São Tomé & Principe continues to experience financial and socio-economic difficulties despite its GDP of US$1,133 per capita (2010 estimate - IMF). The country is prone to natural disasters such as floods and landslides, negatively affecting crops and road access as well as destroying houses and household assets. According to the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) carried out by WFP in 2007, around 23 percent of the population (36,000 persons) suffers from food insecurity.
The Poverty Profile Report of São Tomé & Principe (study funded by the African Development Bank and UNDP in 2001), revealed that 54 percent of the country's estimated population of 154,000 people live below the poverty threshold; 15 percent of these live in extreme poverty with limited access to education, basic sanitation and health facilities and drinking water.
Every eighth child dies before the age of 5, and life expectancy is 65 years. The chronic malnutrition rate among children under 5 is 34 percent while the global acute malnutrition rate is 9 percent. As these figures are from 2006, it is likely they have increased in the face of higher food prices. The education system is not achieving universal coverage, as the combined gross enrolment rate for primary, secondary and tertiary schools is only 68.1 percent. The country is highly dependent on imports and no cereals are locally produced.
The economy is almost entirely based on a single cash crop, cacao, but its annual output has slumped sharply in recent years. Food availability and market stability, especially in the peak of the rainy season, are unpredictable due to limited infrastructure (lack of a deep-sea port and a short airstrip). Fishing activities are limited due to the small size of boats and a lack of navigation and communication equipment. Consequently, the country suffers from stock shortages, particularly for cereals.