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What are the current issues in Sao Tome and Principe

São Tomé and Principe, ranked 144 out of 186 on the 2013 Human Development Index, continues to experience financial and socio-economic difficulties.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.One in eight childrendies before the age of five, and the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate is 10 percent.

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.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Sao Tome and Principe

After 30 years of implementing a school feeding programme in Sao Tomé and Príncipe, WFP is preparing to transition its school feeding programme to the government under a new development project that beganin 2012 and is scheduled to end with a complete handover to the government in 2016. This follows the establishment of a National School Feeding and Health Programme with WFP’s support in 2010 and the National Assembly’s approval of a school feeding and health policy in 2011.

The project will focus on building the Government’s capacity to sucessfully manage a national school feeding programme while phasing the transfer of responsibilities for providing a daily hot meal to 43,200 school children from WFP’s school feeding programme. A timeline for the transition has been established in consultation with the Government with annual reviews of activities and milestones planned.

WFP has already established the basic conditions for the component’s implementation, including kitchens equipped with eco-stoves, storage at schools, Parent Teacher Associations, teacher monitoring and school gardens in many schools.The number of school children covered by WFP food assistance will decrease as these school children become absorbed into the government-run school feeding programme.

By providing daily hot meals to primary school students (1st to 6th grades), WFP contributes to promoting access to education, increasing enrolment rates, stabilizing attendance rates (currently 97%) and reducing drop-out rates of older students. The meals also help to enhance students’ ability to concentrate during class.

Under the capacity development and national ownership component, WFP will focus on three priority areas: 1. Funding and Budgeting— WFP will support the Ministry of Education to develop a resource mobilization strategy aimed at stable, multi-year funding. 2. Cost-effective programme design—WFP will provide technical assistance to explore the introduction of innovative modalities such as light meals (e.g. snacks and soups) and vouchers to schools for the local purchase of fruits, vegetables and fish. 3. Institutional arrangements for implementation monitoring and accountability — WFP will provide support to PNASE to identify resource and capacity gaps. In addition, WFP will provide trainings and support on procurement, logistics, food storage and M & E.

The strategic objectives of the project are to:

  • Maintain the high level of access to education and human capital development in assisted schools and kindergartens;
  • Strengthen the capacity of government ministries, particularly the National School Feeding and Health Programme (PNASE), in school feeding management, resource mobilization, M&E and other critical areas; and
  • Transfer school feeding management responsibilities from WFP to PNASE and provide continued technical assistance over the five-year project period in order to lay the groundwork for a sustainable, nationally-owned school feeding programme.

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