Cablegate: Reaping the Benefits of Peace in Kwanza Sul

DE RUEHLU #0317/01 1121701
P 211701Z APR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) SUMMARY: Devastated during Angola's 27-year civil war,
the once embattled province of Kwanza Sul is on the mend.
Ongoing U.S.-funded demining programs are key to the
government's success in reopening primary and secondary roads
and agricultural land. U.S. assistance in partnership with
Chevron is also stimulating revival of once-thriving coffee
production. U.S. partnership with Esso is helping to address
health and education needs. Nevertheless, huge challenges
remain, especially in inducing Angolans to return to the
under-populated countryside and in completing the task of
rebuilding the province's human and physical infrastructure.

Kwanza Sul: Emerging from the ashes

2. (U) Kwanza Sul is a rural coastal province of 12
municipalities covering 23,000 square miles. Its population
is estimated at 1,500,000; since the last census was
completed in 1970, provincial authorities do not have more
precise population data. The province is strategically
located; it shares borders with 6 other provinces and links
Luanda with the central interior. Kwanza Sul saw heavy
fighting and changed hands multiple times during Angola's
27-year civil war. In town and across the countryside, most
buildings and bridges were destroyed or damaged and primary
and secondary roads were heavily mined, as well as other
strategic points. All colonial-era factories in the province
were likewise destroyed, and economic activity, which once
made Kwanza Sul extremely productive, including exports of
coffee, cotton, and fish products, was reduced to
subsistence-level farming. During the war, a majority of the
population fled to urban centers in search of security and

3. (U) After six years of peace, Kwanza Sul,s economy is
coming back to life. The GRA is making extensive investments
in building and repairing the province,s infrastructure,
which has reconnected lush agricultural land in the interior
with coastal markets. During his April 8-10 tour of the
province, Ambassador Mozena heard from provincial governor
Sarafim do Prado that all primary roads have been demined and
main north-south roads have been paved; key secondary roads
into the interior have also been demined, graded and
repaired, and both temporary and permanent bridges have been
erected. These investments cut travel time to remote parts of
the province in half, and access to markets is pushing the
rapid expansion of agricultural production. Note: The
quality of the road work is questionable at best; the roads
often lack adequate drainage, and roads completed by Chinese
contractors as recently as 5 months ago are already showing
signs of severe degradation. End note

4. (U) Investment is also underway in the province's urban
areas. Prado told the Ambassador that the GRA has contracted
the Brazilian company, Odebrecht, to rebuild and repair
infrastructure and key buildings in the urban centers of
Sumbe, Porto Amboim, and Gabela through a Brazilian line of
credit. Five municipalities in Kwanza Sul are each receiving
from the central government three to five million USD
annually as part of the GRA's decentralization pilot program.

Demining for Economic Growth

5. (U) The landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) that
litter the countryside impede rapid expansion of agricultural
production, threaten lives and restrict access to land and
economic growth. The 2007 Landmine Impact Survey identified
269 areas of suspected landmine contamination, which affect
169 communities in the provinces.

6. (U) Demining projects by the USG-funded NGO Norwegian
People's Aid (NPA), make clear role of landmine and UXO
clearance in returning land to productive use, restoring
access to water and enabling economic growth. During the
Ambassador's visit to a rural village demined by NPA in 2005,
the village administrator thanked the USG for its assistance
and described how cultivation of the demined fields led to
increased agricultural production which, for the first time,
enabled the village to produce beyond the subsistence level.
Today, the village not only runs a thriving roadside market,
but also sells its produce to distributors in the provincial
capital of Sumbe.

Opportunities Brewing for Angolan Coffee

7. (U) The GRA is partnering with the USG-sponsored

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Cooperative League of the United States (CLUSA) and the U.S.
oil company Chevron to breathe new life into the province's
coffee industry. Kwanza Sul's 18,000 hectares of coffee
plantations and small farms currently average 130 tons per
hectare, as compared with the 800-1000 ton colonial-era
average. CLUSA's programs have connected 4,000 small farmers
with micro credit, training on modern coffee production
techniques, and seedlings from the National Coffee Institute
to help farmers replace old trees and increase production.
As production increases, CLUSA is also connecting farmers
with the market. During the Ambassador's meeting with small
coffee producers in Gabela, CLUSA representatives explained
that the province's Amboim Robusta coffee is highly sought
after for its blending properties, and that each year farmers
cannot come close to the demand from foreign buyers.

8. (U) In addition, the GRA is exploring ways to support
increased production in the region's remaining large coffee
plantations, which continue to face the twin challenges of
lack of capital and manpower. The governor stated that, in
many cases, coffee growers cannot expand production because
they cannot afford the manual labor needed in the province's
rocky, hilly terrain, which precludes the use of mechanical
means. Coffee production in the colonial era was fueled by
forced and contract labor brought into the province from
southern Angola.

Expansion in the Heath and Education Sectors

9. (U) The GRA is increasing capacity in the health sector.
All of the province's 12 municipal capitals now have
hospitals, and health clinics are increasingly common at the
district and sometimes village levels. Many challenges
remain, and a lack of qualified staff has delayed the opening
of some hospitals and clinics. The provincial government
relies entirely on doctors and nurses contracted by the
central government to staff hospitals and health centers;
most are Cuban, North Korean, Russian or Vietnamese.
Qualified medical professionals are rarely available beyond
the municipal capital level, and even there facilities and
resources are limited. The Kibala Municipal Hospital
pediatrician told the Ambassador that he diagnoses up to half
of malaria cases by symptoms alone because he does not have
time to use the rapid test kits, which are also regularly out
of stock. Local health professionals noted that malaria
remains the number one killer of children under five in the
province, and expressed appreciation for assistance from the
President's Malaria Initiative's for helping defeat malaria,
especially though training and the anti-malarial drug
Coartem. With PMI's assistance there is now sufficient
Coartem to supply all heath facilities in the province;
municipal administrators are currently working with the
USG-funded NGO Africare to make the drug available at all
levels of the health care system, and to improve diagnosis of

More challenges abound in education

10. (U) Progress and challenges are also evident in the
education sector. The governor told the Ambassador that 90
percent of school-aged children are now in school, compared
with only 55 percent in 2002. These numbers, however, mask
the fact that school is mandatory only through the eighth
grade; past this level children are not considered "school
age." As there are no high schools outside of municipal
capitals, most rural students never have an opportunity to
continue beyond primary school. Staffing also remains a
problem, especially in the rural interior of the province.
The Kibala municipal administrator told the Ambassador that
the Ministry of Education has funded 100 teaching positions
in the municipality, but this school year they were able to
find only 48 qualified teachers. The province is working to
expand its teacher training program; people over age 18 and
who have completed the 8th grade can complete a certification
program to become teachers. Provincial authorities are
rightly concerned about the quality of education such
"teachers" provide.

11. (U) COMMENT: Kwanza Sul is a province in which the
benefits of peace are manifested concretely by communities,
villages and fields slowly coming back to life. Hope is in
the faces of many of the providence,s residents, and local
government is generally committed to the enormous task of
making life better for its citizens. Despite the progress
made over the past six years, the road ahead to reviving the
cities, towns, and countryside of Kwanza Sul is long. In
addition to the task of rebuilding a human and physical
infrastructure that was totally destroyed by decades of war,

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the province must attract back the thousands of residents who
fled the war. The dribble of returnees thus far underscores
the enormity of this challenge. END COMMENT

© Scoop Media

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