Civil strife in Angola leaves millions destitute


Nearly 2.6 million people in Angola have abandoned or been driven from their homes since fighting broke out again following the collapse of the peace agreement in 1998. A massive 1.9 million men, women and children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

A Special Report issued jointly by FAO and WFP, following a food supply assessment mission to the country gives the facts and figures behind the desperate plight of this wartorn nation. Domestic cereal production for the 2000/2001 marketing year - estimated at just over 500 000 tonnes - will cover a mere 40 percent of the people's needs. Import requirements are estimated at 753 000 tonnes - 333 000 tonnes of which will have to be food aid.

UNDP figures for 1999, indicate that 60 percent of Angolans live below the poverty line and that the gap between rich and poor is widening. Between 1995 and 1999, the incomes of the richest 10 percent of families increased by 43 percent, compared to a reduction of 59 percent for the poorer families.

"Agriculture has been the sector most ravaged by the conflict," says the report. "Except in the coastal area where irrigation is practised by commercial farmers, and to some extent the tuber-producing Northern provinces, Angolan agriculture has fallen to a subsistence level …. Plantations of coffee, sisal, cotton and sugar cane have reverted to bush, while production of bananas, palm oil and tobacco has withered during 25 years of warfare."

The report calls urgently for fertile land to be allocated to the displaced people in adequate amounts, and for vital agricultural inputs such as seeds and tools to be delivered to the farmers.

Details of the agricultural situation for main and secondary crops - including area planted, yields and production forecasts - and for the livestock sector are given by the report. It also outlines food production by region and province and covers the food supply situation. The country's war-shattered infrastructure - impassable roads and unrepaired airstrips - combines with the widespread persistent insecurity to make transport of food between surplus and deficit areas almost impossible. This exacerbates price differences - leaving people in one province paying nearly four times as much for 1 kg of maize as those in another. It also means that the good harvests that have been gathered this year - such as cassava in the northern provinces - are unlikely benefit those most in need.

22 May 2000

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