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Last Updated: 09 October 2014

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

Overall Mine Action Performance: POOR[1]

Performance Indicator


Problem understood


Target date for completion of clearance


Targeted clearance


Efficient clearance


National funding of program


Timely clearance


Land release system


National mine action standards


Reporting on progress


Improving performance





The problem of landmines in the Republic of Angola stems from 40 years of internal armed conflict that began in 1961 and ended in April 2002. A range of national and foreign armed movements and groups engaged in mine-laying that was sometimes planned but more often unruly.

Historically, the most affected provinces have been those with the fiercest and most prolonged fighting, such as Bié, Kuando Kubango, and Moxico, and therefore the largest number of mined areas were concentrated in those provinces.[2] However, almost every province is affected to some extent by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). The precise extent of contamination is, though, still not well understood in most provinces.

Angola has reported widely differing datasets describing the extent of its mine problem owing to persistent difficulties in gathering and managing mine action data that remain unresolved, despite significant investment of time and resources over two decades.

Contaminated area as reported by CNIDAH in 2007–2014[3]



Area (km2)

As %age of landmass


Landmine impact survey (LIS)



2010 (December)

CNIDAH Demining Project to Complete Article 5 Obligations



2011 (December)

Art 5 extension request



2013 (December)

Presentation at 13 Meetings of States Parties



2014 (April)

Presentation at workshop in Luanda



Note: CNIDAH = National Intersectorial Commission for Humanitarian Demining and Assistance (Comissão Nacional Intersectorial de Desminagem e Assistência Humanitária)

Despite the fact that a national non-technical survey (NTS) is almost complete (now due to be finished before the end of 2014)[4] the extent of contamination nationwide is not sufficiently clear. This is, in part, attributable to lack of coordination between Angola’s two mine action management bodies and to the fact that the Executive Commission for Demining (Comissão Executiva de Desminagem, CED) still does not use a standardized format for reporting to CNIDAH,[5] which is responsible for coordinating mine action data. A mapping project described in Angola’s 2012 Article 5 deadline extension request, designed to represent geographically the results of the NTS and ongoing clearance activities, is intended to clarify contamination nationwide by 2016.[6]

As of April 2014, in the provinces of Bié, Huambo, and Kuando Kubango all suspected hazardous areas (SHAs) had been transformed into confirmed hazardous areas (CHAs), as a result of the survey methodology employed by the HALO Trust.[7] Half of all remaining contamination is in the provinces of Kuanza Sul, Kunene, and Moxico. In Bie and Kuando Kubango, much of the estimated contamination was canceled by NTS or by eliminating discrepancies in the national mine action database.[8] In certain other provinces (Bengo, Benguela, Kunene, Kwanza Norte, Kwanza Sul, and Uige), the number of CHAs has increased significantly.

Estimated contamination according to CNIDAH as of April 2014[9]



SHAs (m²)


CHAs (m²)

Totals (m²)





































Kuando Kubango












Kwanza Norte






Kwanza Sul












Lunda Norte






Lunda Sul










































CNIDAH reported 132 casualties from 2010 until the end of 2013, while the Monitor identified 234 casualties during the same period.

Cluster munitions contamination

The extent to which Angola continues to be affected by unexploded submunitions is unclear. Clearance operators have not found cluster submunitions in over five years. As of March 2013, only HALO had reported finding unexploded submunitions since February 2008.[10] In April 2011, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) reported that the impact of cluster munition remnants was “very low” in Kwanza Sul, Kwanza Norte, Malanje, Uige, and Zaire.[11] However, HALO and the National Institute for Demining (Instituto Nacional de Desminagem, INAD) claim that unexploded submunitions remain to be cleared in Kuando Kubango.[12]

Mine Action Program

Mine clearance began in Angola in 1994 during the UN Angola Verification Mission. International NGOs were the first major mine action operators in Angola, with HALO, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), and NPA establishing mine action programs in Huambo, Moxico, and Malanje, respectively. Subsequently, four more international NGOs set up programs: People Against Landmines (Stiftung Menschen gegen Minen, MgM) in 1996, Santa Barbara in 1997, INTERSOS in 1999, and DanChurchAid (DCA), which started operations in Moxico province in 2005. INTERSOS closed its mine action program in Angola at the end of 2006 as did Santa Barbara two years later.

