An interview with Olav Kjørven, political advisor, ministry of foreign affairs

«The organisations (small NGOs) strength is exactly that they work at a local level. This is where people meet from different sides of the conflict and the organisation’s input to local development is to create a situation wherein people can meet each other as neighbors and friends. This is a determinating factor in creating confidence and security which is a must for a successful peace process» – Kjørven

Development and Human Rights Minister, Hilde Frafjord Johnson visited Angola from the 18th to the 24 of February 1998. Before the visit, representatives from NGOs and the private sector working in Angola were invited to an orientation meeting wherein actual humanitarian and developmental problems were discussed. Norways attitude towards the country, and the role Norwegian organisations will now have as a part of the peace-making process were among the questions that came up during the meeting. In this connection, Isabella Platon from Yme interviewed Minister Frafjord Johnson’s political advisor , Olav Kjørven.

What role can small projects at a grassroots level play in the peace-making process in conflict areas?

In all conflict areas we see a development on a local level which decides how a conflict develops itself up to a national level. Without people being able to come back to their homes, cultivate their land again, and receive basic health and education for their children etc… the peace process will not have the foundation that it needs and as a result will become unstable.

What role can a small NGO have in this context?

The organisations strength is exactly that they work at a local level. This is where people meet from different sides of the conflict. The organisation’s input to local development is to create a situation wherein people can meet each other as neighbours and friends. This is a determining factor in creating confidence and security which is a must for a successful peace process. Some NGOs even specialise in creating reconciliation in local communities, for example through training in so-called «changemakers.» Such work can fill in the work towards more development-oriented NGOs in a good way.

How can Norway be a vehicle in making environmental issues a serious case in developing countries?

We work along many dimensions to promote the environmental question in both industrial and developing countries. We take part in international negotiations and the global initiative and participate in the boards of multi-lateral organisations to strengthen activities that combine environment and development. In addition, we support developing countries’ participation in international negotiations and support the receiverland’s work through implementing international environmental responsibilities and other national environmental priorities. Our environmentally directed aid takes in consideration the integration of environmental concerns in all norwegian supported aid. This is relevant through extensive use of consequence-analysis and in establishing and in carrying out environmentally specific programs i.e. within water resource management, forest management and the treatment of waste in urban areas.

How can Norwegian aid organisations cooperate with the Norwegian industry to achieve the maximum results in this effort?

We see that it is extremely important that the technology found available in Norway can be used in development work. Therefore, we believe that is is essential to have a good relationship between development organisations and industry. The goal with such cooperation must, however, always be what is most appropriate and what best fulfills the receiverlands needs. It is not necessarily a given that either the technology or the service itself should be Norwegian.

What are then main reasons for the Norwegian authorities’ increased engagement in Angola?

It is right that a Norwegian Embassy was established in Luanda. However, the input in Angola in general has remained relatively stable the past few years. Nevertheless, it is clear that with long-lasting peace in the country, the need for more long-term aid would increase. Under the Roundtable conference of 1995, Norway expressed their willingness to support this endeavour. At that time, the Angolan authorities presented an ambitious program for rehabilitation of the country after the war.

What long-term plans and perspectives does one have for the engagement in Angola?

A starting point for a more long-term development work with Angola is a positive step in the peace process. The country is in a transition phase, and we will at first see how we can contribute in building a bridge between humanitarian emergency aid and more long-term commitment to avoid the gap that comes after the emergency phase is over. Areas that Norway is heavily involved in like the clean-up of mines and reintegration of refugees have in itself many elements of longevity. These elements we will attempt to build on and further develop in cooperation with the Angolan government and NGOs (e.g. The Yme Foundation).

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