Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Experience and institutional capacity for poverty and income distribution Analysis in Angola
Jan Isaksen, Inge Tvedten, Pacheco Ilinga
Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI)

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges the CMI website as the source of this report:

Executive Summary


The Chr. Michelsen Institute was contracted to carry out this study on previous experience in and institutional capacity for poverty and income distribution analysis in Angola. The study aims at presenting an overview of the present and emerging situation with regard to poverty and wealth in Angola, and at producing an input to the Norwegian Embassy on how best to support poverty analysis and monitoring in Angola.

In this study, considerable emphasis is placed on poverty statistics and the state of statistical production in Angola. This is in line with orthodox ways of measuring and describing poverty. Research on poverty has come to be based on quantitative methods. However, this does not mean that the study focuses only on institutions doing predominantly quantitative research. On the contrary, the team perceives - and subscribes to - an emerging feeling among academics, civil society and donors that qualitative research ought to be given more support and emphasis. We believe that it is more important to focus on how quantitative and qualitative techniques can be integrated in what is often called “methodological pluralism” or “pluralistic research”.

Poverty situation

Describing the national poverty situation in Angola and its development over time in some detail is a difficult task if one wants the description to be based on data and not on casual observation, hearsay and opinion. Attempts to collect data have been hampered by war and have at best covered those parts of the country where the Government has had control. Detrimental factors for the collection and analysis of poverty data have over time had damaging effects on the data culture in Angola. The lack of valid data on poverty is clearly visible in international publications.

Despite the high prevalence of poverty, Angola as a country does not belong to the poor in terms of GDP per capita. The World Bank classifies it as a lower middle income country, and it may soon be among the middle income countries in terms of average GDP per capita. However, the country’s poverty situation is serious and its income distribution very skewed. About 70% of the population are below the poverty line. The functional income distribution, i.e., the division of income between capital and labour, is biased towards capital by super-profits in the natural resource sectors in Angola. The spatial income distribution is also skewed, with most returns ending up in Luanda.

Angola’s excellent natural resource endowment should mitigate poverty and skewed income distribution. A recent IMF staff report concludes that the economic outlook for Angola has been transformed by the 2002 peace agreement and by increasing government revenues from oil but that “progress on structural reform and policies to reduce poverty has been limited”. A large number of national and international observers say that the elite’s vested interest in the status quo sidelines attention to poverty reduction. Moreover, various commentators feel that the present Poverty Reduction Plan (ECP) is a “paper plan” drawn up to appease donors and extract resources from them.

Institutional mapping

By international comparison Angola has a seemingly burgeoning civil society sector. It has a fairly average share of development organisations within government but is very short on institutions that deal with research and training.

The key institution for gathering, storing and supplying quantitative data in Angola is the Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE) which, according to the IMF, leads a very weak statistical system which suffers from a “lack of timely, accurate, and comprehensive data for all economic sectors, except the monetary sector, and hampers the formulation of appropriate policies …”

Key ministries which have responsibility for the implementation of various parts of the poverty reduction plan are the Ministry of Planning (MINPLAN), the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Assistance and Social Reinsertion (MINARS) and the Ministry of Agriculture, all of which have their Ministerial Office for Studies, Planning and Statistics (GEPE).

The Social Support Fund (FAS) is a governmental agency with financial and administrative autonomy under the Ministry of Planning and was created in 1994 to implement part of a credit negotiated between the Government of Angola and the World Bank.

The Ministry of Health’s focus is on regulation, technical guidelines/orientation, planning, evaluation, and the inspection of a variety of national health programmes, most of which are heavily dependent on external assistance.

The Ministry of Education is set up with a Research and Statistics Unit which collects and analyses administrative data relating to the education sector. The statistical aspects are to be supervised by the INE.

The primary role of MINARS is to trace and help vulnerable groups in society. The Ministry is represented in all the provinces, which run their own regular statistical surveys on vulnerable people. The data is shared with INE.

The university sector in Angola consists of the “old” Universidade Agostinho Neto (UAN), and the more recent Universidade Católica de Angola (UCAN) and Universidade Lusíada. UAN is the largest university, and was originally established in 1962.

The only notable academic institution set up for research with a poverty focus is the Centro de Estudos e Investigação Científica (CEIC) at the Universidade Católica (UCAN). This is a recently established independent and autonomous research centre, with the following objectives:

  • To foster informed public debate on public policy issues, through the publication of research findings and the promotion of research seminars;
  • To contribute to the development of national capacity in the area of public policy formulation and evaluation;
  • To assist the University to reach its full research and teaching potential, by promoting research by University professors and establishing links with other research organisations.
Before 1991, most CSOs in Angola were associated with the state party, but there was a major surge of institutions starting after 1991. The umbrella organisation, FONGA, gives an estimate of 500 NGOs nationally.

ADRA is a non-profit NGO. Its mission is to contribute to sustainable development in Angola and the improvement of living conditions, particularly for the poor and marginalised; to promote community participation in the solution of their problems through the democratisation process; and to build the capacity of civil society.

Development Workshop, founded in 1973 and operating in Angola since 1981, is a non-profit organisation working to improve the settlements and livelihoods of the poor in less developed communities by strengthening the capacity of those communities and organisations to act on development problems and opportunities.

AIP is a private research institution, formally established in Angola in January 2000. AIP involves 15 researchers, most of whom are senior professionals still maintaining employment in the public or private sector. There is also a potential group of younger academics recently returned from studies abroad.