Since the initiation of mine action in the 1990s, a range of coordination and implementation bodies have been created at national level. In 2001, the President of Angola established CNIDAH, giving it responsibility for mine action policy development, planning, priority-setting, coordination, and management. In 2002, in order to separate coordination and operational responsibilities, the government of Angola created INAD as a public institute responsible for demining and training operations under the auspices of the Minister of Assistance and Social Reintegration. In December 2005, the CED was established to manage mine clearance by INAD, the Angolan Armed Forces (Forças Armadas Angolanas, FAA), and the National Reconstruction Office (Gabinete de Reconstrução Nacional, GRN).

International NGOs were the predominant demining operators until 2007, when INAD greatly expanded its operational capacities, and national commercial companies were formed with a view to benefiting from significant government funding for mine action through its infrastructure reconstruction projects.

From April 2002 until the end of 2011, UNDP supported capacity development of CNIDAH and later INAD, including through a Rapid Response Fund, to manage and coordinate mine action. UNDP has admitted that its support to CNIDAH was not very successful, especially with respect to database management.[13] No formal, independent evaluation of the whole program has ever been conducted.

A Landmine Impact Survey (LIS I), intended to serve as a national baseline of the extent of contamination, was conducted in 2005 with the Survey Action Center. The LIS delivered an inadequate picture of contamination and impact not only due to its inherent weaknesses but also because a number of areas were not accessible due to poor roads, as a result of resettlement of communities abandoned during the civil war, and owing to the fact that ongoing demining work and SHAs canceled by operators were not fully reflected in the CNIDAH database. The follow-up to the LIS is the “Survey and update of data concerning suspect hazardous areas,” commonly referred to as LIS II, which started in 2011 and was due to be completed before the end of 2014.[14]

The five international NGOs remaining in Angola today (DCA, HALO, MgM, MAG, and NPA) largely concentrate on provincial priorities based on the preliminary LIS II results while INAD and the FAA are tasked by the government to clear or verify areas prioritized by national development plans. A number of national commercial companies operate in Angola (Fragilp, Kubuila, OJK, PR&P, VDS, and Yola Comercial), which are accredited by and report to CNIDAH but are mostly employed by state or private companies to verify areas to be used for investment, whether or not they contain SHAs.[15]

Today, Angola has two mine action management structures. CNIDAH serves as the de facto national mine action center, reporting to the Council of Ministers (or in effect to the President of Angola).[16] Since 2002, CNIDAH has been responsible for coordinating mine action in Angola. It also accredits NGOs and commercial demining companies. CNIDAH’s 18 provincial operations offices (one in each province), under the vice-governor of the province, determine annual priorities based on priority tasks identified by the LIS, on provincial plans, and on requests from traditional leaders and other NGOs. The annual operating budget for CNIDAH in 2013 was more than US$16 million.[17]

The second mine action management body is the CED, established in 2005 to manage Angola’s national development plan. It includes mine clearance in areas where development projects are a priority. It is chaired by the Minister of Social Assistance and Reintegration (MINARS). The CED’s demining budget in 2013 was more than US$68 million,[18] some four times that of CNIDAH’s.

 There is ongoing tension between the two national authorities over who has the power to represent national demining efforts.[19] All operators under CED remain reluctant[20] to report to CNIDAH according to the agreed Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) format. Part of the problem is that CNIDAH is still only a temporary governmental body (a commission instead of an agency). Transforming it into an agency would strengthen CNIDAH’s position but the process has been consistently delayed by lack of presidential approval.[21]

The lack of cooperation between the two national entities is visible in poor coordination between developmental and humanitarian demining across Angola. Most developmental clearance targets roads, bridges, airports, electric towers, hydroelectric power plants, and land for major state agriculture projects and new industry investments (like cement factories), as well as for construction of new housing. In many cases, this demining is not undertaken on the basis of any known or suspected risk. Most humanitarian demining by NGOs and supported by international donors is determined by the results of LIS II and provincial priorities.

