Despite its vast natural resources, Angola remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Sixty eight percent of the population lives below the poverty line and the life expectancy rate is just 42 years. As the country is emerging from a 30-year civil war, restoring the social sectors is vital to reconstruction, reintegration and human development. The Angolan government, supported by the humanitarian community, has been able to reduce lingering pockets of vulnerability to some extent by increasing the delivery of social services throughout the country, but much remains to be done.
During 2005, the OCHA-supported Transitional Coordination Unit (TCU) moved from traditional humanitarian coordination and reporting towards the promotion of transitional activities in the provinces. Through the Technical Unit for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (UTCAH), OCHA/TCU received a firm commitment that the government was ready to assume full responsibility for the coordination of remaining humanitarian activities. In turn, the UN system concentrated its support on strengthening the government’s capacity to coordinate assistance and deliver basic services. At the end of the year, OCHA/TCU handed over its UN responsibilities to the newly created Resident Coordinator’s Unit (RCU).
• Ensure that local coordination mechanisms are in place to facilitate the improved delivery of basic social services to vulnerable populations by supporting the government in coordinating assessments and community appraisals for humanitarian and transitional needs
• Ensure that protection and human right safeguards are integrated into resettlement and return programs
• Consolidate the transfer of core coordination functions to the relevant government authorities, define capacity building needs for decentralized coordination at municipal and communal levels, and identify appropriate implementation partners
• Support provincial governments in establishing coordination structures for disaster management and ensure that the government’s early warning capacity is established through the transfer of know-how and core competencies
Through a network of international and national field advisors, OCHA/TCU coordinated field efforts, collected information including lessons learned, advocated at the central, provincial and local levels, and worked to strengthen the capacity of local partners. It also monitored the humanitarian situation, including human rights and protection concerns, and maintained an early warning system on developing needs. OCHA/TCU assisted the humanitarian community with advice and coordination activities, and convened fora to exchange information, discuss issues relevant to transition and monitor projects to avoid gaps and prevent duplication.
Throughout the year, OCHA/TCU provided timely and relevant information on the overall situation, including specific needs or trends, and coordinated a common UN information strategy. It also monitored and verified reports of human rights abuses, politically related violence and other protection issues in the provinces, in collaboration with local partners, government and UN Agencies.
OCHA/TCU identified capacity building needs at both provincial and national levels as they arose, and developed activities to address those needs. It assisted UTCAH in following up on the recommendations of the joint IDP evaluation of April 2005, and assessed government-led provincial coordination mechanisms and personnel needs, including in areas such as disaster management and early warning.
OCHA/TCU-led coordination meetings of UN Agencies, NGOs and donors were held on a monthly basis. Analytical reports such as the UN Bi-monthly Bulletin and monthly provincial reports were disseminated on a regular basis, and helped provide a concise and accurate picture of the humanitarian situation and response. In order to ensure continued UN coordination, a proposal was developed for a Resident Coordinator’s Unit (RCU). Following approval of the proposal, four field offices, 12 staff members and relevant assets were transferred from OCHA/TCU to the RCU.
The completion of a lessons-learned report on the OCHA/TCU experience (July 2004-December 2005) was crucial to OCHA’s ongoing work of capturing the lessons learned from various field offices, particularly large operations such as the one in Angola. The report will serve as part of an in house toolbox for OCHA staff working on countries in transition.
In the area of protection, OCHA/TCU engaged in field monitoring as well as advocacy and liaison with provincial authorities, the Ministry of Justice, national police, The UN Human Rights Office and UN Department of Safety and Security on incidents of politically-related violence. This work led to a higher awareness of protection concerns among the various stakeholders and helped provide transparency about instances where human rights were not respected. All OCHA/TCU field advisors also participated in a UN Human Rights Office led training of trainers for protection monitoring and helped share the experience accumulated during the work of OCHA/TCU.
As part of an effort to transfer coordination functions from OCHA/TCU to the government, UTCAH led coordination mechanisms were established in eight provinces. Joint OCHA/TCU UTCAH work plans were also developed in 15 provinces, as part of capacity-building workshops. A strong emphasis was placed on joint monitoring, including early warning indicators. For example, joint assessment missions were organised to support return and reintegration, verify reports of human rights abuses, assess food insecurity and vulnerability, and to provide information on public health trends and disease surveillance. In one instance, a joint assessment mission led the UN and the government to reach agreement on the total number of IDPs in Angola, even though initial estimates had been far apart. This consensus greatly facilitated the subsequent joint planning of the response to the needs of the IDP population.