Menu ENN Search

Huambo: an impending disaster?

By Anna Taylor SCF-UK

Update on the current situation

The last edition of Field Exchange included an account of discussions on how food aid should be targeted in the siege town of Huambo situated in the Plan Alto region of Angola1. The article illustrated that 6 months of discussions took place before consensus could be reached that there were no advantages to targeting food aid as the entire population experienced a very similar degree of food insecurity.
Between November 1999 and May 2000 full monthly rations were given four times in a general distribution (excluding only those living in the concrete city) in the areas covered by WFP. ICRC allocated more regular half rations in their areas of responsibility. In May the ration stopped following a WFP/FAO Crop assessment which concluded that the recent harvest would meet the peoples' food need for two months. ICRC continued however to distribute seed and food for seed protection.

In May 2000 malnutrition rates reached their lowest levels since the fighting resumed in December 1998 (see graph) but were still high (10% global, 4% severe) relative to baseline levels (global 4%). The reduced levels of malnutrition are likely to be a consequence of high quantities of relief food distributed in the preceding period and the maintenance of a low price of maize (in real terms). Low prices were probably due to the food aid and the increase in the amount of trade taking place between the city and its broader hinterland.

Future prospects - Food aid policy

In June 2000, WFP published a strategy paper2 for distribution of relief food in Angola. The strategy states "Now is an appropriate transition time for WFP to replace large scale free food distributions with a more targeted approach, based on strict registration criteria and self targeted safety nets."

The recommended beneficiary groups were as follows:

  1. Current WFP case load to continue to receive a free food ration until May 2001.
  2. From May 2001:

While the strategy paper clearly states that the targeting will not begin until May 2001, there are indications that these strategies are already being implemented. In Casseque 3, the only IDP camp in Huambo and which accommodates many of the most recently displaced the general ration was stopped, rations were targeted to specific vulnerable groups, and food for work implemented. It is unclear whether WFP are being forced to revert to targeting by reduced donor commitments and resulting scarcity of food aid resources or whether the strategy is based upon some other rationale.

Potential consequences for the emergency affected population

Huambo is a city with an estimated 250,000 people living in the biarros. In order to feed itself over the next four months (until February when the next harvest begins) the population will need approximately 17,000MT maize3. There are a limited number of sources of maize in Huambo:

  1. Maize grown within the city itself. An assessment conducted by Save the Children in August indicated that maize produced by households with access to land (and therefore not including any of the displaced) amounted to approximately 5% of their annual food needs.
  2. Maize brought into the city through trade. In recent months, security has allowed maize from the countryside to be traded in the city. This supply may however start to decline as the rains are about to begin and security often deteriorates in the wet season.
  3. Maize brought into the city by the humanitarian community. ICRC intend to continue to distribute food over the coming months. WFP however, whose food distribution has covered the greater part of the city in the past appear to be on the verge of changing over to a safety net targeted general ration as outlined above.

If 17,000MT maize does not come into the city from these sources over the next four months, the consequences for nutritional status are likely to be severe and cases of malnutrition are likely to increase dramatically4. An estimated 80% of households would not be able to meet food needs if there were a small increase in the price of maize because they rely almost entirely on purchasing their food. If the WFP strategy is implemented as outlined above then it is possible that a situation will be reached whereby the population has to wait to become malnourished or at clinical risk of malnutrition before they receive food assistance through the targeted supplementary feeding centres.

Emergency preparedness in nutrition programming

SCF are closely monitoring the following:

  1. Nutritional status. - through nutritional surveys.
  2. Admission rates in feeding centres.
  3. Readmission rates in feeding centres.
  4. Duration of stay and weight gain of registered children
  5. Proportion of admissions over five years of age

Conclusions

The prospects in the short term for the population of Huambo are bleak. Lack of donor commitment and inappropriate strategies risk placing the lives of many in jeopardy. The international community will be forced to respond when malnutrition rates reach extreme levels, but seem reluctant to act to prevent this occurring. The immediate restoration of the general food distribution appears to be the only practical way of supplying the city with adequate quantities of food in the time frame required.

Show footnotes

1Gostelow, L., Reflections on food and nutrition interventions in Huambo. Field exchange July 2000 Issue 10

2Report of the mission to review distribution strategies in Angola. Conclusions and Recommendations. June 2000.

3Based on needing an average of 0.5kg maize per day

4The best available estimate of the quantity of food required from the humanitarian community for the period October 2000 - March 2001 is that provided in 1999/ 2000. The relief food supplied in that period (9,000 -10,000 tons) was sufficient to hold prices roughly constant.

More like this

FEX: Reflections on food and nutrition interventions in Huambo

By Lola Goselow This article is based on a field trip made by Lola Gostelow (SCF HQ emergency advisor) to the SCF programme in Huambo province, Angola in November 1999. The...