A workshop in April 2014 organized jointly by the government of Angola, CNIDAH, the European Union (EU), and the Mine Ban Treaty’s Implementation Support Unit (ISU) in support of the Cartagena Action Plan may prove to be a reconciliation milestone, with a recommendation approved by both entities whereby they are to “ensure that data is cross-checked between the CED and the national database housed in CNIDAH in order to ensure that areas prioritized for demining by the CED and which also appear within the national database of CNIDAH, are dealt with comprehensively with national standards and quality management by the CNIDAH.” Agreement was also secured to ensure that Angola has “a single credible source of information” and that the state will “speak with one voice” while “maintaining a separation of verification effort and efforts to fulfil the obligations under the Ottawa Convention.”[22]

Meanwhile, international funding is a challenge. In 2013, first MAG and then HALO had to reduce staff capacity due to funding constraints, though both hoped that personnel could be re-employed in 2014 with new European Commission funding.[23] The mechanical assets of international operators were not used to full capacity due to lack of funding, and some were immobilized for want of spare parts also said to be due to lack of financial resources.[24]

Management of mine action data

Persistent problems with mine action database management in Angola, as described in detail in Monitor reports over the years, remain a significant challenge. In 2013, efforts were again undertaken to improve data quality, one of which was to work together with HALO and NPA to verify all their entries in the CNIDAH database and eliminate errors while ensuring future entries are accurate.[25] However, discrepancies still exist. HALO, for example, has only 42 CHAs remaining in Huambo province in its own database while CNIDAH reports 55.[26]

An international assessor financed by UNDP and CNIDAH spent two months strengthening the skills of database staff with the result that 300 discrepancies between NGO data and the CNIDAH database were eliminated. Other common problems were: new areas not in the CNIDAH database; discredited areas not entered in the CNIDAH database; completion reports not processed; reports missing; overlapping mined area reports; and treatment of a completion report of a road task as if it were a mined area.[27] Unfortunately, the work started by the assessor was not continued by CNIDAH staff after the end of his assignment and the data was never cross-checked with DCA.[28] Moreover, the result of agreement between NPA and CNIDAH during the consultancy about reduction of the number of SHAs in Kwanza Norte, Uige, Zaire, and Malanje totaling around 58km2 still is not reflected in the database.[29]

Another critical challenge for mine action information management remains the failure of CED operators to report to CNIDAH in the IMSMA format.[30]

Strategic planning

The latest strategic plans presented by CNIDAH place high hopes in the mapping project that is intended to give an accurate picture of all mined and demined areas of Angola and solve all the database problems.[31]

 The latest version of Angola’s strategic mine action plan covers 2013–2017. It is not known whether the plan has yet been approved by the Council of Ministers. The main goals of the plan are to:

·         Ensure timely implementation of Angola’s Article 5 survey and clearance obligations;

·         Reduce the risk of mine/ERW incidents;

·         Strengthen institutional and inter-institutional capacity and improve the sustainability of the national mine action program.[32]

Land Release

Every year, Angola makes considerable progress in reducing contamination; however, the various problems with the national database described above, including the different reporting formats between CNIDAH and CED, make it impossible to describe in detail, and with any degree of accuracy, land released since the beginning of mine action in the country.

Demining operators in Angola include DCA (in Moxico), HALO (in Benguela, Bie, Huambo, and Kuando Kubango), MAG (in Moxico), MgM (in Malange), NPA (in Malange and Zair), while the four CED operators—FAA, the Military Office of the President (CMPR),[33] INAD, and the Police Border Guard of Angola (Polícia de Guarda Fronteiras de Angola, PGFA)—work collectively in all 18 provinces.

