Skip to content
Key findings
  • Three-fourths (75%) of Angolans say pollution is a serious problem in their community, including 53% who say it is “very serious.”
  • More than half (51%) of respondents say the primary responsibility for reducing pollution and keeping communities clean lies with ordinary citizens. About one-third (34%) see this as the national government’s job.
  • Few Angolans think that the benefits of natural resource extraction outweigh the costs (22%), that ordinary people have a voice in decisions about natural resource extraction that takes place near their communities (24%), or that local communities receive a fair share of the revenues from natural resource extraction (18%).
  • By a 2-to-1 margin (48% vs. 22%), citizens say the government should regulate the industry more tightly to reduce its negative impacts on the environment.

Angola is blessed with abundant natural resources, including oil, diamonds, and vast amounts of arable – though largely unused – land. Last year the country passed Nigeria to become Africa’s largest oil producer (Leao & Shetty, 2022).

At the same time, Angola confronts a troubling array of environmental challenges, among them deforestation, soil erosion, poor water quality, pollution from mining and oil production, and the impacts of climate change (World Bank, 2021; Paca, Santos, Pires, Leitão, & Boaventura, 2019;, 2022; Neto & Maclean, 2021; World Rainforest Movement, 1999).

In a presidential order in December, João Lourenço created a multidisciplinary working group to draw up a National Plan to Ban Plastics to “address environmental degradation,” regulate the production and use of these products, and comply with commitments under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and other international agreements on environmental protection. Coordinated by the minister of state and chief of staff of the president of the Republic, the group includes ministers as well as civil society representatives, among them noted environmentalist Fernanda Renée Samuel (Jornal de Angola, 2023).

In Angola, as in most countries, environmental governance raises wide-ranging questions for human health and economic well-being. Understanding popular perspectives and priorities can help strengthen efforts to prevent or mitigate negative outcomes, whether through policy advocacy or direct action.

This dispatch reports on a special survey module included in the Afrobarometer Round 9 questionnaire to explore Angolans’ experiences and perceptions of pollution, environmental governance, and natural resource extraction.

Findings show that Angolans see environmental pollution, including trash and plastics, as a major problem in their communities, especially in urban areas. Most want the government to do more to address pollution and protect the environment, though not at the cost of jobs.

Few Angolans think that local communities are getting a fair shake from the natural resource extraction industry, and support for tighter government regulations far exceeds opposition.

Kelechi Amakoh

Data analyst for Afrobarometer and a PhD student in the Department of Political Science, Michigan State University.

Carlos Pacatolo

Carlos Pacatolo is the national investigator for Angola.