Diseases in Sao Tome and Principe
Sao Tome and Principe is a developing country located on the African west coast. More than two-thirds of the population of this small island state lives on under $3.20 a day and faces the effects of critical disease. However, many organizations are working with the country to fight the war against diseases in Sao Tome and Principe.

Common Diseases in Sao Tome and Principe

Three of the most common diseases in Sao Tome and Principe are tuberculosis (TB), malaria and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

TB is an airborne disease caused mainly by air droplets that someone infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmits; it is endemic in Sao Tome and Principe. TB can cause various pulmonary symptoms and affect the lymphatic system, joints and even the central nervous system.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease; it is common in the country. Malaria can be very fatal to the victims and cause them to suffer from flu-like symptoms and high fevers.

Finally, HIV is a virus that attacks the immune system and can lead to dangerous acquired immunodeficiency symptoms (AIDS); it is still a significant problem in Sao Tome and Principe.

Key Players in Supporting Sao Tome and Principe

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Fund have been key players in supporting the fight against diseases in Sao Tome and Principe. Since 2005, the organizations have funded the country in its efforts against HIV, TB and malaria.

Over the years, the organizations have spent $4.5 million for HIV, $3.9 million for TB and $25.4 million for malaria. Through this funding, the UNDP has been able to ally with the National TB Program to develop various treatment and education plans for patients. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016, there was a 63% decrease in TB mortality since 2000, a 95% detection rate for the disease and a 78% success rate in treating patients.

The UNDP also runs an HIV program; it supports those living with HIV and counsels populations who are at a higher risk for HIV about preventative actions. From 2008 to 2014, the prevalence rate of HIV among 15 to 49-year-olds declined from 1.5% to 0.5%. According to UNDP’s data from 2018, 249,700 people received counseling and HIV testing.

Sao Tome and Principe observed its greatest success in defeating malaria. Mortality rates from malaria have declined from 3.9 to 0.5 cases per 100,000 people. Although the Global Fund is no longer supporting the malaria program, it helped distribute 503,000 bed nets, reaching 100% of the population, and treated 56,800 cases of malaria according to UNDP in 2018. The incidence of malaria morbidity decreased from 65.5 to 11.3 cases per 1,000 people in the time frame between 2012 and 2016. Further, UNDP has granted approximately another $6 million to support the complete eradication of malaria and further control TB and HIV.

Others in the Fight to Eradicate Diseases in Sao Tome and Principe

Although UNDP and the Global Fund have been the major players in supporting the country, there are other groups that have helped toward the goal of eradication of critical diseases in Sao Tome and Principe. In 2015, Brazil spent over $500,000 to build a laboratory that would be focused on diagnosing and treating TB. This laboratory would ensure that the patients would receive quicker lab results and correct diagnoses.

Medical Care Development International, a nonprofit organization, has also taken up a project that will last from 2019-2023. It aims to bolster the ability of the military to provide HIV/AIDs care for its members and population in Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe. The project will increase its capacity to provide care in the military health facilities and laboratories.

A Ray of Hope for Sao Tome and Principe

Despite the dangers of malaria, TB and HIV, the people of Sao Tome and Principe can have hope in the fact that there are many international allies willing to provide support in their fight against these diseases. These common diseases in Sao Tome and Principe may still impose fatal effects on its victims; however, Sao Tome and Principe is not alone in its fight to protect its people.

San Sung Kim
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in Sao Tome and Principe
Sao Tome and Principe (STP) is a small island nation just north of the Equator. This formal Portuguese colony achieved its independence in 1975. As a Portuguese colony, from 1470 to 1975, people knew Sao Tome and Principe for its sugar production and trade. The slave labor utilized in the island’s sugar industry persisted into the 20th century. The country’s economy is largely dependent on agricultural exports, but the Sao Tome and Principe government is making efforts to diversify its economy. Here are the top 10 facts about living conditions in Sao Tome and Principe.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Sao Tome and Principe