International NGO clearance in 2013

The five NGO operators cleared a total of almost 3.8km2 in 2013, slightly less than in each of the two previous years. This is largely ascribed to decreased capacity resulting from reduced funding.[34]

NGO mine clearance in 2013[35]


Areas cleared

CHA (m2)

Antipersonnel mines destroyed

Antivehicle mines destroyed































Commercial companies and local NGO clearance in 2013

CNIDAH reported an enormous decrease of demining in 2013 in relation to 2012: from 35km2 to only 3.7km2. The dramatic decline was in demining by national NGOs and commercial companies.[36] CED reported demining of 272,041m2 by the local NGO APACOMINAS, while the various commercial companies together conducted demining over a reported 5.78km2 and 159km of seismic lines (areas for seismic search for oil onshore).[37] CED reported destruction in 2013 of 2,920 antipersonnel mines, 157 antivehicle mines, and 106,036 items of UXO. Demining included almost 554km of electrical towers installations, almost 1,900km of roads, and a further 162km of seismic lines.[38] CED, INAD, and FAA do not use international land release standards, often employing clearance resources on land that is not mined.[39]

Survey in 2013

Between 2012 and April 2014, 192km2 was either cancelled by NTS or released by technical survey (TS) or removed from the national database by eliminating data discrepancies between CNIDAH and other operators.[40]

NPA in 2013 cancelled 61 SHAs equal to 29km2 and, in identifying 10 CHAs, reduced the area of contamination from 2.96km2 to 1.16km2.[41] HALO released 23 areas, canceling by NTS a total area of 0.37km2 and reducing by TS a further 0.26km2. HALO also introduced in Huambo province the Mine Free District Methodology, whereby in all 11 municipalities representatives from 1,541 communities signed survey forms agreeing that no further minefields exist other than the 42 already identified and recorded on the national database.[42] MAG reduced 5,770m2 by TS in 2013.

Clearance of cluster munition contaminated area[43]

Since 1994, only a very few cluster bomb strikes have been identified by HALO, which has therefore concluded that the impact of submunitions is minimal in Angola. Clearing submunitions has been mainly explosive ordnance disposal call-out/spot tasks.

More typical is the destruction of old or unserviceable cluster munitions identified by HALO’s Weapons and Ammunition Disposal (WAD) teams in military storage areas, some of which have already been earmarked for subsequent disposal by the FAA. Since 2005, HALO WAD teams have destroyed a total of 7,284 submunitions, including 12 in 2012.[44]

Article 5 Compliance

In accordance with a five-year extension granted by States Parties in 2012, Angola’s Article 5 deadline is 1 January 2018.

Angola is already behind on activities planned for the extension period. The NTS due to finish in 2013 is now predicted to end in 2014 or even at the beginning of 2015.[45] The mapping project was supposed to start in 2013 and had not started as of May 2014 (although preparations have been undertaken, including securing an agreement with the state oil company Sonangol for financing the project).[46]

At the end of the current extension period, Angola plans to submit another extension request based on results of surveys and clearance, but has already predicted needing more than 10 years beyond 2018.[47]

Support for Mine Action

Angola has traditionally been one of the largest recipients of international mine action funding. In 2009–2013, it received a total of US$98 million, an average of almost $20 million per year. In 2013, Angola received $10 million towards clearance activities, of which the US provided 60%.[48]

The EU is also a major donor in Angola. In 2010, the EU awarded five international NGOs and one French commercial company €20 million ($26.5 million) for 2010–2012.[49] In 2013, the EU office in Angola announced it would provide another €20 million ($25 million) for mine action in 2013–2017.[50] As of May 2014, no contracts had been issued under this funding.[51]

The government of Angola contributed $215 million to mine action in 2009–2013, more than 75% of its total mine action budget, and an average of $63 million per year. In 2013, the government contributed AOA1.6 billion (US$16.6 million) to CNIDAH while national funding totaling AOA9.5 billion ($98.8 million) was provided to the CED. Total national funding for mine action was AOA11.1billion ($115.4 million).[52]


·         Angola should finally ensure that the CNIDAH mine action database becomes truly national and is able to serve as a reliable source of information for future planning.

