ROME, 19 November 2002 -- In April 2002, more that 20 years of civil war ended in Angola. Taking stock, the situation looked dim: malnutrition rates were high, millions of people were displaced, agricultural production had declined dramatically and the whole agricultural sector needed to be rebuilt. But peace had arrived, and luckily, so did help.

"The media coverage of the peace process had put Angola on the map and in the donors' minds," says Fernanda Guerrieri, Chief of FAO's Emergency Operations Service. The governments of Italy, Japan and the United States responded to the call for funds to rehabilitate Angola's agriculture, presented in the United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal 2002 (CAP 2002). Of the US$6.8 million requested, US$5.1 million came in. The funds and the ceasefire made it possible for FAO to assist throughout Angola.

"Earlier the war prevented us from getting to many parts of the country," says Ms Guerrieri. "But in 2002 we have been able to provide seeds and tools to farmers in some of the remotest areas of Angola." The help reached the farmers just in time for the September/October sowing season. All in all more than 300 000 families received tools, vegetable seeds and food crop seeds such as maize, beans and sorghum.

The distribution of thousands of tonnes of seeds would not have been possible without NGO partners such as Care, Caritas, World Vision International and many others. "They did a remarkable job in distributing the tools and seeds to the most vulnerable farmers throughout the country," says Ms Guerrieri.

In addition, FAO and its partners continue a land-tenure project to facilitate resettlement and reintegration of displaced people. Another project aims to strengthen Angola's capacity to produce its own good-quality seeds. "Good quality seeds were not available within the country, so we have identified skilled farmers in nine provinces and strengthened their ability to produce quality seed. We then buy a part of their production and distribute it to other needy farmers," says Ms Guerrieri.

Of the 21 countries included in the CAP 2002, Angola was one of the few countries that received almost the whole amount requested for the agricultural sector. Ms Guerrieri says: "It has been a good year for Angola. First peace came and afterwards donors supported the necessary agricultural projects presented in the CAP."

Next year will be critical for consolidating peace and bringing prosperity in Angola, which is also included in the CAP 2003. All in all, UN agencies and NGOs are requesting US$386 million for 166 projects. The agricultural component for which FAO is responsible amounts to US$12.7 million, and the focus will be on coordinating emergency agriculture operations, distributing seeds and tools, facilitating access to land for returnees, promoting small animal breeding and building local capacity in seed production and household nutrition.