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How is globalisation affecting the lives of the 3.4 million inhabitants of the Angolan capital, Luanda? Can the state use wealth from oil and diamonds to lift the city’s poor out of poverty? Can civil society release the potential of the poor to become development actors?
Research from Heriot-Watt University’s Centre for Environment and Human Settlements reviews the impact of globalisation on Luanda from colonial days to the present. Arguing the need for being proactive rather than simply accepting the marginalisation of the poor, it calls for efforts to address issues of social inequity and to build locally relevant development models.
Since its foundation in the earliest phase of Portuguese colonialism in the 16th Century, Luanda has been pushed about by globalisation. Whether as a port serving the slave trade and later, colonial agriculture, or as a haven for people fleeing villages and rural towns ruined by a war prolonged by international interests, Luanda has been affected by external forces.
Most Luandans live in informal, self-constructed settlements without basic infrastructure and services. With the state budget devoted mainly to the war effort, little formal urban development has been attempted until recently. Official thinking seems dominated by the incorrect assumption that the internally displaced desire, and expect, to return home and that the musseques (shantytowns) will disappear. It is anticipated that the government may, due to the ending of the war, start forcing people to relocate into agriculture-oriented ‘growth’ poles around the capital if they do not relocate voluntarily.
Since independence, Angola has developed an economic system characterised by:
The paper argues that the creation of equitable social and economic development policies in Angola depends both on local civil society and on international advocacy to counteract the global inequality in the centre-periphery relations being reinforced within the concept of ‘globalisation’. It calls for:
In a specific instance of such strategic development work, the NGOs Development Workshop (DW) and One World Action (OWA) have begun researching urban land management options. While this research focuses on the important urban land issue, it is linked to rural land issues where a wide grouping of civil society organisations, with international agency support, are active in the Land Network (Rede Terra). How these local initiatives become strategically acceptable to the state is the key current development focus.
‘Local responses to globalization and peripheralization in Luanda, Angola’, Environment and Urbanization 14/1: Globalization and cities, by Paul Jenkins, Paul Robson and Allan Cain, 2002 Full document.
Development Workshop in Angola Full document.
One World Action provides links to further research on poverty in Luanda Full document.
Funded by: Development Workshop, DFID
id21 Research Highlight: 6 February 2003
Centre for Environment and Human Settlements
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See more publications from One World Action
'Poverty vs. conflict: understanding Africa's wars'
'Strangers, honey and hardship: the lot of Angolan refugees in enterprise beekeeping in North West Zambia'
'Globalisation: a threat or a promise for the rural poor?'
Search Eldis for further links to globalisation research