Following independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola descended into a civil war that killed 500,000 people and lasted until 2002. The 2002 death of UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi ushered in the beginning of peace for Angolans. Yet, as Angola begins to rebuild it faces significant challenges. The 27-year-long war displaced 3.8 million people, disrupted economic activity, and destroyed most of the country’s infrastructure. More than three quarters of Angola’s population now live in extreme poverty. More than 85% depend on subsistence agriculture, yet much of the country’s farmable land is riddled with land mines and ownership of the land is unclear in many areas, discouraging investment and long-term improvements.

Our past programs include:

USAID property rights and resources governance program.

In coordination with the Angolan Government, USAID and FAO, Landesa conducted two land tenure assessments: 1) a study of the land rights of agriculturalists, subsistence farmers, cooperatives, and other stakeholders to land in two regions of the Benguela Province to evaluate the implications of proposed commercial agriculture development on the land rights of small farmers and government capacity to enforce existing land laws; and 2) an assessment of land and natural resource tenure in Kuando-Kubango Province to uncover the implications of passage of a new law governing forestry, wildlife and protected areas and of conversion of a large region in the province to protected area status. February 2009 to January 2010.

In coordination with USAID and the Angolan Government, Landesa researched and prepared a legal framework for the formalization of land rights. That included designing program and operational manuals. The project also included developing a land conflict adjudication system and studying the role of gender in the process. October 2006 to 2009.

Land law and regulatory development (USAID).

Landesa provided ongoing assistance to civil society NGOs and the Government of Angola in the development of the regulations needed for the overlying land law. Issues of particular focus included customary common property rights (including cattle grazing), formalization of land rights based upon occupation, land dispute resolution, land titling and registration, and land market transactions. The assistance was primarily in the form of review of draft regulations and of ongoing advocacy through land-related NGOs. October 2003 to May 2008.

Angola land law and policy assessment (USAID).

Landesa conducted a review of proposed land legislation created after the April 2002 peace accord signed between the MPLA government and UNITA rebel forces. As a part of the needed fact-finding effort, Landesa conducted key informant interviews with government, NGO, and donor representatives in Luanda and two provinces. Landesa also conducted rural fieldwork in two provinces, including interviews at a quartering camp where UNITA rebels and their families were put until their resettlement could be arranged. In addition, Landesa interviewed internally displaced people. The primary focus included the legal and policy treatment of common property resources and regimes, reconciliation of land disputes, feasibility of a land registration system and pilot projects, legal education and advocacy, development of related civil society forces, and land rights for internally displaced persons. Landesa provided recommendations for follow-on activities on the part of the donor community, USAID, NGOs, and the Angolan government. September 2002 to March 2003.