Sustainable Tourism InitiativesThe United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) notes that tourism is capable of driving high economic status in developing countries. Three of the below initiatives are examples of how sustainable tourism can best support developing communities.  

3 Examples of Sustainable Tourism Initiatives

  1. Cambodia’s Phare Circus
    First unveiled in 2013, the Phare Circus has drawn a large tourist and local crowd over the years and has even organized tours and private performances across the world. The stories they showcase through their acts are an authentic look into Khmer history and culture. By telling stories through performance, the circus promotes Cambodian art both domestically and overseas. The Phare Circus is an initiative of Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang (PPSA), which translates to The Brightness of the Arts, a nonprofit school founded in 1994 with the mission of helping young people cope with war trauma through art. All students are able to participate for free and can even move on to work for the Phare Performing Social Enterprise (PPSE), the parent company of Phare and the Circus. Both the PPSA and the PPSE are true definitions of sustainable tourism. The circus returns 75 percent of profits to the educational program and school, who in turn work on creating employment opportunities for Cambodian artists. Like the circus, Phare’s other social businesses under PPSE, such as the Phare Productions International and the Phare Creative Studio, create a reliable income to sustain the school. 
  2. Hotel Bom Bom on Príncipe Island
    Hotel Bom Bom is a bungalow resort situated on São Tomé and Príncipe, an island nation located 155 miles off the northwestern coast of Gabon. The hotel promotes water and recycling projects launched by the Príncipe Island World Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO and invites tourists to take part in these programs. Hotel guests, for example, can participate by exchanging 50 plastic bottles for one “Biosphere Bottle,” a reusable type of water container, which guests can fill up at one of the 13 water stations around the island. In total, 220,000 plastic bottles have been collected since December 2013. Preserving the local environment positively influences the livelihood of the native community.
  3. Prainha do Canto Verde, Brazil
    The native land of Prainha do Canto Verde, a coastal village located in the northeastern Brazillian state of Ceará has been threatened by illegal fishing and tourism development projects. As a result, the community decided to create its own tourism council in 1998. Since then, community tourism has come to represent 15 percent of the town’s source of income. Many of the initiatives they offer include “posadas,” or community inns, workshops and crafts, cooking, cultural activities and native fishing. The posadas are a true example of community-based tourism. Local residents offer up a few rooms in their homes to tourists. One posada, “Sol e Mar,” features a restaurant, garden, and six rooms which can accommodate up to 18 guests. Many families that run posadas end up registering with the Ministry of Tourism and joining the community’s council. It is an enriching experience for the locals that also improves living standards within the native community. Additionally, it allows locals to craft tourism activities and opportunities themselves so that there is little risk of endangerment to their culture. Overall, this tourism initiative in Prainha is actively working towards large goals to redistribute income and preserve the surrounding ecosystem of the village.

The Big Picture

When tourists support sustainable tourism, they are actively taking steps to meet locals, hear their experiences first-hand, and participate in greater causes to combat poverty in those regions. Sustainable tourism allows people to make a social impact on the place they are visiting and the initiatives mentioned above are just some of the few that are providing that opportunity.

– Melina Benjamin
Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe (STP) are two islands of volcanic origin located off the coast of western Africa. Since the late 1400s, Portugal began settling convicts on São Tomé and Portuguese became the most commonly spoken language. The island successfully established sugar plantations and became extremely significant shortly after in the transshipment of slaves.

São Tomé and Príncipe

Portugal finally recognized the independence of São Tomé and Príncipe after the coup in 1974. In 1995, Príncipe assumed autonomy and established a multiparty democracy in their 1990 constitution.

Today, the islands have a unitary state comprised of roughly 200,000 people. The country is small, leaving it very fragile to economic shifts, and recent studies estimate that 62 percent of the population is impoverished. Urban poverty is also high because of the limited employment opportunities.

Nevertheless, São Tomé and Príncipe performs high on the UNDP Human Development Index. The gross primary school enrollment is at an astounding 110 percent, and access to basic needs continue to improve. For instance, 97 percent of the population has seen an increase in access to water, and 60 percent of the population can access electricity.

