Progetti in Angola

Farming, water and electricity are changing the lives of families

We are helping transform everyday life in local communities in southern Angola, by installing water, electric systems and promoting education, disease prevention and farming work with farmers’ clubs.

30 March 2020
11 min read
30 March 2020
11 min read

Having free access to water and electricity, access to education, medical care and growing fresh vegetables helps raise people's quality of life. The many beneficiaries of the Integrated Social Project will tell you the same. Since 2017, they have been on the receiving end of a range of initiatives in the southern provinces of Huíla and Namibe. Together with the Angolan NGO Ajuda de Desenvolvimento de Povo para Povo (ADPP), we implemented the first phase of the project launched following our commitment from 2017 to 2019. In December 2019, we carried out an assessment of the most significant changes that the project had brought about, whereby the people involved in the project were given the opportunity to explain the impact that these changes had had on their lives. 


Keeping a garden means a better everyday diet

There are now over 700 farmers signed up to farmers’ clubs under the Integrated Social Project and 26 fields providing the community with products for their own consumption and surplus for selling or swapping at the market. Also, thanks to the training provided through the ECAP model (Escola de Campo Agro-Pastoris) which consists of farmers’ clubs, held in villages to help farmers, local women have found out about new vegetables for growing and eating. This in turn is helping to improve diets. Cucumbers, okra, aubergines and carrots, for example, are being planted in fields for the first time. During the training, the farmers learn to prepare the land for greenhouses, do mulching, water plants and use dung as fertiliser, which is very important. “We Mucubals are semi-nomadic people and rely on meat and milk alone, so I’d never been interested in crop farming, but the ECAPs have changed my life,” says Ndonduila Tchivanda, who lives in the province of Namibe. “I learnt how to grow different types of vegetables. I learned to use dung, grow crops and make organic pesticides. For the first time in my life, I began eating aubergines, okra and carrots. At the ECAPs I began growing maize, pumpkins, onions, tomatoes, beans, watermelons and cabbage. My family's everyday diet has changed completely. Now we have healthy food and surplus from our field. We can sell it at the market and then share the profits among families. I use what I earn to buy new seeds and school equipment for my children. Thanks to the training, my family and I won’t live as nomads any more and two of my children have started going to the local school.” Maria Florida Joaquim, from the province of Bibala, also had her life changed by the farmers’ clubs: “At first I didn't know much about farming. I was only used to growing millet and sorghum. Then I learnt how to produce and cook cabbage, tomatoes, onions, aubergines, carrots, peanuts, cucumbers and maize. At the training sessions we learnt how to make seedbeds and do mulching. My family's diet has improved, too. I also like the idea of learning and working with other people. Before this, I had never seen people from different tribes working together, but the Integrated Social Project manages to bring the Mucubals, Munguendelongos and Mumuilas together.”

Where there's water, there's life

The water systems we have built give drinking water to families and livestock. The latter is an essential source of livelihood for these farming communities, who were once forced to walk miles in search of water. Access to water is also essential for agriculture. Women can grow crops in the fields and irrigate them, rather than carrying heavy buckets back from the stream. Having a well to draw water from has improved everyday life at the medical centre in Taka, too. “We used to have to walk long distances to get water, and we never had very much of it – we just used it for cleaning,” recalls Jerónimo Pupila Valunga, a nurse. “Today, though, with the well working, we can use water for having a bath, washing patients and drinking. What struck me straight away, and still does, about the well, is that it serves both us medical staff and people living near the centre. Every day, we get 200 people on average coming to get water from it.”. The village of Kamupapa has also seen quality of life go up. Américo Hungulo, headmaster of its primary school, explains: “Before we had electricity and water, life in our community wasn't easy. We walked very far in search of water because we couldn't always get some from the manual well. Teachers would go out of their house with four and a half gallons of water just to meet their needs. They would carry that load for twenty miles.” António Tomás, a nurse from the community of Ndongue, confirms the difficulties families had to face every day: “They used to drink undrinkable water and I'm afraid to say you could see the effects of it. Families often suffered from acute diarrhoea thanks to drinking undrinkable water. Now we don't have to walk long distances in search of water anymore. We have clean water at our disposal all day long and intestinal infections have gone down.”

