Friday, December 13, 2013

Drought Contributes to Cholera Outbreak in Southern Angola

DECEMBER 5, 2013 (IRIN) A protracted drought followed by the onset of the rainy season in southern Angola has triggered a sharp increase in cholera cases, mainly concentrated in Cunene province, around the provincial capital Ondjiva, where over 1,000 infections and 48 deaths were recorded during a two-week period in November, according to figures from the Ministry of Health.
Cholera is a highly contagious disease associated with poor sanitation and access to safe drinking water. It is endemic in Angola, where nearly half of the population live in conditions conducive to the spread of the illness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  A year-long outbreak that started in the slums of the capital, Luanda, in February 2006 and spread to 16 out of 18 provinces, resulted in over 80,000 reported cases and 3,000 deaths.
So far, the current outbreak has remained almost entirely confined to Cunene, although neighboring Huila province has also recorded some cases. Since January 2013, the country as a whole has recorded just over 5,600 cholera cases and 190 deaths, about 70 percent of them in Cunene.
A drought that started at the end of 2011 is now affecting over 1.8 million people, with five provinces in the south worst affected, among them Cunene. Acute malnutrition rates as high as 25 percent in areas experiencing food shortages due to the drought have left children highly susceptible to waterborne illnesses including cholera, notes a November statement from the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Protecting Angola's Cherished National Park

The Angolan government has endorsed a $10 million project to further protect the 1.5 million hectare Iona National Park, a conservation area shared with neighboring Namibia.

The Park, (Parque Nacional do Iona) is situated in the south-western corner of the Namibe province, about 200 km from the city of Namibe.  Iona National Park was proclaimed a national park in 1937, and it covers an area of 15,150 km2, or 5,850 square miles, making it the largest national park in the country.  Iona National Park has natural borders - the Atlantic Ocean in the west, perennial Cunene River in the south with the Curoca River forming both northern and eastern borders.  

Before the Angolan civil war, Iona National Park was known as an animal paradise, rich in big game. Unfortunately, illegal hunting and poaching, as well as the eradication of infrastructure have caused considerable damage to Iona, as well as most other national parks in Angola.  The wildlife in all the parks have been almost completely wiped out after the devastation wrought by decades of war.  However, efforts are now underway to replace most of the lost wildlife. The “Big Five” of Iona National Park now include: Springbok (Gazelle), Kudu, Ostrich, Oryx and (very rare) cheetah. Other animals in the park include mountain zebra, impala, klipspringer, and the quelengue.  Although the landscape is empty, many animals (especially Springbok) can still be found inside and outside the park.

Iona National Park is also home to over 15,000 indigenous peoples such as the Mucubal and Himba, as well as many Kimbundu groups. Most are subsistent farmers and herders who remain isolated and oblivious to the outside world.  The indigenous people of this region have been studied by anthropologists, who say they are the most culturally intact on the African continent.

In the new agreement, the Ministry of the Environment will work with the Global Environment Facility, the European Union and the UN Development Program to monitor the size and dynamics of plants and animals and ward off the continual threats, such as poaching. (Sonangol Universo Magazine)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stirring Initiatives: Angola's Coffee

Thanks to a number of new initiatives, there is a resurrection in Angola's fortunes in the world's most valuable farm commodity, coffee.

Angola was formerly the industry's fourth-largest grower, but its coffee output plummeted in the 1980s and 1990s as farmers abandoned the land to seek the safety of towns because of the civil war. The country produced a quarter of a million tons of coffee beans at its peak in 1973, but it sank to a low of point of just 3000 tons in 1992.

A farming project in the Porto Amboim region of Kwanza Sul province is in the vanguard of efforts to reinstate Angola's past coffee glories, but this time with added incentive of ensuring better prices and conditions for the producers.   The project has the financial support of the International Coffee Organization (ICO), the Angola and US governments and sales assistance from US Aid and the Cooperative League of the USA (CLUSA).

The Porto Amboim project started in 2008 when the government and NGOs encouraged 4,917 families to farm 8,000 hectares of neglected plantations covering three types of farming areas; low-lying savannah, cool forested highlands and an area of transition between the two.

The lower areas could grow the more resilient yet less valuable coffee variety, Robusta, while the highlands were suitable for the more sought-after and thus pricier Arabica variety.  Arabica is milder tasting, while Robusta gives higher yields and is used more in instant coffee and in stronger roasts.

