This research analyses the interaction between aid interventions and local institutions through which people address needs during crisis. These include state and non- state institutions involved in social assistance and in the delivery of basic services such as healthcare. The study focuses on the case of Angola’s conflict, which lasted from independence in 1975 until 2002. It discusses aid policy and practice during the war and in the post-war context by examining various types of aid interventions and how they unfold on the ground. It shows that during the emergency, humanitarian practice largely ignored or bypassed local institutions. However, strengthening institutional capacity has become an explicit objective of post-conflict aid interventions. This thesis analyses the main types of institution-building interventions that have dominated Angola’s reconstruction period. It shows that these are strongly shaped by the legacy of relief practices on the legitimacy of local institutions, and on the functioning of the aid system. As a result, aid interventions rather than strengthening local institutions, often institutionalise their weaknesses.