(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

NGOs ponder challenge of post-war transition

[ANGOLA] Angola has made windfall earnings from the current high oil price.
Sonangol

NGOs operating in Angola say donors must not neglect the country's critical transitional phase as it moves from an emergency situation into a longer-term development context.

"Post-war states are very vulnerable; civil society is fragile; the population is extremely weak - this time is much more complex than the emergency phase," Allan Cain, director of Development Workshop told IRIN.

"Because it's a new phenomenon in Africa, most donors, and especially the UN, don't have the institutions, programmes or funds to deal with the post-war situation," Cain said.

Around a million people died in Angola's 27-year civil conflict, which ended in April 2002. Another four million were internally displaced and the country's infrastructure was left in tatters.

Rebuilding the country is a mammoth task. But many donor countries appear lukewarm about pumping more money into oil-rich Angola now that the humanitarian emergency is over, and until they receive guarantees that the cash will be well spent.

Angola has been plagued by persistent allegations of corruption and mismanagement, although the International Monetary Fund said the situation had improved significantly.

NGOs called on donors to finance the transitional phase while a longer-term development strategy was nailed down, complaining that there were not enough funds to go around.

"Money that's being offered isn't yet appropriate for what needs to happen on the ground," said Sheilagh Henry, acting country director of the Irish development agency Goal. "If it is not filled in you run into a different type of emergency."

Some organisations might have to pull out if more funding was not forthcoming, Henry said, threatening the existence of essential projects in the field.

"The government doesn't have the resources to ensure they [the projects] continue to operate, so they could collapse," Henry told IRIN.

Country director for CARE, Douglas Steinberg, said NGOs also needed to adapt to the post-emergency realities of Angola. "We all have to make a transition. If we [NGOs] are going to remain relevant, then continuing humanitarian assistance doesn't make sense," Steinberg said.

"We have to look at what we're going to do and reorient and retool. That's as big a challenge for us as finding the funding to do it. I think it's too easy to say there's no donor funding. I think funding will remain for the NGOs making the right decisions," he added.

But Steinberg, too, admitted that donor funds had been shrinking, increasing competition between NGOs for scarce resources. CARE had already sought private sector funding, including from oil companies, he said.

"CARE has put in place a strategy of due diligence to see who [in the private sector] is funding us. We're already getting significant funding from [British oil firm] BP. Among the oil companies, I think they're probably the cleanest," he said.

Despite its massive oil reserves and economic potential, the vast majority of Angola's 13 million people live in dire poverty.

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