People's needs keep growing, creating an endless cycle, says Aneta Jelínková, discussing aid in Africa

Published: Jul 4, 2023 Reading time: 4 minutes
field activity in Namibe-Angola, Omande Win project
© Foto: Edson Malongo

We have been working in Angola since 2006, cooperating with international institutions in the field of health care, including HIV prevention and treatment.

Since when and in what areas has People in Need been helping in Angola?

Since 2006, we have been in Angola. After the war ended, we immediately focused on providing the quickest and most urgent aid. The main challenge in the region is widespread drought and the lack of potable water for people, livestock and agriculture in general. 

Where is the greatest need for humanitarian assistance in drought and drinking water scarcity?

In southern Angola, we focus on supporting smallholder farmers and agriculturalists to increase their resilience to drought. At the same time, we work to ensure access to drinking water for those who need it most and to improve nutritional conditions. This immediate assistance is essential, but we also focus on the country's long-term development. An important issue for us is the position of women in society.

How are you trying to support local women and their position in society?

We support women and young people in employment and entrepreneurship through various training courses. We give them better access to the market and improve their living conditions. These priorities apply not only to Angola but also to the other African countries in which we operate, such as Zambia, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

What do you think is the most critical area of aid for African countries?

The biggest challenge we face is drought and lack of drinking water. We are improving by working with international organisations such as the European Union and the United Nations. We have broad support from our Friends Club, which allows us to respond quickly to the most pressing issues.

Is helping to improve healthcare in African countries also a priority for you?

In the area of female hygiene and menstruation, we are now implementing a project to break down stereotypes and taboos related to menstruation . Female health care still poses some problems. Although the situation is gradually improving, people's needs continue to grow, creating an endless cycle.

How are you trying to open up these intimate topics and break down taboos within African society?

We are working to break down taboo topics through education and collaboration with schools, girls, traditional leaders and churches. Sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, are still a significant problem. Although not a health organisation, we provide voice messages and collaborate with health organisations and hospitals, focusing primarily on prevention and treatment.

Can you give us an overview of the situation regarding HIV in Angola?

Although the situation is improving, the rate of HIV-positive people remains high. Several initiatives seek to support the fight against this problem. However, it is still a significant proportion of the population, particularly in southern Angola.

How would you assess the overall standard of living of the people in Angola?

The number of people in acute need or with food insecurity continues to grow. In the south of Angola alone, the number is in the millions. Scarcity is linked to a persistent drought of several years. Development needs are constantly increasing as Angola's population proliferates.

How big is the difference between people's living standards?

The contrast between the areas with skyscrapers and less affluent areas is stunning. Many people live without access to drinking water and other essential services. The greater the development, the more likely birth rates will be reduced due to better access to health care. However, these changes are slow.

How has the work and the aid field changed under the Czech leadership of People in Need in Angola in 2006?

Our activities in the field have not changed substantially during our tenure. Instead, our projects change according to needs. We have seen much progress in civil society. Young people, especially women, are active in entrepreneurship and development. However, the needs, especially in agriculture in the context of the drought, are increasing. Most of our work takes place on the ground, where our local staff assist daily. My role in the office is limited primarily to administrative activities—the real work is done by my colleagues in the field.

The interview was published on Seznam Medium.

Aneta Jelínková
• She graduated from Charles University in Prague with a degree in Global Development and Migration Studies
• He will lead the People in Need programme in Angola from 2022
• Areas of focus include gender equality and social inclusion
• He has many years of experience in humanitarian aid, particularly in Africa and the Middle East
Autor: Alena Větrovcová

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