Room For Improvement

The government of São Tomé and Príncipe has implemented several tactics to improve the business sector; however, the country still has issues maintaining its recent levels of growth. The challenges they face are predominantly due to:

  • The government’s delicate economic situation
  • A banking industry with low-performing loans and insufficient capital
  • Outside imbalances

Unfortunately, São Tomé and Príncipe has a small island economy. There is no single economic endeavor that has acted as a driver of growth. Agriculture is mainly used to support the economy, but in recent years it has not been able to counteract the rise of imports; government expenditures have become the principal driver in the country’s growth. The government has been investing in oil exploration and yet production isn’t anticipated until sometime after 2020.

Credit Access in São Tomé and Príncipe

Fortunately, São Tomé and Príncipe has seen some progress in credit. The decade before 2013, the small nation saw a growth in loans for construction, consumption and trade. This growth is likely a result of the potential oil production, but the most recent years have not seen this access.

Credit exposure to specific sectors is very dangerous to STP. In 2015, credit given to the construction sector was mostly offered by one bank. The same can be said for the manufacturing and tourism sectors; however, this comes as a great threat for credit access in São Tomé and Príncipe, as concentration in one bank can make banks susceptible to industry-specific shocks.

Banking and Government Sectors

Banks in STP also face the issue of high operating costs — particularly in utilities like electricity and technology infrastructure — which causes credit access in São Tomé and Príncipe to become at risk. Moreover, in 2015, there was an influx in provisions for loan losses, further troubling the banks. Banks have likewise confessed that since 2013, negative earnings have been on the rise.

The government of STP is working to address the imbalances in the economy by improving domestic revenue, controlling spending and implementing improved management. Public officials are also attempting to secure outside financing through grants and loans. They believe that by supporting economic activities, there will be an increase in earnings from exports.

Furthermore, the government is working to implement policy changes believed to progress the credit market. With these policies, access to credit access in São Tomé and Príncipe is projected to improve and will create opportunities for families at the lower end of income distribution.

Fiscal Success

The World Bank currently works with São Tomé and Príncipe to address their economic issues, and it is believed that the financial sector will greatly improve with increased access to credit in São Tomé and Príncipe. Better-quality credit access and improved energy are the country’s strongest chance to fix their economic problems, and both the agriculture and tourism industries would greatly benefit from better access to loans.

These changes could pull the country, and its most disadvantaged members, out of the fiscal danger zone and on into financial success.

– Stefanie Babb
Photo: Flickr

Sao Tome
Sao Tome and Principe is a small island nation in Africa, close to the equator. It has a population of less than 200,000, and extreme poverty is widespread in the country, particularly in rural areas.

Sao Tome and Principe is Africa’s smallest country geographically and relies heavily on agriculture, specifically the production of cocoa. Approximately 95 percent of the country’s exports are in cocoa; however, due to recent droughts and a lack of sustainable agriculture in Sao Tome and Principe, production has steadily decreased.

 

Current State of the Economy

Roughly 60 percent of the nation’s employment is in the rural sector and as of 2016, the unemployment rate was just under 14 percent. Since the nation is so small, the economy doesn’t have much room to grow — it increases approximately four percent per year. This growth is not enough for the country to sustain itself, and due to the lack of sustainable agriculture in Sao Tome and Principe, the economy cannot flourish or grow any more than it currently is.

With a sustainable agriculture system, the country will be able to decrease poverty, increase employment, and by extension, better the economy.

 

Efforts Towards Sustainable Agriculture

Since the late 1980s, the World Bank introduced and implemented projects in Sao Tome and Principe to help strengthen the country’s agriculture and production. Though most of these projects have been met with limited success, the World Bank has invested over 20 million in Sao Tome and Principe’s agriculture over the years.

Most projects still being implemented by the World Bank are now dedicated towards financials and budgeting; however, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has taken over improving and developing agriculture within the nation.