Each family was given $500 in credit, around two hectares of land and 2,000 coffee plants in plastic bags from a stock of 10 million.  The families had to nurture these young plants in home-made nurseries and then replant the mature bushes on their plots.  So that the families could survive during this process, they also received help to farm a mix of subsistence crops such as bananas and cassava.
Replanting of the coffee saplings had an excellent success rate of 87-90%.

Coffee production rose steadily thanks to local model farms which served as examples of best practice.  Here growers were taught the importance and benefits of pruning and adding organic fertilizer made from coffee husks to add yields.  In order to improve coffee flavor, farmers learned to use simple, raised drying tables to reduce the earthy taste of the coffee and thus gain higher prices.

Because the previously abandoned coffee plantations had not used mineral fertilizers nor industrial insecticides for over 40 years, the Angolan coffee farms had the right to claim in their marketing that they had been organic for longer than most.

The Porto Amboim project also addressed the wider development issues of education and healthcare. Project workers and coffee-growers in areas with difficult access have communally constructed 17 classrooms from local materials to serve almost 1,700 pupils.   Community health centers and small-scale infrastructures such as bridges have been developed with the government providing teachers and health workers.

Over the next five years, Porto Amboim farmers are expected to produce 6,000 tons a year, double the low point for the whole country in 1992.  Amboim coffee can be the reference point for all of Angolan coffee and in fact the high quality of the Amboim's Robusta variety is very similar in taste to the region's much higher-valued Arabica variety.  (Sonangol Universo Magazine)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Angola Dental Health Challenges

(Post from visiting doctor to CEML, Dr. Nicholas Comninellis)

What's the importance of dental care? This child arrived at Lubango Evangelica Medical Center, in Angola of southern Africa, with an abscess draining from under his chin, and with infection racing down his neck and into the chest. The source of his infection? A tooth abscess. The risks of his infection? Loss of his jaw and even death. Fortunately his case my esteemed colleague, Steve Foster, drained the infection and today on examination this sad face is only for show. He's well on the way to recovery. But Angola - like all low-resource nations - has few dentists and concepts of oral hygiene are poorly grasp. Who among you would like to take on this challenge?   

(See Dr. Comninellis' site at

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

For the Love of Hockey - Angolan Style

Luanda — Hockey is popular in Angola, but not the 'ice' kind because of the climate.  The game of roller hockey is similar to ice hockey but played on an indoor, hard surfaced rink of one of three standard sizes (a minimum of 34x17 meters, an average of 40x20 and a maximum of 44x22).   Roller hockey was a demonstration rollersport at the 1992 Summer Olympics at Barcelona.
Recently, the launching ceremony of the 41st Roller Hockey World Cup, to be hosted for first time in Africa and Angola on 20-28 September in 2013 in the provinces of Luanda and Namibe, marks a great moment for history of this sport.  
The top official of CIRH (Committee International Roller Hockey) informed the press during its rewarding ceremony that the cup will conducted on a high standard, due to the efforts made by the Angolan authorities and the organizational capacity of Angola.  Angola was deemed to be efficient in organizing international events under CIRH such as the holding of the first world club championship in 2006 and the African clubs championship in 2008. (Angola Press)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Angolan Training Boosts Human Capital

(Luanda) With seven children from his wife and another six fathered in distant provinces where he fought in the war, 54-year-old José Simão describes his life in the past as just "fighting and making babies”.  

In October he took a short masonry course at the Acreditar Luanda unit, which includes three classrooms, a laboratory and a library, and is located in Zango, one of the neighborhoods that is part of the Population Resettlement Program, a government initiative implemented by Odebrecht to relocate families displaced by urban redevelopment or unsafe housing.

Odebrecht is currently Angola's largest private employer, with some 20,000 workers hired directly. Ninety-three percent of its work force is made up of Angolans.
Odebrecht’s first work in Angola – the Capanda hydroelectric power plant – served “as a school to train an elite” group of technicians, who are currently holding senior positions in the government and in business, says Justino Amaro, the first Angolan to sit in Odebrecht Angola’s board of directors.
Training workers is an essential part of every project implemented by Odebrecht. As of mid 2012, 79,000 Angolans had benefited from the company’s training programmes. University student recruits receive special training and are groomed to occupy senior positions in the company.
In major projects, Odebrecht also offers technical training for the population living in the surrounding areas, preparing any interested young people – not just potential employees – for construction jobs. These technical courses are provided through the company’s Acreditar program, which so far has trained some 3,000 workers in its three Angola units.
Odebrecht’s corporate social responsibility actions, which include providing poor communities with running water, schools, electricity and recreational opportunities, bolster the cooperation-for-development image projected by the company through its construction activities.
This is especially valuable in Angola, a country that is still being built after 37 years of independent life, and which is undergoing a process of post-war reconstruction. (IPS News Agency)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Invented in Angola!