CEEA is a private not-for-profit association of a scientific nature, with juridical and administrative and financial autonomy. Its members may be founders, associates and correspondents. A number of activities are planned: the publication of written texts is the main priority. A Portuguese and English periodic bulletin with political, economic, social and military content is considered.

CESA presents itself as an applied social science institution, and was formally established in May 2002. Its strategy is to work closely with international research institutions in data collection and research, in order to develop national capacity and enhance the role of the social sciences in Angola’s development.

There are a large number of oil companies in Angola which spend money on their own CSR projects in the form of various types of support to social and economic development. The size of spending on social projects has been increasing over the past few years, and total payments at some USD 20 to 30 million in 2005 have been indicated to us. It is assumed that such payments might well increase to USD 40-50 million during the first few years.

Poverty research

Considerable changes in the profile of poverty in Angola are likely to have taken place since the end of the war in mid-2002. These have not been captured, due to the dearth of recent studies.

INE is seen as having a central role in the production of national poverty data by practically all the institutions we have interviewed. Two types of national statistics are vital in order to produce a sufficient basis for poverty reduction planning, implementation and monitoring. One is a proper census. No census has been carried out since 1970, implying that there are considerable uncertainties related to the size, composition and distribution of the population in Angola. Plans for carrying out a census are, somewhat vaguely, set for implementation after 2010. The second is a proper National Household Income and Expenditure Survey, which is planned to take place in 2008.

Apart from INE’s efforts, nation-wide socio-economic data was collected by the Government with the support of OCHA in connection with the large exercise of resettling the estimated 350,000 returnees and 4 million internally displaced people following the peace settlement in mid-2002.

Data are also published in the UN-initiated Millennium Development Goals Report of 2005 and the Angola Human Development Report of 2004, but both are based on pre-2002 information.

A potential source of more recent national population data is the voter registration exercise currently being carried out by KPMG on behalf of the Government, but this is not being used to collect other types of social data.

The bulk of studies on development and poverty that have been carried out in Angola during the last five years are based on what may be termed a “qual-quant” approach and methodology, and cover a limited number of provinces, municípios and comunas. Their usefulness for the planning and implementation of a national poverty reduction strategy is limited by the nature of the data and its localised character.

FAS have carried out a number of studies on the socio-economic conditions of the areas where they work. Most of these are baseline studies directly related to their own projects, but some also have a more general applicability.

A number of studies have been undertaken as baselines or follow-up of ongoing programmes and projects implemented by Angolan NGOs. As part of their programmes in rural Bié, Huambo and Malanje, ADRA has carried out studies that are good and well-written, but again with a limited general applicability for the analysis of the poverty situation.

Qualitative analyses of social relations of poverty are rare in Angola; an important exception is Paul Robson and Sandra Roque’s “Here in the City there is Nothing Left for a Helping Hand” (Robson and Roque 2001) from Luanda.

The study “Food Security and Livelihood Survey in the Central Highlands of Rural Angola” (WFP 2005) is an example of a more recent and poverty-focussed study. It is well researched and written, and carries a wealth of information related to the mapping and profiling of poverty on the Planalto.

In other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, a key catalyst for the production of poverty data and analyses is the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) process. The PRSP process in Angola - or the “Strategy to Combat Poverty” - is ECP, which was initiated in the late 1990s. However, the process and report reveal a situation of lukewarm political will and weak institutional capacity for poverty data production and consultations.

Debates and dissemination

Attempts to focus public debate and attention on poverty were made through the ECP process in the early part of this decade, including a Poverty Observatory organised in 2003. The official media primarily carry stories on macro-economic indicators and public investments that currently show strong positive trends, not on the poverty situation per se. In fact, no social poverty data appear on the official website and a search on “pobreza” in the internet version of Jornal de Angola gives few results.

Looking at the private media, the Catholic Rádio Ecclésia has been banned for some time, and only transmits on FM in Luanda. This leaves the weekly newspapers, such as Angolense, Agora, Cruzeiro do Sul, Folha 8, and Capital as the main arena for public debate.

ADRA focuses its work in rural areas on the provinces of Huíla, Bié, Malanje and Uíge, and publishes its background studies through a regular publication series. The organisation also produces more targeted information material for its collaborative partners in local government and among local NGOs, for which socio-economic conditions and poverty are important.

Development Workshop regularly publishes scanned articles from the press on development issues, and they are in the process of developing a special website for the publication of development and poverty studies.

UNDP and the National Human Development Report have been important as a focus of attention and debate on socio-economic conditions between Angolan authorities and the international community. Unfortunately, the reports stopped coming out in 1999, and the 2004 report has only recently been made publicly available.


This report recommends that the Norwegian Embassy considers the following projects/ measures:
  • Support to INE and related institutions
  • Support to the National Household Survey (IDR)
  • Support for the creation of an annual poverty report (“Relatório Anual da Pobreza em Angola”)
  • Support for the establishment of a training centre for applied poverty research
  • Core grant to support younger social scientists
  • Institutional cooperation on poverty between UCAN/CEIC and CMI
  • Support for a conference on poverty research between researchers in Angola and Mozambique
The report also recommends that, in order to fund some of these projects/measures, the Norwegian Embassy, initially as an experiment, could use its grant contribution to leverage base funding from oil companies for policy research if this is compatible with national regulations and oil company policies. If successful, this may lead to longer-term arrangements and also encourage other donors to do the same.

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