In November 2010, AfDB introduced the Infrastructure Rehabilitation for Food Security Support Project (PRIASA). The aims of this project are to increase appropriate infrastructure and support rural communities in creating sustainable agriculture in Sao Tome and Principe. These efforts will increase crop production in these areas as well as create more jobs thus decreasing unemployment.

 

Improvements Already Underway

Sao Tome and Principe has already reaped benefits from the project in the last seven years. The nation has integrated gravity-fed irrigation systems, built greenhouses and created and installed solar dryers. All of these improvements can hopefully lead to the continued presence of sustainable agriculture in Sao Tome and Principe.

The project also helps support the infrastructure development needed to create sustainable agriculture. AfDB has roads, offices and modernized technology in Sao Tome and Principe, and so far, the project has reached over 10 thousand beneficiaries.

 

Training and Continued Development

Training is also a part of the initiative. Over 100 technicians and officials of the Ministry of Rural Development in Sao Tome and Principe have been specifically trained in how to sustain the developments made to the country’s agricultural system.

While improvements still have to be made before the nation can state complete sustainable agriculture, Sao Tome and Principe is definitely making significant headway. With the groundwork laid, Sao Tome and Principe has a strong chance of making themselves a prosperous and fortified country.

– Courtney Wallace

Photo: Flickr

Infrastructure in Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe, Africa’s smallest country in terms of geographical size, relies heavily on the production of cocoa, which has been steadily declining due to droughts and mismanagement. Despite the decrease in production, the economy has been growing at a rate of around 4 percent, but it is not enough to alleviate the country’s widespread poverty. An estimated 62 percent of the population lives in poverty.

About 100,000 people, almost half of the island nation’s population, live without electricity and one-third of the available roadways remain unpaved, which makes road travel difficult.

Investing in projects like paved roads and other areas encompassed by infrastructure in Sao Tome and Principe has the potential to jumpstart the alleviation of poverty across the country. Improving the country’s infrastructure opens up other doors for Sao Tome and Principe’s economy to grow and flourish. The World Bank and the government of Sao Tome and Principe are working together to introduce a multitude of reforms promoting growth in the financial sector and infrastructure.

The Urban/Rural Divide

The urban/rural divide is often a driving force for inequality. As countries urbanize, many people move towards the cities and leave rural areas behind. The people left in rural areas often have trouble keeping up with the shift and fall into a pattern of poverty. This is the case for Sao Tome and Principe.

Infrastructure in Sao Tome and Principe is worst in rural areas, but many initiatives have been implemented to improve the infrastructure so that it is equal to urban areas. The African Development Bank Group, a development finance institution, has a goal to diversify rural infrastructure to keep up with Sao Tome and Principe’s growing agriculture strategy.

Sao Tome and Principe’s Location

Oftentimes, poor developing countries fall into a poverty trap based on their geographical location. Many of the most impoverished countries in the world are landlocked. Sao Tome and Principe, being an island nation, is in a much better position to escape poverty than many other countries with a less fortunate geographic location. The islands are situated in a strategic location for international trade via waterways.

Sao Tome and Principe’s government is seeking international investors for the creation of a deepwater port. The government hopes that with the emergence of the deepwater port, Sao Tome and Principe will become an international shipping point connecting central Africa with the United States, Asia and Europe.

The International Development Association

The International Development Association (IDA) is the World Bank’s sector dedicated to helping the world’s poorest countries. Nearly 50 percent of the IDA’s funds go towards programs in Africa. Currently, in Sao Tome and Principe, the IDA is funding projects that total $22 million. The projects are currently focused on the country’s social support sector, advocating for equality for all citizens of Sao Tome and Principe.

Despite its size, infrastructure in Sao Tome and Principe has the potential to make the country a major player on the world’s stage. Continued development in this area can help the country improve living conditions for its most vulnerable citizens.

– Sonja Flancher

Photo: Flickr

Sao Tome

Located off Africa’s western shore, Sao Tome and Principe is home to about 200,000 people. According to the World Bank, almost 62 percent are living in poverty. With a moderate-to-weak economy, humanitarian aid to Sao Tome and Principe is essential to improve social and health-related issues.

