Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Angola 'in denial' over impact of severe drought

Mark Tran in the "globaldevelopment" blog at the Guardian (UK):The Angolan government has been accused of being in denial over a drought that has affected 1.8 million people because the crisis threatens to tarnish the country's image as a booming economy.

Children as young as nine are digging wells to fetch water, amid a severe drought in southern regions of Angola that has forced people to use unclean water for consumption and cooking, according to the UN. Neighbouring Namibia, which has also been badly affected, has declared a drought emergency and appealed for humanitarian aid.

Angola has done neither, although it has appointed a special inter-ministerial commission to respond to the drought, delivered food aid and drilled boreholes. Government sources have told the UN that funding requirements are between $150m (£242.3m) and $350m, but amounts disbursed so far have not been confirmed.

International relief agencies, including Unicef, the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, began responding to Angola's drought in 2012, but the Angolan government was slow to respond, according to aid officials.

"At the time, there was a denial of the problem," said an aid official. "There was a lot of difficulty for them to accept the situation. There was a lot of criticism of the methodology of our rapid assessment. The government said it did not need humanitarian assistance and had enough resources … the problem is we don't know how much it has provided." Others have been harsher, accusing the Angolan government of seeking to play down the crisis....

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