  1. Life expectancy in Sao Tome and Principe is 70.2 years old. While this is lower than life expectancy in developed countries such as the U.S. or the U.K., STP’s life expectancy is higher than its neighbors. Compared to other developing nations in Africa such as Gabon, Angola, Nigeria, Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, STP has a higher life expectancy.
  2. As of 2018, the literacy rate in STP was 92.8 percent. Primary level education, which lasts for six years, is compulsory and free of charge. This, combined with a high primary school enrollment of 97 percent, resulted in a high literacy rate. However, the quality of education and teachers raises some concerns. To remedy this, in cooperation with the Global Partnerships for Education (GPE) and the World Bank, the STP government is striving to improve the quality of education facilities and training of teachers.
  3. About 97.1 percent of the STP population has access to an improved water source. While STP has access to more than 50 natural water sources, these sources are unevenly distributed within the island. With the support of the U.N. Environment and the Global Environment Facility, STP enacted its first water law in January 2018. The new law guides the use and control of water with the aim of long-term water sustainability and access to water for all populace in STP.
  4. Sixty-eight percent of the population in STP has access to electricity. While 87 percent of the urban area has access to electricity, only 22 percent of the rural areas in the STP have access to electricity. This lack of access to electricity for the rural populace negatively affects the living conditions in Sao Tome and Principe. To remedy this, the STP government is cooperating with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in creating hydro-powered power plants which will utilize STP’s multiple rivers to generate power.
  5. Approximately 66.2 percent of the STP population lives below the poverty line. STP’s economic dependence on cacao export resulted in the country’s over-dependence on its agricultural sector. The majority of STP’s population depends on agriculture for their income. The recent fall in cacao prices severely affected the STP’s economy. To remedy this, the STP government is investing in the country’s tourism industry. STP is also co-developing the recently discovered oil in the Gulf of Guinea with Nigeria.
  6. STP relies on foreign imports to support itself. Living conditions in Sao Tome and Principe depend heavily upon foreign imports. The majority of food, fuels, manufactured goods and consumer goods enter STP as imports. This leaves STP’s economy and access to goods vulnerable to the fluctuating international prices of goods. For example, of the estimated GDP of $686 million in 2017, $127.7 million went into foreign good imports.
  7. STP also relies heavily on foreign aid. UNICEF’s 2018 report showed concern that the GDP of the STP is still heavily dependent upon foreign aid. According to the report, only 14.9 percent of STP’s GDP came from domestic resources. In 2019, 90 percent of STP’s country budget received funding from foreign aid.
  8. Infant mortality in STP is in sharp decline since 1992. Compared to the 69.5 per 1,000 infant mortality rate in 1992, infant mortality in STP declined to 24.4 per 1,000 as of 2018. In UNICEF’s 2018 annual report, UNICEF noted the continuous progress that the STP government is making in improving access to basic services, education, maternal health and treating HIV/AIDS and malaria.
  9. STP will graduate from the U.N.’s list of least developed countries. According to the World Economic Outlook report, STP and Angola will leave the U.N.’s group of least developed countries. Angola will graduate from the list in 2021 and STP will graduate in 2024. This reflects the continuously improving living conditions in Sao Tome and Principe and Angola.
  10. As of 2017, the unemployment rate in STP is 12.2 percent. This unemployment rate was a 0.4 percent drop from 2016. However, some experts wonder if this truly represents the living conditions in Sao Tome and Principe. Since many workers in STP work as farmers, experts are calling for improvements in STP’s manufacturing and tourism sectors.

Living conditions in Sao Tome and Principe are steadily improving. There are still many mountains that the STP government must climb in order to lead its country into a more prosperous future. While the STP economy’s dependence on agriculture and foreign aid is concerning, the high literacy rate in STP reflects the potential for growth. STP’s planned graduation from the U.N.’s list of least developed countries certainly seems to reflect this optimism. With this progress, a better future is surely coming for the people of STP.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

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% of the population was living below the poverty line, and 33% 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.

In spite of 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%. 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% 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% 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 these countries 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 these two countries 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 these two countries 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 these countries 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 these countries 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