The Economy of Sao Tome and Principe

The economy of Sao Tome and Principe consists mostly of cocoa exports and tourism to showcase its diverse wildlife and tropical forests.

The Portuguese-speaking islands currently struggle to provide educational, as well as economic, opportunities to its children. Approximately 44 percent of the population is made up by children under 14. While about 97 percent of children attend primary school, the rate of secondary school attendance falls drastically to 38 percent.

Programs Providing Humanitarian Aid to Sao Tome and Principe

The International Development Association (IDA) aimed to improve education attendance rates by providing more than $4 million in educational assistance. The program, Quality Education for All, strengthens the educational system by improving teachers’ training and enriching student’s curriculum. By improving primary education, the IDA is building a foundation for secondary education down the road.

Another program contributing to humanitarian aid to Sao Tome and Principe is the Entrepreneurship Curriculum Programme for the Youth of Sao Tome and Principe. Funded by the Trust Fund for Youth Employment, $34,333 was devoted to teaching entrepreneurial skills in secondary education in hopes of better preparing students for the workforce. The program’s goal is to impact at least 1,500 students with entrepreneurial training.

Combatting Diseases in Sao Tome and Principe

Other issues that plague Sao Tome and Principe are personal health and protection from diseases such as malaria and HIV. In 2009, malaria was reported in a total of 33.8 percent out of 1,000 people. However, thanks to relief efforts, this number had drastically declined to 9.7 percent per 1,000 people by 2014.

Along with the decline of reported malaria cases, Sao Tome and Principe reported a total of zero malaria-related deaths in 2014. To further prevent the threat of malaria, the UNDP has worked with the Global Fund. Together, these organizations have provided a $6 million grant that finances the purchase of mosquito repellants along with bed nets. The grant’s goal is to eliminate all threats of malaria and other illnesses by 2030.

Sao Tome and Principe continues improving with help from organizations like the Global Fund and the UNDP, as well as others. By addressing core issues like citizen’s health and education, humanitarian aid to Sao Tome and Principe is providing opportunities for continued growth.

– Austin Stoltzfus

Photo: Flickr


Sao Tome and Principe is a very small country comprised of two islands situated off the coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea. The nation is one of the poorest African countries with half its population living on less than two dollars a day.

The country acquired its independence from Portugal in 1975, enacted democratic reforms in 1980 and currently has no institutions for higher education; as a result of this environment, women’s empowerment in Sao Tome and Principe took a back seat.

Women in Sao Tome and Principe

Constitutionally, women in Sao Tome and Principe have equal rights in politics, education, business and government positions; but in reality, gender inequality is prominent throughout the nation. Domestic violence and abuse against women is widespread, but since the society is extremely traditional, women are not very vocal about the injustices committed against them.

In June 2003, Sao Tome and Principe gave formal consent to the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and in February 2010, it also signed the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (The Maputo Protocol). Despite these supposed moves in the right direction, the nation’s government has failed to comply with the details of the protocols.

However, organizations such as The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have taken innovative steps in women’s empowerment in Sao Tome and Principe by engaging women effort in the preservation of bio-diversity. In addition, women have also taken a distinct position in the fish trade of the country.

Empowering Women through Biodiversity

In the district of Lobata, turtle egg collection, turtle meat consumption, turtle shell trading and cutting trees for firewood are all part of the illegal practices that negatively impact Sao Tome and Principe’s biodiversity.

In 2009, the Ministry of Education (under the supervision of Madam Helena Bonfim) engaged women in this region to help in turtle, bird and forest preservation. Three hundred women aged between 15 and 36 were divided in 12 different groups and organized to learn about turtle conservation and other environmental aspects.

UNESCO, along with non-profit government organizations, took the initiative of educating women in this region; in fact, the organization helped the women acquire skills in food processing and other fields like fashion, design and environmental protection.

