Angola - the rural version. Photo by Gilson Lázaro

This report is part of the research programme “Cooperation on Research and Development in Angola” between Centro de Estudos e Investigação Científica (CEIC) at the Catholic University in Luanda, Angola and Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Bergen, Norway. The objective of the programme is to increase the quality, quantity and availability of relevant research-based knowledge on Angola. The programme has several sub-projects in political science, economics and social science. This report on rural poverty in Malanje is related to the social science sub-project “Urban and Rural Poverty Dynamics”, and will be followed by a similar report on urban poverty in Luanda (forthcoming 2017).

Doing social science research on poverty and inequality in Angola is challenging. There is a dearth of aggregate statistical data showing the distribution of poverty over space and time, and there are practical hindrances at the local level ranging from lack of experience of being subject to studies of this nature to logistical problems in implementing data collection. This project has been based on a combination of the limited aggregate quantitative data that exist, and the collection of quantitative and qualitative primary data in carefully selected urban and rural sites centred on a ‘Reality Check’ approach.

1.2 Poverty in Angola

Existing aggregate information indicate that despite high economic growth the past couple of decades, poverty in Angola is severe. Angola’s ‘official’ poverty rate is 36.6 percent, with 18.7 percent for urban and 58.3 percent for rural areas (INE 2013; see also Vidal and de Andrade 2011). However, scholars and commentators argue that that the figures are too low and conceal considerable variations between and within different provinces and urban and rural social formations. The most common proxy for multidimensional poverty, the under-five/child mortality rate, has seen some improvements the past few years but remains exceptionally high at 17 percent – with 23 percent for rural and 15 percent for urban areas (UNICEF 2015).

Angola is ranked number 150 out of 188 countries in the most recent Human Development Index despite its enormous oil wealth and high GDP per capita, implying exceptionally poor scores in terms of education and health indicators (UNDP 2016). Official data show that 30 percent of the population is illiterate and the mean years of schooling for an adult is 4.4 years; life expectancy at birth is 51.1 years; the child mortality rate is 167/1000; 42 percent of the population live without access to potable drinking water; and 60 percent lack sanitation facilities. The approximately one third of all households headed by women are poorer than those headed by a man (INE 2010, GdA 2015, INE 2016). Angola ranks 126 out of 145 countries in the 2013 Gender Gap Index (WEF 2016).

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