Angola has around 14 million inhabitants. After the end of a bloody civil war that dragged on from independence (1975) to 2002, the country is now experiencing some economic development, thanks to exportation of the raw materials that richly permeate its soil. Oil production in particular is registering constant growth; if this trend continues, Angola could shortly become Africa’s leading producer of crude oil.
|The fact that Angola has the potential to be one of the richest countries of the African continent has not done anything for 90% of its population, which still lives in conditions of abject poverty. The national life expectancy is 41 years for men and 40 for women, the infant mortality rate is 145 out of every 1000, and illiteracy is very high, especially among women and in rural areas. The country ranks in the 160th place (out of 177) in the Human Development Report published by the United Nations in 2005.|
|Nearly 30 years of civil war have destroyed industrial infrastructures, road and rail networks and seriously set back agriculture and the national zootechnics heritage.
One serious problem is that vast swathes of land have been littered with mines. It has been estimated that there are around 12 million mines on Angolan soil – practically one per inhabitant – and that they have injured or mutilated 80,000 people so far. Despite constant demining efforts, many rural areas are still infested by explosive ordinances.
|Difficult living conditions in rural areas have prompted many people to relocate to cities. The Angolan capital, Luanda, has seen its population double in the past decade, without however developing the necessary infrastructure to accommodate this increase.
Actually, Luanda sums up the contradiction of a country where oil wealth and diamonds are paving the way for distorted development.
Enormous construction sites for new skyscrapers (that will host offices for oil companies and banks) can be seen in the city but at the same time, a total lack of basic services may be noted too. Seventy percent of residents do not have access to electricity or drinking water (people can be seen drinking from water wells in the ground). The streets are full of four-wheel drive vehicles and scooters (petrol is obviously cheap) and traffic literally paralyses the city. When it rains, the streets themselves are often flooded due to a lack of pipes to accommodate and drain rain water.
|The first DREAM centre to open in this country is situated in Cubal, south of Luanda, in the province of Benguela. It is a year now since the Teresian Sisters launched it in a hospital run by th