Learn more about specific causes in Sao Tome and Principe that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentThe largest environmental concerns facing Sao Tome and Principe are land and water pollution.1 The lack of access to water sanitation facilities and the general lack of water treatment centers contribute to this problem significantly. The rate of access to sanitation facilities overall is only 35%, with the average access rate in rural areas as low as 23.3%. Soil degradation and overexploitation have also been noted as environmental concerns in Sao Tome and Principe, which comes as little surprise due to the nation’s heavy reliance on cocoa exports. The country struggles with the negative effects of coastal erosion and flooding as results of climate change.2
FamilyThe largest familial concerns facing Sao Tome and Principe families involve child labor, high unemployment, and poverty. These factors combine to reinforce cycles of poverty by forcing younger generations into the same cycles of health risk and limited education as the previous generations.1 Due to cultural norms and prejudices, female-led households are predisposed to poverty due to the dual burdens of their limited earning potential and single parenting. Domestic violence against women is common and a widespread problem that is perpetuated by cultural stigmas and expectations.2 Women do have limited areas of power, such as having the legal right to inherit her family’s land. It is expected culturally that men and women will have multiple partners throughout their adult lives, and traditional Christian marriage is Read More mostly contained to the upper and elite classes.3 Show Less
Human RightsThe largest human rights concerns in Sao Tome and Principe are poor prison conditions, corruption, violence, and discrimination against women. Police are widely held to be ineffective and corrupt. This further compounds on alleged human rights abuses due to the fact that those charged with protecting the rights of its citizens are engaged in unlawful activity themselves. The judicial system is equally flawed, with judges who reportedly accept bribes. The government only recently made sexual harassment illegal, but data is unavailable as to whether or not anyone had been prosecuted.1 In 2012, the Public Integrity Center was established with the hopes of decreasing corruption and crime. Money laundering and narcotics trafficking are commonplace in Sao Tome and Principe.2
EducationThe educational system of Sao Tome and Principe faces serious challenges in its ability to provide quality education to its student age population.1 In 2012 the government created an Education Policy Charter outlining goals to provide 12 years of free and quality education for every child by 2020. This plan seeks to address problems like the fact that 60% of the teachers in Sao Tome and Principe are unqualified to teach.2 The national literacy rate is at 75%, with a male literacy rate of 82% and a female literacy rate of 69%.3
PovertyPoverty and high unemployment are pressing concerns in Sao Tome and Principe. Roughly 66% of Sao Tome and Principe citizens live in poverty. 1-2 Furthermore, the unemployment rate is 14.2%, limiting citizens’ potential to work their way out of poverty with education.3 The World Bank has provided strategies to the Sao Tome and Principe government in order to aid with the alleviation of poverty. The institution has agreed to provide nearly $20 million in order to decrease the poverty rate and provide a buffer to protect the citizens from external shocks to the economy.4
ReligionThe constitution of Sao Tome and Principe officially upholds and protects religious freedom. There have been no reports of government-based or societal discrimination against those who practice different religious beliefs. Approximately 55% of Sao Tome and Principe’s population is Roman Catholic, while 15% belong to various Protestant denominations and over 20% are nonreligious, and 6.2% belong to other religions.1
Clean WaterRoughly 97% of the population on the islands has access to clean water. Much of the clean water availability in Sao Tome and Principe depends on the climate and amount of yearly rainfall. In rural areas, access to proper sanitation facilities is as low as 23.3% of the population. Overall access rate of both islands is 34.4%.1
EconomyThe regulatory system for economy in Sao Tome and Principe is riddled with corruption, and the island countries score well below the regional and world averages of governmental transparency. Oil extraction and developmental aid are sources of corruption, the profits of which are dispersed mostly among the elite.1 Furthermore, the economy has traditionally been dependent on exports of cocoa, which account for roughly 95% of Sao Tome and Principe’s exports. An unemployment rate of 13.6% is further inhibiting the functioning of the economy.2 Approximately 66% of the population lives below the poverty line.3
GovernmentThe Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe is a semi-presidential republic made up of two separate island provinces, Sao Tome and Principe.1 Corruption pervades almost all sectors of Sao Tome and Principe. Instances of corruption can be commonly found in the economic and judicial systems. Sao Tome and Principe rank 62 out of 176 on the Corruption Perceptions index, and the public rates the government 46 of 100 for overall transparency.2 As Sao Tome and Principe looks to tap into predicted oil reserves, concerns grow about the likelihood that the elite will be the primary benefactors of this profit. The high amounts of developmental aid from international donors as well as oil reserves have only served to further the high amounts of corruption within Read More the procurement process.3 Show Less
HealthSao Tome and Principe has faced challenges to providing quality healthcare to its citizens. The country has high rates of deaths from preventable diseases such as tuberculosis.1 The government spent 8.4% of its GDP on healthcare in 2014.2 One challenge is the lack of qualified medical staff and specialized personnel, which limits the number of treatments they can offer.3 Life expectancy has steadily risen despite difficulty providing skilled healthcare, with females living until 72 and males until 69.4
ChildrenOne of the largest concerns surrounding children in Sao Tome and Principe is the prevalence of child labor. Child labor is most likely to be found in rural areas on plantations or farms. Children forced to engage in child labor are not only at risk due to the immediate tasks they are subjected to, but also because children in these situations are limited in their educational and extracurricular development.1 In 2016 the government approved a National Action Plan for the Elimination of Child Labor and National Policy on Child Protection.2 UNICEF has also worked in Sao Tome and Principe to help the government develop adequate child protection measures. The country is also working to reform their early education programs, since they are currently lacking in Read More resources and government funding.3 Show Less
AnimalsThe islands are part of an archipelago, and the volcanic origins of the island near the equator create a wet tropical climate. Due to the secluded environment of the island forest, gigantism and dwarfism are prevalent in the local species. There are also many endemic species such as the Sao Tome giant sunbird, and dwarf olive ibis. The forests are still recovering from clear-cutting during the sixteenth century for sugar cane plantations and plantations from the nineteenth century that have since been abandoned. Since the 1980s, national programs have been working to claim parts of the islands as legally protected.1
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