São Tomé and Principe, ranked 144 out of 186 on the 2013 Human Development Index, continues to experience financial and socio-economic difficulties. The country is prone to natural disasters such as floods and landslides, which negatively affect crops and road access, in addition to destroying houses and household assets. 

According to the most recent household consumption survey conducted by the National Statistics Institute in 2010, around 23 percent of São Tomé and Principe’s population faces severe poverty. Data from the 2013 Human Development Report revealed that 44.7 percent of the population lives in absolute poverty, including 10.7 percent in extreme poverty, with limited access to education, health facilities, drinking water and basic sanitation. The poverty threshold is estimated at US$611 per year, the equivalent of US$1.70 per person per day.

One in eight children in São Tomé and Principe dies before the age of five, and life expectancy is 65 years. Data from the last Demographic and Sanitation Survey (2008/2009) revealed that the chronic malnutrition rate among children under five is 29 percent, while the global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate is 10 percent. The combined gross enrolment rate for primary, secondary and tertiary schools is just 68 percent. 

The country is highly dependent on imports, as no cereals are produced locally. The economy is almost entirely based on a single cash crop, cacao, and its annual output has declined sharply in recent years. Food availability and market stability, especially at the peak of the rainy season, are unpredictable due to limited infrastructure, especially the absence of a deep-sea port and a short airstrip. Fishing activities are limited due to the lack of adequate resources as well as insufficient navigation and communication equipment.