Angola: Emergency Preparedness & Response
Humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation programmes are usually implemented on a temporary basis to save people’s lives, reduce suffering and help the victims of catastrophes get back on their feet. These programmes respond to a current crisis and are only provided until the affected country or region is reasonably capable of working independently. Humanitarian interventions are most frequently organized in the event of earthquakes, floods, famines caused by drought or war, and so on.
Typical humanitarian assistance and rehabilitation activities include:
- provision of shelter (temporary shelters, distribution of tents and tarpaulins),
- food distribution,
- provision of water and sanitation,
- distribution of medicines, blankets and other items,
- giving medical treatment,
- establishing refugee camps,
- offering temporary education and psychosocial assistance to disaster victims.
The next phase lays an emphasis on regional economic reconstruction (community work programmes, restoration of sources of livelihood), and then on the restoration of basic infrastructure, (e.g. repairing destroyed schools, health centres, houses, irrigation channels, etc.). At the same time, we consider it essential to work in the long term with the most vulnerable communities and build their resilience and ability to endure such disasters with the least possible loss of life and damage to health and property.
During all phases of assistance, maximum involvement of local people is of the essence to ensure that the disaster victims are not just passive recipients of aid, but rather those who, first and foremost, help themselves. Beneficiaries of aid may acquire material assistance for themselves in the local markets (using vouchers or funds they receive), while in other situations purchasing is performed centrally but in the region in question, ensuring that relief funds remain in that region, and distributed by our on-site teams. Humanitarian assistance is provided solely on the basis of need, without any bias towards the members of a particular ethnic group, religion or one of the parties to a conflict.
In Angola, People in Need’s humanitarian programmes have focused on acute water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance provided to Congolese refugees in northern Angola and on combating malnutrition in response to chronic drought in the central province of Bié.
Responding to acute sanitation and nutrition needs
In one component of the project, more than 6,200 children under the age of five were screened for malnutrition and referred to health units for treatment. In addition, health volunteers from local communities were trained to conduct the screenings and follow-up visits to the families of children with malnutrition, and to promote positive practices related to infant and young child feeding. Social mobilisers were additionally trained on the promotion of good hygiene practices, including hand washing, water management and purification, proper storage of food and water, etc., in order to multiply key messages in the communities and, in this way, positively influence people’s behaviour. These are important prevention measures, since it’s proven that sharing information about good hygiene and sanitation practices has a positive impact on the reduction of malnutrition cases caused by water-borne diseases and poor hygiene practices, such as diarrhoea and parasitic diseases. Furthermore, training courses based on the National Protocol were offered to health technicians, supporting their capacity to administer proper treatment, follow-up and evaluation, and to ensure that accurate data can be collected.
In line with the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach that has been successfully implemented by PIN for several years in Bié province, PIN staff in cooperation with mobilisers and municipal focal points also supported and monitored the process of construction of latrines by families – as per the standard CLTS line of action, communities themselves are responsible for the construction, using local materials available. In addition to that, approx. 1,500 hygiene kits were distributed to vulnerable families, with items like buckets, water purification tablets, soaps, sanitary pads and underwear. The priority group were women – heads of households, elderly, women with disabilities.
Awareness raising and distribution of hygiene kits have also been utilized in response to the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak.
Emergency response in refugee settlements
The follow-up project introduced the Children’s Hygiene and Sanitation Training (CHAST) approach for the existing child-friendly spaces to promote personal hygiene among children. The goal of the intervention is to prevent the emergence and spread of illnesses among refugees threatening their lives and further deterioration of already challenging situation.
Majority of the refugees has been already relocated from two reception centres and Dundo town to a settlement in Lóvua, where they were divided into small newly built villages. People in Need is using its experience with community approach to sanitation (Community Led Total Sanitation - CLTS) and Communitarian Water Management Model (MOGECA) which were successfully implemented as a part of development program in villages in the province of Bié in central Angola. Over 7,000 refugees have been already assisted thanks to this intervention.