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Angola, a country full of hope

This past July, our General Director, José Ignacio González-Aller and our Project Director, Marcello Gandolfi visited our team in Angola, where CODESPA has been present since 2010.  Juan Ramón García was there waiting for them with more than 30 Angolans who are part of the delegation.  José Ignacio recounts his experiences from this extraordinary trip with the purpose of bringing us closer to the realities of some of the most vulnerable people. 


Poverty in figures

Angola is a country with harsh weather conditions. Its habitants have learned how to adapt to these conditions over 100 years ago thanks to livelihood multiplication: agriculture during the rainy season, raising small livestock (hens or goats), gathering wild fruits and roots and bartering in the local markets for basic items. 

But currently, Angola is facing the worst drought they’ve ever had in the last 40 years, which has provoked the loss of 2 of the livelihoods mentioned: agriculture and animals that have died due to lack of water. This causes a terrible feeding problem. 

One of the zones that has been most affected is the Cunene province, located in the southern part of the country. It’s a semi-arid region with scarce seasonal rain. It is crossed by the abundantly flowing Cunene river, but the locals do not have access to it due to the missing pumps and watering systems. 

On route to the Kanunu community, in the town of Curoca, province of Cunene in Angola.


CODESPA is the only Spanish and International ONG with a presence in Cunene. In this hidden land we built a small house in the town of Curoca, that functions as an office and place to stay for our technicians. The team is formed by various specialist coordinators, with field technicians that travel by motorcycle around the impassable dirt roads. Each coordinator tends to 6 communities that they visit once every week. 

During the trip, we’ve had the opportunity to meet many of our beneficiaries. To the exception of some, a large part are in a subsistence situation, meaning they are starving, they don’t have coats (nights are the coldest at this time of year), nor homes, not even water. 

Our biggest challenge is that they go from this extreme subsistence situation to a mild subsistence situation, meaning they have enough to eat and cover their basic needs.

Our office in Ondjiva. Pictured are CODESPA team members, Juan Ramón García and Marcello Gandolfi.


Step by step to reach the goal

Our projects seek to enhance recovery and improvement of their livelihoods. To achieve this, the first action we take is the installation of water pumps close to the river, rehabilitation and recuperation of water points closest to the communities to alleviate the water shortage. 

After that, we organize a field school in all of the communities. This is an open space where farmers receive weekly classes on the best agricultural techniques to then replicate the models in their home plots. The teachings are varied depending on the needs in that zone. From cultivating vegetables and fruit trees by drip irrigation to managing a seed bank or correctly storing the surplus production inside of cans. 

In any case, we try to adapt their agrarian system and share the techniques to create products made of wild fruit: honey, marmalades, etc. that not only serves as food during the dry season, they can also exchange at the market for other items like grains, clothes or tools. 

Himba woman, native to the arid region of Cunene, a beneficiary of this project.

Family agriculture

It’s important that each family feels part of this transformation and that within the family nucleus they acquire these resources and skills to diversify their livelihoods and help improve their community. We’re able to summarize our projects under these three basic principles:  

  • Access to water, centralized in rehabilitating and recuperating pre-existing water points close to the communities by installing water pumps to allow water flow. 
  • Adoption of techniques from Climate-Smart Agriculture. Promotion of sustainable agricultural techniques that adapt to the climate and the country and community’s circumstances. For example, delivering drought resistant seeds and the use of organic manures and fertilizers (made within that community). 
  • Guaranteed security. Gives importance to the multiplicity of the production to create artesanal products that can be sold later (or bartered). It also favors the care of small animals and also, the importance of health and hygiene is valued. 
Members of Muhakaona plowing and fertilizing the earth, planting eggplant and potatoes; in the town of Curoca,         Province of Cunene.


Leaders of change

María Lucrecia is one of the beneficiaries who, thanks to her participation at the field school in her community, has been able to see a change in her mentality, self- esteem and her work. She is a facilitator in Capanga and owns a home plot close to the river that she can now extract water from.  

“Before, we didn’t care about agriculture. At school we’ve learned about many techniques that are good for our day to day life. Now we know how to make the most out of our crop, take care of it, harvest, treat the water for our consumption, and when to eat the harvested crop. This is very good for our health. With all that I’ve learned, I feel able to help improve my community.”
Maria Lucrecia works as an intermediary between the team and the communities in the area of Capanga.

Close to poverty, always in alliance 

At the capital, Luanda, we met with many of our allies like the European Union, Camões Institute, Gherda Barreto and Anastacio Roque Gonçalves, representatives of the FAO in the country. We also visited Manuel María Lejarreta Lobo, Spanish Ambassador in Angola and a friend of the organization. 

Forging alliances is part of CODESPA’s heart of work. We are conscious that the collaboration with the right parties is an important part of the guaranteed success in every one of our projects.

On the left we are with the Spanish Ambassador in Angola. On the right, we are with members of the FAO.

Currently, the three projects we have in Cunene help 5,487 families, aside from all of the people that do not directly participate in the projects that still benefit from these great achievements.