The government of Angola will soon begin enforcing more stringent regulations affecting nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), according to the United Nations’ Integrated Regional Information Network. Minister of Social Welfare Joao Baptista Kussumwa this week urged NGOs to enter into “a more healthy and useful cooperation” with the government.
During and immediately after the civil war, NGOs operated in Angola without much regulation. Relief equipment passed through customs without substantial delay, and NGO staff members easily got working permits and visas. The more demanding regulations, enacted in December 2002 but not previously enforced, require NGOs to give qualified Angolans a hiring preference over foreigners, which is likely to hinder the staffing process. NGOs will also be required to submit detailed reports. Some NGOs are concerned that the government may ultimately seek to displace them and assume direct control over a greater proportion of aid funds. Billions of dollars in aid, remitted directly to the government in the past, is alleged to have disappeared.
The Angolan government is enforcing the regulations as part of its transition from emergency to development, but some NGO officials contend that the transition is premature. According to the UN Children’s Fund, only six percent of 10- and 11-year-olds in Angola attend school. One NGO estimates that 1.8 million Angolans depend on food aid. The nation as a whole has only one doctor for every 13,000 people, and the situation is markedly worse in some regions; Bie, a central province where much of the fighting occurred, is believed to have three Angolan doctors to care for one million people.