19 September 2003, Rome/Nairobi -- Almost 2 million Angolans will receive agricultural emergency assistance in the next few weeks before the start of the rainy season, FAO said today.

FAO will provide agricultural kits to farmers in 14 of the 18 provinces in Angola. The kits will include locally adapted varieties of maize, beans, vegetable, millet and sorghum seeds, and agricultural tools such as hoes and machetes.

Other humanitarian organizations working in Angola will distribute an additional 300 000 kits, the total will be some 600 000 kits.

In what is FAO's largest operation in Africa, approximately 5 000 tonnes of inputs will be distributed to the most remote and isolated villages, where pockets of extreme vulnerability still exist.

"Through this assistance, farmers and their families will be able to cultivate their land and produce food for several months," said FAO's Emergency Coordinator in Angola, Marco Giovannoni.

Daily life remains difficult

"The return of farmers to their villages has been a phenomenon on an enormous scale," Giovannoni said. "There is a great sense of relief that the war is over, but daily life remains difficult for the vast majority of Angolan people. The supply of seeds and tools is an essential contribution to improve the living conditions, food security and self-reliance of people in rural areas."

After three decades of war and a year and a half of peace, Angolans have started to clear their abandoned lands, to replant their fields and to build more durable houses than the shelters that millions of people were forced to live in during the war.

The government has said that some 3.3 million formerly displaced people have already been resettled and that many others, including a significant number of former UNITA soldiers who have now been demobilized, have already returned to their homes before the start of the rainy season in September.

FAO said that, in collaboration with its partners, among them many non-governmental organizations, it will distribute 50 000 agricultural kits to these demobilized, former UNITA soldiers. Using funds donated by the World Bank, distributions will start in January.

The challenges ahead

Agricultural households in Angola still face a number of challenges, including providing surplus food for their families and infrastructure problems.

National and domestic seed production in the country is limited, and purchasing imported seeds often increases local food prices, to the detriment of already economically fragile rural households.

To help offset this structural deficiency, FAO is supporting seed multiplication programmes in villages, which will help families reduce their dependence on emergency assistance and humanitarian aid and move towards self-sustenance and self-reliance.

FAO has also announced plans to support the rehabilitation of livestock herds in Angola, which have been decimated by the 27-year-long war.

Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the European Union, as well as UNDP, the World Bank, UNHCR and USAID have contributed $11.3 million to FAO's emergency projects in Angola.


Contact:
Erwin Northoff
Information Officer, FAO
erwin.northoff@fao.org
(+39) 06 570 53105