Current Mine Action Activities and Plans
In the 2006-2011 mine action strategy, CNIDAH formulated the vision to reduce and regulate the impact of mines and UXO by end 2011.
The following strategic goals were specified:
- to significantly reduce the risk to impacted communities and at-risk groups by 2011;
- to support national infrastructure investment and reconstruction through the national mine action program;
- to establish a national mine action capacity that is sustainable after the end of major international assistance; and
- to establish a world-class mine action program in Angola. In support of the long-term vision, CNIDAH’s overall goal for 2007 is “to promote and improve the general level of results, more efficient use of available capabilities, and enhance the safety and quality of operational activities.”
The enabling objectives are:
- To consolidate CNIDAH as the national mine action authority, efficiently regulating and coordinating the sector, with priority given to completing the landmine impact survey;
- To develop national organisations (INAD, FAA, National Police and NGOs), with priority given to developing the INAD’s operational capacity and its Demining School; and
- To support a careful and sustainable expansion of operational capacity, with priority given to promoting improvement in operational output without compromising the safety and quality of the work; resolving problems constraining the operational efficiency of existing capacities; and enhancing coordination at the provincial level and, more generally, within the sector.
This all sounds very sensible as a plan. The question is the degree of commitment, as little progress was made in implementing earlier plans. As well, the Strategic Plan does not appear to be accompanied by a clear financing plan detailing the contributions that would be necessary for implementation from
(i) the GOA budget,
(ii) reconstruction programme budget, and
(iii) international donors.
Such a financing plan is an essential tool for monitoring progress in implementing the Strategy, and in the growth in the GOA’s contribution to addressing the country’s landmine problem. It also is regrettable that key partners such as donors and relevant ministries had little opportunity to participate in the development of the Strategy. More concretely, the GOA demining entities and local firms conduct demining in support of infrastructure contractors on government-funded rehabilitation projects.
The GOA has set up 43 new demining brigades (18 in FAA, 10 in GRN and 15 in INAD), which brings staffing to 3,237 in these three organisations. However, QA is weak and it remains unclear whether any operators beside the INGOs are working to international standards. There have been protracted discussions between the governments of Switzerland and Angola concerning the use to be made of about $21 million in funds that had been deposited in Swiss banks by Savimbi. The Swiss proposed the funds be used for mine action. The GOA submitted a proposal to purchase demining machines with it, but without an adequate assessment of the utility CNIDAH: of the machines in Angola, and without a proper maintenance package. At the time of the evaluation, the GOA and Switzerland had not agreed on how to spend the money.
In a new development, Angola is included in a proposed regional programme for mine action with the Great Lakes region countries. In cooperation with Zambia and the DRC, mine action coordination and joint programming is to be promoted to increase mine detection, road and area verification capacities, and training.
Angola is often described as a resource-rich but policy-poor country. The Government has shown capability in stabilising the economy, leading to very rapid growth: but as yet there is no national development vision and plan to translate that growth into improved wellbeing for the majority of regions and people in the country. Buoyant government revenues and large loans from China mean the international community has only modest leverage in terms of ‘policy dialogue’ and transparency, in spite of significant flows of development assistance. The Government has launched a large infrastructure rehabilitation and reconstruction programme, which will open the interior and, potentially, create new opportunities for rural residents. However, new roads and railways will also mean competition from imported goods, which will appear cheap in local currency terms because of the appreciation of the kwanza due to high oil revenues. Without efforts to enhance agricultural and agro-processing productivity, the rural economy could be devastated, destroying the livelihoods of many people in mine-affected communities. The Government has also announced a decentralisation strategy, but has made only fitful progress in implementing this, in part because of the very significant capacity constraints outside a few major centres. In response to widespread poverty, international donors have continued to provide substantial assistance through non-government channels (UN agencies, international NGOs, etc.) to address poverty and support more balanced growth.
However, coordination among donors, and between donors and the government, remains weak because there are no mechanisms for regular dialogues on policy and aid delivery.
In most respects, the mine action sector reflects this broader situation:
- the GOA is substantially increasing its expenditures on mine action, but with a strong focus on demining in support of the National Rehabilitation Programme;
- international mine action actors have access to few details on the government-financed demining in support for reconstruction, and have expressed concerns about the transparency of the contract awards, the quality of the demining operations, and the safety of construction crews and civilians;