Friday, September 21, 2012

Ensuring Angola's 'Food Security'

Luanda — The Republic of Angola recently received USD $100,000 from the country of Brazil to the UN Infant and Children Education Fund (UNICEF) to assist children and women in situations of food shortagesBrazil is joining the UNICEF in providing for initiatives of reinforcement of food and nutritional security in Angola, particularly in drought hit regions covering ten of the country's 18 provinces.
With the Brazil's funds, UNICEF will reinforce the Angolan Government initiatives to overcome the challenges of nature, thus ensuring food security, through prevention and treatment of malnutrition, supply of drinking water for affected children and their families in the provinces of Zaire, Bié, Kwanza Sul and Huíla.
Currently, some 10% of Angola's population are subject to food insecurity, as outlined in the OCHA (Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affair of the United Nations) diagram below. According to the latest WHO data published in April 2011, malnutrition deaths in Angola reached 9,095 or 4.35% of total deaths; one of the highest death rates for this cause worldwide. 

The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing “when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”.  Commonly, the concept of food security is defined as including both physical and economic access to food that meets people's dietary needs as well as their food preferences.
Food security is built on three pillars:
  • Food availability: sufficient quantities of food available on a consistent basis;
  • Food access: having sufficient resources to obtain appropriate foods for a nutritions diet;
  • Food use: appropriate use based on knowledge of basic nutrition and care, as well as adequate water and sanitation. (, OCHA

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Removing Angola's Landmines: The Remaining Task

MALANGE, Angola – Ten years after the end of the civil war in Angola, the country still remains, despite its best efforts, one of the most unexploded mine-affected countries in the world. The African nation was due to finish the demining by 2013, but the Angolan government is requesting a five-year extension to complete the task.

According to the United Nations Development Program, more than 80,000 people in Angola have been maimed by landmines since war broke out in 1975, and thousands more were killed.  One out of eight Angolans lives in a landmine-affected community, and the 30 years of war have riddled all provinces with mines.

One of the NGO's working to de-mine the affected areas is the Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) which has 132 local employees and 2 international staff. Beyond the modern equipment and technology that Norwegian People's Aid's team uses rats in their demining efforts. Rats have an exceptional sense of smell and can be trained to detect explosives.  Unlike metal detectors, they can detect both metal and plastic-cased landmines and can release up to 400 square meters of land per day.

NPA also relies on villagers to tell them where the mines and other explosive devices are located. The agency has teams to sensitize the people on the risks and on the danger of mines and other unexploded devices. They have observed that the villagers are very conscious of the dangers and when they find a suspected mine, they work with NPA to remove it. 

The Norwegian NGO works with the national demining commission, CNIDAH, which coordinates the efforts of both NGOs and local demining teams. The commission monitors the operations all across the country.

CNIDAH's departmental head of operations, Brigadier Roque de Oliveira, says the government has put a great deal of effort into demining, because it is deemed crucial for the development of the country.

"For Angola to grow and develop, especially in agriculture, we need to demine. For Angola to build houses and schools that were destroyed during the war, we need to demine. And we need to demine railroads to improve development as well."

Besides agriculture, the country and the region also have the potential for tourism. Just a few kilometers away from the landmines are the third biggest waterfalls in Africa. Ten years ago, few people would venture here. Today, it has become a popular place for locals and expatriates to visit.
The Angolan government has recently asked for a five-year extension to finish demining, arguing that only 40 percent of the job has been completed in the past decade. (Voice of America)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Angolan Youth Making Beautiful Music

Every day in the district of Samba, a part of the Angolan capital Luanda, about 60 children and adolescents faithfully take lessons each day in classical music on donated violins, basses, and cellos.  This is all a part of the  Kapossoka School of Music, created by Angolan professor Peter Fançony, the director and founder of the school which also supports Kapossoka Symphony Orchestra.
Founded on October 10, 2008, the original idea for the school was to provide a place where Angolan children could engage in cultural activities to prevent crime and stop the misuse of leisure time.  In providing a learning opportunity for needy young people, the school underwrites the costs of all the fees and materials, oftentimes offering clothing and meals.  With interest from the government, even high ranking government officials have personally provided funds for the school's operation.
As City Director of Samba, Professor Fançony traveled in work to the Philippines in early 2008, where the then Angolan ambassador in that country, Flávio Fonseca, also shared the same interest in classical music. The conversation flowed naturally and Flávio Fonseca showed Peter Fançony a violin factory.  From that factory, 60 violins, 10 cellos and 6 contrabasses were ordered, which are being used today.
Recently the Kapossoka Symphony Orchestra, comprised of students training at the music school, took part in an international festival of youth orchestras in Argentina, called the Festival of Iguazu.  At this festival, the Kapossaka Symphone Orchestra won 1st prize in the category of "Effort, Attendence and Good Conduct".  Upon their return back to Angola, the Orchestra was received and greeted by the President of the Angolan Republic, José Eduardo do Santos who congratulated the students on their honor. (TAAG Austral Magazine)