Empowering Women through Fish Trading

Almost 17 percent of the total population of Sao Tome and Principe is involved in the fish business where women play a unique role — they are involved in many of the main acts of fishing such as:

  • Unloading the boat
  • Buying fish directly from fishermen
  • Transporting to the market and selling them
  • Processing them into dried and salted fish

Fish saleswomen are known as “palayes” in the local language; palayes make up an extremely powerful group of the population, and some of them are even important members of the fisherman association.

The members of the palayes association try to reduce cost of the enterprise by sharing fish-drying sheds and buying salts in bulk for fish processing. Some of the successful palayes even lend money to the fisherman for buying fishing accessories.

Other Business Prospects

The women of Sao Tome also generate income through:

  • Piggery and poultry farming
  • Selling eggs, chicken and bartering surplus meat
  • Growing banana and indigenous crops

Despite high levels of poverty, illiteracy and gender inequality, women’s empowerment in Sao Tome and Principe is taking progressive steps. The Ministry of Education and organizations like UNESCO are making every effort to support and motivate this extremely important cause of women’s empowerment in Sao Tome and Principe.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Sao Tome and Principe

The most recent survey on the causes of poverty in Sao Tome and Principe, an island nation off the western coast of Africa, dates back to 1995. It showed that over 40 percent of the population was living below the poverty line, and 33 percent were living in extreme poverty.

Unfortunately, there is little household information about Sao Tome and Principe, but a decline in the nation’s per capita income through 1997 and difficult social conditions led to the increase in poverty since then. Specifically, fluctuations in the world’s cocoa prices triggered such conditions and have caused an influx of migration to urban areas.

Despite this, its rank of 142 out of 188 in the United Nations’ Development Programme Human Development Index is relatively good compared to other Western African countries. This mostly stems from foreign investment in health and education between 1975 and 1985, but this aid slowed with economic instability in the 1990s.

This country struggles to develop largely due to its low income, which stems from a lack of assets and means of production. Without the ability to export, Sao Tome and Principe struggles to resolve its economic instability. Without tools or proper infrastructure, agriculture as an industry is unable to generate income.

Despite this, since 1990, Sao Tome and Principe’s Human Development Index rating has gone up from .454 to .574, which is an increase of about 26.4 percent. Progress in different areas has been seen, as the life expectancy has gone up by 4.8 years, as well as mean years of schooling increased by 2.4 years and expected years of schooling increased by 3.8 years. Sao Tome and Principe’s GNI per capita also increased by 55.6 percent since 1990.

Sao Tome and Principe is still below the average level of HDI rating of .631, but above the average of .523 of sub-Saharan African countries. One area it must work on is its gender inequality rating, as only 30.8 percent of adult women have received a secondary level of education. Further improvement in some of these areas will help limit some of the causes of poverty in Sao Tome and Principe.

Tucker Hallowell

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Refugees from Sao Tome and Principe
A Brief History

The islands of Sao Tome and Principe are some of the most remote and beautiful islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The island has a reputation of having a tropical climate usually associated with islands located in the South Pacific.

In recent history, Sao Tome and Principe struggled with government corruption and attempts at a coup d’etat of the government. February 12, 2009 marked the first attempt of a coup d’etat of the government. Although the plotters of the coup were imprisoned, many citizens of the nation still fear the potential for another political uprising. This fact has led to an increase of residents leaving the country which increased the number of refugees from Sao Tome and Principe.

Below are ten facts about refugees from Sao Tome and Principe.

