Keeping the flow in Angola's slums

13 February 2009

Most of Angola’s people live in cities and large towns, places they moved to for safety during the two decades of civil war. But living conditions here are extremely poor, with essential services such as safe drinking water still in short supply.

In the slums of Luanda, the country's capital, a DFID-funded programme is helping to increase access to water, ensuring that more people have access to a vital resource. But the impact of the programme doesn't stop there - it is also giving communities greater control over the decisions that affect their lives.

Community action!

Through the programme, inhabitants of the musseques (as Angola's urban slums are known) form committees responsible for managing area water points. From these they dispense water to their neighbours, at much lower prices than those of private vendors. They are also in charge of keeping the water points clean and in good repair.

Daniel Gonga is a member of the water committee in Ngola Kiluange municipality. "Before the project we had no idea of what to do," he admits. "But in a short period of time, we were able to set up a committee and give it life. Now we have water - and in abundance!"

The water points in Ngola Kiluange have already had a major impact on the health of local people. "Because we had plenty of clean water, our community was the only one to escape a recent cholera outbreak," says Daniel.

Empowering citizens

Since the community took over the management of the water points, Luanda's water supplies have doubled. And there have been other benefits too.

Running the water points has seen residents establish successful working relationships with local authorities, opening up opportunities to influence the provision of further services, such as power and sewerage.

For André Kivuandinga (left), who lives in Sambizanga municipality, the changes to community life have been radical.

"We were already organised in one way or another," says André of the days before the programme, "but our work within the community was not consistent. We were keen to participate in local development, but had no way of doing it."

"Then the programme started and, in a blink, our lives were much easier. We learned the best ways of approaching, and collaborating with, the authorities. We learned how to influence their plans - and we've been able to go even higher up, to the provincial and national levels!"

This model of community participation is now being replicated in other cities, providing water and empowerment to over half a million people.

Facts and stats

  • Around one-third of Angolans live in Luanda, 57% of whom live in poverty.
  • The Luanda Urban Poverty Programme (LUPP) promotes access to basic services and improved livelihoods for poor people in Luanda. It has received £16.5 million from DFID since 1999.
  • LUPP has provided clean water at substantially reduced rates for 74,000 residents.
  • The programme also provides microfinance and business development services. For example, the programme has enabled the creation of an independent, financially sustainable Angolan organisation called Kixi-Credito with over 13,000 clients (62% women), loans totalling US$3.5 million, and repayment rates of 95%. It is the first non-bank microfinance institution in Angola.
  • LUPP's partners are Save the Children UK, Care International, Development Workshop (an Angolan non-governmental organisation) and One World Action.
Photo of Angolan man

Sambizanga resident and member of local water committee, André Kivuandinga