Electricity transforms the Mangueiras school

Before the solar power system was installed, conditions inside the school building in Mangueiras, in the Namibe province, near the border with the Huíla province, were particularly bad. The pupils had no motivation whatsoever to go to school and the teachers did not have electronic or digital tools to make their job easier. Everyday school life improved when the solar power system was installed. “Now the teachers and pupils can use computers and printers,” explains headmistress Luisa Matias. “Our canteen works and we have a room with a TV. The pupils can watch it at break time, which would have been impossible in the past. Now, thanks to electricity, lots of children are coming to the classes and we have put on two sets of evening classes, each with forty students enrolled”. Electricity has improved working conditions at the nearby Mangueiras Health Post. Before they were plugged into the mains: it was hard to manage their work, especially at night. They did visits with a mobile phone torch and candles, which were very expensive. “Another big problem was keeping vaccines,” says Maria Teresa Sacambovo, a nurse. “We had to keep them wrapped in ice and in thermal bags, but that wasn't very safe. Now we can do visits and make deliveries at night time with no problems. The cold chain works all day long and we don't have to go to the capital of the province to buy ice. Now I even have electricity at home and I can watch TV. I wasn’t used to getting any news on politics or events in my own country, but now I can get updates every day.”

Without education there is no future

Many adults are now learning to read and write as a result of various literacy initiatives that have been introduced in the country. “I am studying and I can already write my name. I can also read and help my daughter with school work, and I am better at doing sums at the market. I am very satisfied with the school and it makes me feel more secure.” These are the words of Ana Maria Tyokomukua, a 57-year-old farmer, while Cristina Lombinza, who teaches reading and writing in the municipality of Gambos, proudly states that “only knowledge can set you free.” She has a class of 25 women and six men who were previously completely illiterate but can now write their names or at least spell them out loud. “When I look to the future I would like to create the conditions for my children to continue studying  and get a job.” Seventeen-year-old Vilanora Cacueka is happy with the benefits of the Integrated Social Project: “I like going to school to learn a lot and get good grades. Since there is now light at the school, I go there to study and go over the material the teacher gives us in the evenings.”

Health begins with prevention

The Integrated Social Project has enabled us to put together a group of teachers and pupils who share knowledge about water and hygiene at every school. The groups have organised bathroom cleaning, waste collection and water filtration programmes involving techniques that can also be used at home, as well as promoting awareness of good practices among medical clinic workers, families and the community. “The teacher explained to my parents the importance of hygiene,” explains Augusto, a 13-year-old pupil. “At school they tell us about what is happening in other provinces and the effects of drought.” The teachers have highlighted the importance of drinking sufficient amounts of clean water, explaining the vital links between a sufficient supply of clean water, proper nutrition and good health. The school programme included activities related to the prevention and treatment of malaria, TB and HIV. “I teach health classes to the pupils at school,” explains primary school teacher Maria Da Conceição Francisca. “The lessons are really opening people's minds.” Thanks to the locally trained health agents, we are improving the health of families in the area, which is important to creating a more developed and better prepared Angola. “My job is making local workers and communities aware of the best practices to adopt”, explains community health agent coordinator Berta Sambas Tomás, “and together we are driving a major campaign to prevent diseases.”



Access to medical care through health agents

The Integrated Social Project has helped to significantly improve the health situations of families living in the provinces of Huíla and Namibe. Women give birth safely at the health centre and vaccination campaigns are much more effective. Health agents make home visits and people are more willing to accept advice and discuss family members’ health problems. The increase in home visits to an average of three per family per year also makes it easier to assess the impact of the preventive measures implemented. “We know much more about the diseases today, we are vaccinated and we work more closely with the Pocolo health centre”, explains community leader of the Vangula district Antonio Muetukoya. “The number of sick people has decreased, and we would like this project to continue because it has opened new horizons for the community.” Antonio Tepondo Kanvaluiva, meanwhile, is a health agent. He identified four cases of tuberculosis in his district and referred patients to the health centre for appropriate treatment: “I probably saved their lives. I want the project to continue because it has improved many things in the community.” In 2018 there were many cases of scabies in the municipalities of Gambos and Bibala. The community health agents gave many talks and the disease started to get under control until it disappeared altogether. Laurindo Chinge is a qualified nurse who supports the head of Pocolo Health Centre. “Coordination with health agents enabled us to explain to the communities the cause of the disease, personal hygiene principles and how to wash clothes. The health agents also encouraged patients to go to the health post  to receive treatment. It all went to help to control the scabies.”