FEX: Recurrent pellagra in Angola

Summary of report* Since March 1999, successive waves of people have arrived in the town of Kuito, Angola, displaced by fighting in their native Bie province. As a result,...

FEX: Postscript to 'Outbreak of micronutrient deficiency disease'. By David Fletcher, WFP Kenya

by David Fletcher, Deputy Country Director, WFP/Kenya WFP Kenya would like to address some of the points made in the article entitled, "Outbreak of micronutrient deficiency...

FEX: Distributing food (Special Supplement 1)

Food may be distributed in many different ways but the method of distribution will, to a large extent, depend on the eligible groups and the method for identifying them....

FEX: Determining eligibility (Special Supplement 1)

Children are often a group targeted in emergencies Eligibility criteria, i.e. the characteristics of those individuals or households to be targeted with food, arise from the...

FEX: Introduction (Special Supplement 1)

Glossary ACF Action Contre la Faim BMI Body Mass Index CMT Community Managed Targeting CSB Corn Soya Blend DFID Department for International Development FFW Food...

FEX: References for Special Supplement 1

Women selling food in South Sudan AbuSaleh A, 1993. Cost effectiveness of feeding programs in Hartisheik A camp, for Somali refugees, Ethiopia 1988-1989. Unpublished report...

FEX: A pellagra epidemic in Kuito, Angola

By Sophie Baquet and Michelle van Herp Sophie Baquet is the headquarter nutritionist in MSF Belgium and Michel van Herp, Headquarters epidemiologist in MSF Belgium. This...

FEX: Rapid impact on malnutrition through a multi-faceted programme in Wolayita, Southern Ethiopia

By Kate Sadler Kate Sadler undertook her MSc in Public Health and Nutrition at LSHTM. She has spent over 3 years working for Concern Worldwide in Burundi, Rwanda and...

FEX: Advocacy from Eritrea: working with WFP

By Hassan Taifour Hassan Taifour is the Emergency Response Nutritionist for SC(UK). He graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Khartoum in 1985 and completed...

FEX: Monitoring the targeting system (Special Supplement 1)

In the past, little emphasis has been placed on monitoring what happens to food aid after it has reached the distribution point. Donor reporting has been limited to the...

FEX: Assessment of community based targeting from a gender perspective

Summary of Report1 During 2000 community based targeting of emergency food aid was introduced into Kenya. WFP were instrumental in promoting and implementing the...

FEX: Afghanistan: who is to blame?

"If you look at the past year or so, you could blame the Taliban, but you must look to the roots of the crisis" Anuradha Mittall, Institute for Food and Development Policy,...

FEX: Does food aid support or undermine livelihoods? (Special Supplement 3)

4.1 Introduction A WFP ship carrying food aid docks in Indonesia Food aid remains the over-riding response to emergencies, regularly constituting over half of consolidated...

FEX: Emergency food-based programming in urban settings

Summary of published research1 Children attending Stara School, Nairobi, that receives WFP food support. The Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance 11 (FANTA-2) Project has...

FEX: Outbreak of micronutrient deficiency disease: did we respond appropriately?

By Dianne Stevens, Patricia Araru and Buwa Dragudi, Save the Children (UK) Dianne Stevens is a nutritionist with a Masters in Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She has been...

FEX: Meeting Syrian refugee children and women nutritional needs in Jordan

By Henry Sebuliba and Farah El-Zubi Henry Sebuliba is a Nutrition Programme Officer at the World Food Programme Regional Emergency Coordination Unit in Amman, Jordan. A Public...

FEX: WFP’s emergency programme in Syria

By Rasmus Egendal and Adeyinka Badejo Rasmus Egendal has more than 20 years of experience in international development and humanitarian aid assistance. Currently he is serving...

FEX: Cash voucher programme and rabbit raising intervention in Gaza

By Elena Qleibo, Ena’am Abu Nada, Wassem Mushtaha and Julie Campbell Elena Qleibo is the Oxfam Food Security Coordinator for the Gaza programme. She has been working in...

FEX: Addressing acute malnutrition in Cameroon during an emergency: Results and benefits of an integrated prevention programme

View this article as a pdf By Eveline Ngwenyi, Mica Jenkins, Nicolas Joannic and Cécile Patricia Eveline Ngwenyi is a Nutrition Officer with World Food Programme (WFP)...

Close

Reference this page

Anna Taylor (2000). Huambo: an impending disaster?. Field Exchange 11, December 2000. p25. www.ennonline.net/fex/11/huambo

(ENN_3474)

Close

Download to a citation manager

The below files can be imported into your preferred reference management tool, most tools will allow you to manually import the RIS file. Endnote may required a specific filter file to be used.