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Livelihoods in Angola  

Rural livelihoods in Angola are predominantly based on rainfed agriculture and livestock farming as well as artisanal fisheries near rivers and lakes. They are complemented and diversified by the collection, use and trade of a range of natural products ensuring survival for the very poor, especially during hard periods, such as drought. In Angola, as elsewhere in southern Africa, the livelihoods of rural households and communities critically depend on secure land tenure and natural resource access rights - which, in turn, are determined or influenced by prevailing land policies and laws.

Breaking new ground for agriculture in Angola.
Source: Tump 2004
( click to enlarge )

Following independence in 1975, the MPLA-dominated communist regime in Angola nationalised all land. Under the recently proclaimed new Land Law (2004) the principle of state ownership of land has been upheld (ARD/USAID 2008). Most rural land continues to be managed under different forms of communal (customary) land tenure, with varying degrees of de facto individualisation of land holdings in areas where more modern methods of land use and management have evolved and taken hold. All commercially oriented rural land use initiatives (e.g. commercial irrigation schemes) require leasehold permits.

Generally, rural livelihoods in the communal land tenure areas are predominantly based on subsistence or near-subsistence rain-fed agriculture (Crop Cultivation and/or Livestock Farming) as well as Artisanal Fisheries in locations along or near rivers and lakes. However, traditionally most rural households also gather various plants and hunt to supplement food supllies, find medicines, or collect fuel. They also use natural resources as materials for construction or handicrafts, and to a lesser extent for trading and sale on local markets.

Local market in Lubango, Angola.
Source: Tump 2006
( click to enlarge )

Collection, own use, and limited trade of such natural products, along with limited, and mostly informal employment and cash income opportunities also supplement rural livelihoods, contributing to their diversification and hence greater sustainability. These supplementary livelihoods may become a critical last resort for rural households or communities enduring extreme poverty or during calamities such as prolonged drought.




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