Only children aged under eight in Angola have been born outside of war, a crippling war that saw over a million dead and as many as four million displaced. The war saw 80% of the country's schools damaged or destroyed, roads rendered unusable preventing food getting to outlying areas and a breakdown in health care. Many of these children headed towards the cities where they eke out a life on the streets. Its a sobering fact that whilst physically 45% of children in Angola suffer from malnutrition, emotionally around half of all children in the worst war torn areas of Angola have been shot at, lost their homes, or seen neighbours and members of their families killed. Worse still, during the war years, an estimated 300,000 children were recruited by both government and rebel armed forces to be used in such macabre ways as slaves, human shields and mine detectors as well as killers.
Today, with nearly half of Angola's population aged under 15 years old, the situation is better, though those scars run deep. There is widespread trafficking in Angola with boys being shipped to Namibia to herd cattle whilst girls are trafficked both internally and externally to South Africa, Namibia and the Democratic Republic of Congo for domestic servitude. Despite these facts, Angola has been making progress towards its Millennium Development goals, the targets of which below relate to children in Angola:
Target 1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day
Target 2. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
Target 3. Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling
Target 4. Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and to all levels of education no later than 2015
Target 5. Reduce by two thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate
Target 6. Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio
Target 10. Halve by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water
Target 11. By 2020 to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers
Since these goals were set, a United Nations Children's Fund and the government of Angola survey found that malnutrition rates for children have gone down, child survival rates have improved by around 20% and more children than ever before are enrolled in primary school with the number of girls attending the same as for boys. However despite such progress, many children in Angola are still vulnerable to changes in local conditions. There is currently a drought that is affecting ten provinces of Angola which has hit agricultural production together with increased reports of water shortages. This drought has left close to half a million without secure food and water supplies leading to leading to an increase in admissions of severely malnourished children in Angola’s therapeutic feeding centres, particularly in Huambo, Bié and Kwanza Sul. Above right a short video about children in Angola.
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A short video documentary about street children in Angola and the daily challenges they face.
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