Nuremberg (From special envoy) - Angolan inventors, who represented the country at the recent International Fair of Ideas, Invention and New Products (IENA), received seven medals, one gold, one silver and five bronze in Nuremberg, Germany.  The Angolan representatives received eight medals from their participation in 2011.  

This exhibition, at which the eight inventors of Angola presented 17 projects and inventions, had 750 exhibitors from 54 countries. During four days, the projects presented were about inventions or linked to innovations and technologies, electric power, construction machinery, medical technology and medicine, hygiene, cosmetics, various security and alarm, traffic, transport, car accessories, farming, forest and game entertainment.

The most highly ranked Angolan inventions, as evaluated by the judges, were a camera with a USB pen drive and external hard disk, invented by Adilson da Costa (gold medal) and a signaling system for parking at a curb (silver medal), presented by inventor Hélder Silva.
All other Angolan inventions entered were: the use of industrial múcua, the new way of thinking in Mandombe, Angolan culture and art, as well as a computer mouse for those with disabled upper limbs, a multi-use calculator and one special software program, were the Angolan works awarded with bronze medals.
Angola, which is participating for the fourth time, enrolled to join countries such as Algeria, Bahrain, Bosnia Herzegovina, China, Denmark, Germany (host country), Finland, Great Britain, Russia, Hong Kong , Iran, Italy, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Korea, Croatia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Macedonia, Oman, Austria, Poland, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Hungary, USA, andVenezuela, among others. (Njango Angola, November 2012)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Golfing Angola: New Championship Course Opens

Until now, the golfing venues in Angola had been limited to a purely sand course in Benfica, situated just south of Luanda.

Recently, a new championship quality golf course has opened in Ingombota,  a site along the Kwanza River, some 70 km or 1.5 hour drive from Luanda.  Built on a land area of over 200 hectares beside the river,  the 18-hole Mangais Golf Club and Resort course has a distance of 7000 meters.   Designed as an ecotourism project to preserve the local environment and wildlife, the course incorporates 20 lakes and a 7.5 km canal that runs between the lush mangrove forest that encompasses the course.

Future plans for the golfing development incorporate the addition of two more 18 hole courses, a marina, airstrip and a 5 star hotel.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Update on a Princess Diana's Angola Landmine Victim

(Mail Online, Luanda) Pictured 16 years on: The brave girl who won Diana's heart after losing leg in an Angolan landmine blast.
She was 13 and about to receive a prosthetic leg when Princess Diana visited her.
Poignant images of Sandra Tigica’s 1997 meeting with the Princess of Wales were beamed around the globe, highlighting the appalling problems in Angola, which had the world’s highest rate of death and disability caused by landmines.

Sandra’s left leg had been blown off by a landmine three years earlier as she fled from fighting in her country’s civil war. Diana, who died in a Paris car crash later that year, was in the Angolan capital, Luanda, to publicize her support for the Red Cross campaign for an end to the use of landmines.

Now Sandra is a married mother of three – and dreams that one day Prince William’s wife will carry on his mother’s good work.
She said: ‘Princess Diana helped our country. It is a much safer place thanks to her. I would like to meet “Princess Kate”. I have heard that she is doing a lot of charity work and I think she must continue what Princess Diana started. She should come to Angola.’ Sandra, who watched Kate’s wedding to Prince William on the internet and was delighted by news of her pregnancy, added: ‘I cried a lot, for many hours, when Diana died.

‘She brought hope to Angola. With the humanitarian support from foreign countries, the mines are disappearing little by little. But since she’s been gone, people have started to forget.’

According to the latest figures, 89 casualties from mine or explosive remnants of war devices were reported in Angola in 2011 – at least six of which were children. Total casualty estimates over the years range from 23,000 to 80,000.

It was on January 14, 1997, that Sandra chatted to Diana as they sat on a dusty wall at the Neves Bendinha Orthopaedic Workshop on the outskirts of Luanda.
Sandra recalled: ‘She stroked my face and told me lots of nice things including how she was looking forward to improving conditions in my country.’

Sandra got a prosthetic leg, but she shuns her current one – choosing instead to use crutches. ‘The legs made here are too heavy and I can’t move properly,’ she said.

She earns £130 a month writing letters for the local government, while her husband is in the military. They live in a 20ft x 40ft hut with a corrugated iron roof in Angola’s rural Lunda Sul province with their three children, aged four, six and eight, and Sandra’s 13-year-old sister.

