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Technology and Environment

More than half of Angola's petroleum, and most of its exported oil, comes from wells offshore of Cabinda, a small exclave located north of Angola and separated from it by a strip of land belonging to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Cabinda is also the site of a several separatist factions collectively organized as the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) -- a group that has been a thorn in the side of Angola's government for decades. The roots of the conflict in Cabinda are deep, but one of the important grievances FLEC leveled against the government was that the people of Cabinda saw precious few benefits from the oil that coursed out of their land. The two sides fought and engaged in uneasy negotiations until Angola's military finally crushed the FLEC resistance during late 2002 and early 2003. However, Cabinda remains a politically unstable area today and both its land and its people bear the scars of the prolonged conflict.

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A sign warns of the presence of mines.
Big oil companies have increasingly been forced to become more accountable for their impact in regions such as Cabinda. In 2002, ChevronTexaco, which produces about 60 percent of Angola's oil and is a major player in Cabinda, committed $25 million to help launch a sustainable development program called the Angola Partnership Initiative. In conjunction with USAID and the UNDP, the initiative aims to provide tools and training to revitalize Angola's agricultural sector and distribute loans to small businesses. Combined with initiatives such as the government's reinvestment of 10 percent of Cabinda's oil taxes back into the province, these programs will no doubt improve the living standards of many Angolans. Yet it remains to be seen whether such efforts will satisfy the people of Cabinda or simply forestall further conflict in the oil-rich region.

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