nations Mission to Angola (UNMA), under the leadership of Dr. Ibrahim Gambari, Special Representative to the UN, terminated its mandate on February 15, announcing that primary responsibility for reconstruction and recovery would now rest within the remaining UN structures in the country, development and humanitarian organizations and the Angolan government. Dr. Gambari also chaired the Joint Commission (JC), a UN-brokered body under whose auspices negotiations for the conclusion of the peace process took place and which included representatives of the government, UNITA and three observer nations (Russia, Portugal and the US). The JC's mandate expired in November 2002. UNITA officials are now complaining that the government has done too little to implement the reintegration program established by the JC.

Further complicating the situation are expected conflicts over land tenure. Angola's existing land tenure legislation is inadequate to address current needs. It is ambiguous and outdated, and does not adequately provide for effective resolution of conflicts. Furthermore, Angola's land cadastre is severely outdated, and does not reflect current land use patterns. A significant amount of the country's land is inaccessible due to landmines, and much of the available land is ill-suited for agriculture. Finally, many ex-combatants, internally displaced persons and refugees are expecting to return to lands which have been destroyed by the conflict or are now being used by others. Without significant changes to the current structure, land-related conflicts may become a major obstacle to reconstruction.

Angola is rich in oil and diamonds, and increasingly, donors and international organizations are calling for increased governmental accountability and transparency regarding the billions of dollars which flow into the country from these resources. Angola's independent media have an important role to play in this regard, but lack infrastructure and resources. They are also subject to governmental cooptation or self-censorship. Recently, the country's largest independent radio broadcaster, Radio Ecclesia, was accused of "radio terrorism" by a high-ranking government official as a result of its presentation of anti-government viewpoints.

Armed conflict between the government and armed separatists continues in the oil-rich Cabinda province, located within the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cabinda is hotly contested, as it accounts for 60% of Angola's oil production. Human rights groups report that the human rights situation in the area has deteriorated in recent months as the conflict continues. Encouragingly, during February, a spokesperson for one of the rebel groups reported that exploratory talks had been held in January. Nevertheless, government and opposition groups' positions remained entrenched with little likelihood of a rapid resolution of the conflict.

While the current government has committed to holding general elections, no date has been set. Most political leaders from the main political parties agree that the constitutional reform process currently underway in Angola must be completed before elections are held. It appears unlikely that elections will take place before 2004, and may be delayed until 2005 or 2006. Besides constitutional reform, other important election-related issues will include reform of the electoral laws and civil registration.

OTI Highlights

A. Narrative Summary

OTI's implementing partner in Angola, Creative Associates, arrived in mid-February along with OTI's Angola Country Representative. OTI's focus in February was startup. By the end of February, while not fully operational, Creative Associates had established minimal grant-making capacity, had secured office space, and had contracted all key personnel. OTI's program will be housed in the USAID mission and will be closely coordinated with existing USAID democracy strengthening activities, which will be coordinated by the OTI Country Representative.

B. Grants Activity Summary

No grants were approved in February, as the month was focused on OTI and implementing partner startup tasks. However, work has begun on identifying potential local partners and OTI expects to begin approving initial grants in March.

NEXT STEPS/IMMEDIATE PRIORITIES

OTI will focus on training and orienting new project development staff, who begin work March 3. OTI will also work on further refining its strategy and grant approval criteria. Finally visits will be scheduled for March and April by OTI staff to key provinces to identify local needs and potential partners, as well as to assess the local implementation environment.