Christian Aid has exited Angola as part of a change programme to deliver greater impact globally. To reach those most in need, address the root causes of poverty, speak truth to power and raise the voices of the world’s most marginalised people, we are refocusing our work. In line with our new global strategy, Standing Together, we are deepening our interventions in fewer countries.
During Angola’s long civil war, we supported church partners to deliver emergency relief. After the war ended in 2002, these partners supported thousands of returning refugees to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
From then until the Angola programme closed in 2020, we focused on building peace and justice. In 2003 we began working with newly-established human rights organisations as well as church partners. We felt that faith groups and human rights groups each had a vital, complementary role to play.
Faith-based organisations had the reach, legitimacy and influence to effectively challenge harmful social norms around issues such as corruption and gender-based violence. They were also able to reach remote rural areas where no other agencies were operating.
Human rights groups had less direct reach but were more outspoken, raising awareness of citizens’ rights and publicly denouncing human rights abuses – even at high personal cost. Christian Aid sought to empower and defend these fledgeling organisations, supporting them to build networks and alliances, providing international visibility at moments of danger, and funding training and mentoring opportunities for leaders, especially women.
Urban and rural work
Over the past 37 years, our partners have worked with some of Angola’s poorest and most vulnerable people, primarily in the centre and south-east of the country.
In urban areas, partners have supported former street children, street vendors, teenage girls and boys, people living with HIV and those facing eviction and homelessness.
In rural areas our partners have worked with remote pastoralist communities, returning refugees, women entrepreneurs and farming communities struggling to cope with climate change.
Since President João Lourenço took office in 2017, the human rights situation in Angola has improved notably, especially regarding freedom of expression and civic space. Several human rights organisations have finally gained legal accreditation, after years of waiting.
Angolan citizens have become more outspoken and demanding of their government, and the President even held a public reception for human rights groups, which Christian Aid partners Omunga and AJPD attended.
Christian Aid partners and other Angolan human rights organisations have worked tirelessly to force human rights issues onto the agenda at the highest level. They helped to bring about this change, and now have a unique opportunity to build upon it.
Our human rights partners have also achieved numerous local, grassroots victories. Recent examples include CGN and AJPD helping pastoralist communities to defend their water source against powerful landowners who sought to seize it, and Omunga supporting former street children to campaign for homes. By empowering ordinary Angolans to make their voices heard, our partners have helped to transform deeply-entrenched power dynamics. In recent years, much of this work has been generously funded by Irish Aid.
Our faith-based partners have also played a key role in building peace and promoting gender equality, with a particular focus on changing attitudes and behaviour among young people. These projects have aimed to equip young people to become catalysts for change in their wider families, communities and workplaces. In the years to come, they will influence tens of thousands of others – a living legacy of our work.
Angola: learning from 37 years of partnership
In December 2020, Christian Aid exited from Angola, after 37 years. Our exit review captures key insights and learning from the Angola programme.