Inside, the photograph of Sandra and Diana takes pride of place on a wall. It is also used in schoolbooks in Angola, and Sandra is recognized wherever she goes because of it. She is looking forward to seeing the meeting recreated in the forthcoming film about Diana’s final years, starring Naomi Watts.
‘I can’t believe I will feature in a big film – I will be played by an actress!’ Sandra said. ‘I don’t have a TV so cannot watch it. But I would like to come to the UK and see it.’ (

Friday, January 4, 2013

Remembering January 4 in Angola

Luanda — The Angolan people are celebrating on Friday, January 04, the Colonial Repression Martyrs' Day, with political, cultural and sports activities.
The date is of extreme importance in the context of the struggle for national liberation against colonialism, since it marked the start of an uprising in Baixa do Cassanje against the Portuguese colonial occupation of about 500 years (1482-1975), with devastating human and material consequences.
The Baixa de Casanje revolt is considered the first battle of the Angolan War of Independence and the Portuguese Colonial War.  The uprising began on February 3, 1961 in the region of Baixa do Cassanje, district of Malanje, Portuguese Angola. By February 4, the Portuguese authorities had successfully suppressed the revolt.
On January 3, agricultural workers employed by Cotonang, a Portuguese-Belgium cotton plantation company, staged a protest to force the company to improve their working conditions. The protest, which later became known as the Baixa de Cassanje revolt, was led by two previously unknown Angolans, António Mariano and Kulu-Xingu. During the protest, the Angolan workers burned their identification cards and physically attacked Portuguese traders on the company premises. The protest led to a general uprising, to which Portuguese authorities responded with an air raid on twenty villages in the area, killing large numbers of Angolan villagers. 
After independence from Portugal in 1975, the Angolan government designated February 4 a national holiday, "Colonial Repression Martyrs Day," in 1996 in remembrance of the attack. To the Angolan people, this date continues to inspire different generations of Angolan children in their actions in defence of liberty and well-being. (

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Historic City Series: Lobito

The city of Lobito is long considered “the guest room of Angola”. Located on the south-central Angolan coast, in the province of Benguela, it is the city that most resembles Luanda, adorned with a wide bay, where stands the Port of Lobito, and a magnificent tongue of land which penetrates the sea - the famous Restinga ex-libris of the city, which hosts the famous Carnival of Lobito.

The Restinga do Lobito is the most attractive area of the city, with over ten kilometers of white sandy beaches and clear waters, a network of hotels, restaurants and bars, which extends from the Colina da Saudade to Ponto Final, with its towering lighthouse guiding the constant movement of ships towards the country's second port in importance and grandeur, after the one in Luanda.

Categorized as “international first class seaport”, with its mineral pier recently expanded and modernized, it is in line with the Benguela Railway (CFB), for flow of goods into the interior of Angola and neighboring countries - particularly the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia, which need it mainly for export of its minerals.

The origin of the name Lobito comes from the word Pitu in Umbundu language, preceded by the particle Olu, which results in Olupitu, which means “door, walkway, passage"which the caravans of porters coming down the hills from the interior, travelled before reaching the “trade square” of Catumbela. With the passage of time, the name changed from Olupitu to Lupitu and, then, was finally translated to Portuguese to Lobito. 

Historical records show that the establishment of the city was prompted by the sea access to the major resources of the area:  produce of the local lime ovens, sea salt and the storage and launching point of human cargo (slaves) for international transaction; already illegal practice but widespread in the world by those who found physical shelter in this harbor and tax evasion”.

Proposals for founding the city of Lobito date back to 1650addressed to the then Portuguese Overseas Council. Given the importance of the location, in 1842 an Regal ordinance from D. Maria II ordered the change of the administration from the “stagnant and unhealthy Benguela, to the most favorable zone, bounded by hills and low breakwater (sandbank) safe and attractive” of Lobito.

In 1902, the potential of Lobito Bay is recognized, in 1906 the port’s project is elaborated and, in the surrounding region, the design of the first part of the city (shopping today) emerges, made official on September 2nd, 1913, by order of the governor Norton de Matos.

In 1923 begins the construction of the port, opening up to exploration in 1928, and in 1931 the British builders take Benguela’s railway from Lobito to the border with the then Belgian Congo, currently the Democratic Republic of Congo. With the construction of the port and the railway line, Lobito would become the first city in Angola after Luanda, to exceed 100 thousand inhabitants to about 1970. Today, it still retains a remarkable human and urban growth, being of the cities of greater economic development in Angola, with its tourism potential, its cement industry and its factories of equipment for the exploration and production of oil. (TAAG Austral Magazine)