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