·         Angola should assign more assets to clearing CHAs by either funding NGOs through Angola’s national budget or moving CED demining teams to help the country meet its Article 5 obligations.

·         Angola should strengthen the capacity and management of quality control teams so that certified land can be promptly turned over to communities for use. Quality control should include all areas cleared by international NGOs, the CED, and commercial companies.


[1] See “Mine Action Program Performance” for more information on performance indicators.

[2] Survey Action Center, “Landmine Impact Survey, Republic of Angola, Final Report,” Washington, DC, November 2007, p. 7.

[3] Ibid.; Intersectoral Commission on Demining and Humanitarian Assistance (CNIDAH), “Demining Project to Complete Article 5 Obligations,” December 2010; Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 30 March 2012; statement of Angola, Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 3 December 2013; and “Plano Cartagena v. Art. 5,” Document presented during national workshop organized by the Government of Angola, CNIDAH, the European Union, and the Implementation Support Unit in support of Cartagena Action Plan in April 2014, provided by email on 6 May 2014 by Joaquim Merca, Assessor of the President of CNIDAH.

[4] Email from Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, 12 May 2014.

[5] Interview with Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, in Geneva, 10 April 2014.

[7] Email from Gerhard Zank, Program Manager, HALO Trust, 5 May 2014.

[8] “Plano Cartagena v. Art 5,” provided in email by Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, 6 May 2014.

[9] Data compiled based on the presentation “Plano Cartagena v. Art 5.”

[10] Responses to Monitor questionnaire by Ken O’Connell, Project Director, People Against Landmines (Stiftung Menschen gegen Minen, MgM), 15 March 2013; by Tony Fernandes, Technical Operations Manager, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), 5 March 2013; by Anthony Connell, Program Manager, Danish Church Aid (DCA), 12 March 2013; by Fredrik Holmegaard, NPA, 19 March May 2013; and by Gerhard Zank, HALO Trust, 19 March 2013.

[11] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Aubrey Sutherland, Programme Manager, NPA, 1 March 2011.

[12] Interviews with Jose Antonio, Site Manager, Kuando Kubango, HALO Trust; and with Coxe Sucama, Director, INAD, in Menongue, 24 June 2011.

[13] Interview with Susete Fereira, UNDP, Luanda, 14 June 2011.

[14] Email from Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, 12 May 2014.

[15] Ibid., 7 May 2014.

[16] Presidential Decree No. 54/2001.

[17] Ministry of Finance, Dotacao Orcamental por Orgao (Angola National Budget 2013), Luanda, 22 February 2013.

[18] CED, “Relatorio Annual 2013” (“Annual Report 2013”), Luanda, undated.

[19] Interviews with Pedro Toco, UNDP Database Assistant to CNIDAH, Luanda, 20 April 2010; with Leonardo Seferino Sapalo, Head, INAD, and CED Member, Luanda, 17 June 2011; with Susete Fereira, UNDP, Luanda, 14 June 2011; with Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, in Geneva, 10 April 2014; and with Narciso Paulo S. Tiacafe. Operations Officer, CNIDAH, Luanda, 16 April 2010; and CNIDAH “Plano Estrategico de Sector de Accao contra Minas 2013–2017,” Luanda, undated, p. 30.

[20] Interviews with Leonardo Seferino Sapalo, INAD, Luanda, 17 June 2011; with Susete Fereira, UNDP, Luanda, 14 June 2011; and with Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, in Geneva, 10 April 2014.

[21] Interview with Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, in Geneva, 10 April 2014.

[22] “Workshop conclusions and recommendations,” presented at the end of national workshop organized by the Government of Angola, CNIDAH, EU, and the ISU in support of Cartagena Action Plan in April 2014.