  1. Within refugee camps, women refugees from Sao Tome and Principe deal with daily struggles of misogyny. This misogyny has led to many women believing that they should have fewer rights than men. In fact, seven percent of women who are refugees from Sao Tome and Principe think a husband is justified in beating his wife when she argues with him, and 6.4 percent believe men have the right to beat women when they burn food they are cooking.
  2. Women also deal with misogyny by refusing to accept health care without a male bringing them to the hospital. Women refugees from Sao Tome and Principe have a 51.8 percent chance of not accessing health care without having a man take them to the doctors.
  3. Sexual contact begins early for women who are refugees from Sao Tome and Principe. The median age for women aged between 25-49 for their first sexual contact was only 17.1 years old on average.
  4. Condom use is not common for refugees from Sao Tome and Principe, and women between the ages of 15-24 have a 24.3 chance of using a condom regularly.
  5. Lack of condom use has led to many children being born refugees from Sao Tome and Principe. The number of infant deaths has risen in these camps to an average of 219 deaths.
  6. For the children that make it past birth, they continue to have relatively short lives — last year, 297 refugee children from Sao Tome and Principe died due to numerous causes.
  7. Refugee camps are dangerous for refugees from Sao Tome and Principe and the rate of dying from an injury has increased to 10.5 percent.
  8. The dangers of living in a refugee camp may be immense, but refugee camp health centers have ensured that vaccinations are commonplace. Child refugees from Sao Tome and Principe have a vaccination rate for BCG, DPT and measles at 97.7 percent, 96 percent and 95.2 percent accordingly.
  9. Although refugees from Sao Tome and Principe receive vaccinations, many continue to die from disease. Last year 19 migrants died from malaria.
  10. On top of death from disease, refugees from Sao Tome and Principe continue to die from tobacco and alcohol use. The smoking prevalence for women rests currently at 1.51 percent and 9.27 percent for males. The total alcohol consumption per capita (measured in liters) was measured last year to be 6.8 liters for migrants over the age of 15.

The Takeaway

Even though Sao Tome and Principe possess all the natural resources it could even need and the support from the United Nations and NGOs, the nation still suffers from its citizens leaving to become migrants. Refugees from Sao Tome and Principe suffer from misogyny, death by injury, disease and substance abuse.

However, understanding these facts can allow groups focused on helping these people create solutions for the future. Although the present may be grim for refugees from Sao Tome and Principe, their future continues to look bright.

Nick Beauchamp

Photo: Flickr


Sao Tome and Principe is a small island located off the African coast near the equator. The small island has a population of 190,344 and is the second-smallest country in Africa. The country is often not thought of when it comes to poverty, but about 66 percent of citizens live below the poverty line. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Sao Tome and Principe:

  1. Hunger in Sao Tome and Principe causes ongoing conflicts between the citizens in efforts to find food for their families or themselves. In an effort to end this, the World Food Programme (WFP) has provided 43,200 meals to primary school children in the country.
  2. More than one-third of child deaths in the country are caused by undernutrition, mostly from the increased severity of diseases as a complication of such.
  3. Children who up to age two are prone to cognitive development impairment. About 65 percent of newborns in the country do not receive breast milk within one hour of birth. During the period of switching between breast milk and solid foods (between six and nine months of age), 40 percent of infants are not fed appropriately with breast milk and solid foods.
  4. Malnutrition consequently makes the country’s productivity and growth drop enormously.
  5. Causes of undernutrition in Sao Tome and Principe include poor infant feeding, the price of food, and high disease burden. Undernutrition in Sao Tome and Principe increases the chances of falling sick or the severity of diseases. Parasitic infestation often diverts nutrients from the body and can cause blood loss and anemia.
  6. The country relies heavily on imports, but food availability is unpredictable. The infrastructure can be a challenge, as deep-sea ports and landing strips are completely unavailable on days with inclement weather. Even on fair-weather days, importation is difficult, as there is only one airport strip on the island.
  7. The World Food Programme has been present in Sao Tome and Principe since 1976. Education is the organization’s primary goal to help end hunger in Sao Tome and Principe.
  8. The World Food Programme focuses on supporting the government with capacity development activities. The organization’s goal is for the country to eventually provide its national school feeding program without assistance. WFP hopes to gradually give the responsibility of the program to the government.
  9. WFP is also working with UNICEF to improve hygiene and sanitation in schools.
  10. WFP intends to work with the country’s government to integrate nutrition learning in the national nutrition policy.

Paige Wilson

Photo: Flickr