[23] Emails from Gerhard Zank, HALO Trust, 5 May 2014; and from Jessica Riordan, Country Director, MAG Angola, 4 April 2014.

[24]Emails from Anthony Connell, Programme Manager, DCA Angola, 24 April 2014; and from Gerhard Zank, HALO Trust, 5 May 2014.

[25] Charles Downs, “CNIDAH Mission Report,” Survey Action Center, May 2013.

[26] Email from Gerhard Zank, HALO Trust, 5 May 2014; and “Plano Cartagena v. Art. 5,” provided in email by Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, 6 May 2014.

[27] Charles Downs, “CNIDAH Mission Report,” Survey Action Center, May 2013.

[28] Email from Anthony Connell, DCA Angola, 24 April 2014.

[29] Email from Fredrik Holmegaard, Operations Manager, NPA Angola, 23 May 2014.

[30] Interview with Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, in Geneva, 10 April 2014.

[31] Ibid.

[32] CNIDAH, “Plano Estratégico do Sector de Acção contra Minas 2013–2017,” Luanda, undated.

[33] CMPR’s general mission is national security and demining is included in this.

[34] Emails from Gerhard Zank, HALO Trust, 5 May 2014; from Anthony Connell, DCA Angola, 24 April 2014; from Jessica Riordan, MAG Angola, 4 April 2014; and from Kenneth Andrew O’Connell, Country Manager, MgM Angola, 5 May 2014.

[35] Emails from Gerhard Zank, HALO Trust, 5 May 2014; from Fredrik Holmegaard, NPA Angola, 3 March 2014; from Anthony Connell, DCA Angola, 24 April 2014; from Jessica Riordan, MAG Angola, 4 April 2014; and from Kenneth Andrew O’Connell, MgM Angola, 5 May 2014.

[36] Email from Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, 7 May 2014.

[37] CED, “Annual Report 2013,” Luanda, undated.

[38] Calculations based on CED, “Annual Report 2013,” Luanda, undated.

[39] Interview with Leonardo Seferino Sapalo, INAD, Luanda, 20 April 2010.

[40] Presentation “Plano Cartagena v. Art 5,” provided in email by Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, 6 May 2014.

[41] NPA presentation to national workshop of April 2014; and email from Fredrik Holmegaard, NPA Angola, 3 March 2014.

[42] Email from Gerhard Zank, HALO, 5 May 2014.

[43] “HALO Trust WAD Angola Monthly Report Consolidated Statistics: May 2011,” provided to the Monitor in Angola, June 2011; and response to Monitor questionnaire from Gerhard Zank, HALO, 8 April 2012.

[44] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Gerhard Zank, HALO, 19 March 2013.

[45] Email from Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, 12 May 2014.

[46] Interview with Joaquim Merca, CNIDAH, in Geneva, 10 April 2014.

[47] Statement of Angola, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 23 May 2012.

[48] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Anna Merrifield, Desk Officer, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 22 April 2014; emails from Ingunn Vatne, Senior Advisor, Section for Humanitarian Affairs, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 April 2014; and from Lisa D. Miller, Public Engagement and Partnerships, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, US Department of State, 9 April 2014; Belgium, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 30 April 2014; and Japan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 30 April 2014.

[49] Information provided by Maria Cruz Cristobal, Mine Action Desk, Security Policy Unit, Directorate-General for External Relations, EU, through David Spence, Minister Counselor, Delegation of the EU to the UN in Geneva, 20 June 2011.

[50] CNIDAH, “External Fundraising Strategy 2013–2017,” paper presented at side event “Angola’s resource mobilization strategy,” during Standing Committee meetings in Geneva, 27–31 May 2013.

[51] Email from Jérôme Legrand, Policy Officer, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Conventional Weapons and Space Division, European External Action Service, 8 May 2014.

[52] 2013 Angola National Budget. Angola average exchange rate for 2013: AOA95.7140=US$1. Oanda.com.