São Tomé and Príncipe
Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Progress Report

São Tomé and Principe’s economy is heavily dependent on the international economy. The study assessed the country's macroeconomic, structural, and social policies in support of growth and poverty reduction. The implementation of the National poverty reduction strategy (NPRS) through People's Action Party (PAP) made some progress with the help of reforms implemented through government incentives. PAP envisages political measures, legislative and regulatory actions, restructuring and reorganization of government agencies, and Public Investment Program (PIP) for the different pillars of the NPRS. The study assessed that successful implementation of NPRS requires stability, real ownership of NPRS, and consistency between PIP and PAP.


São Tomé and Principe’s economy is heavily dependent on the international economy. The study assessed the country's macroeconomic, structural, and social policies in support of growth and poverty reduction. The implementation of the National poverty reduction strategy (NPRS) through People's Action Party (PAP) made some progress with the help of reforms implemented through government incentives. PAP envisages political measures, legislative and regulatory actions, restructuring and reorganization of government agencies, and Public Investment Program (PIP) for the different pillars of the NPRS. The study assessed that successful implementation of NPRS requires stability, real ownership of NPRS, and consistency between PIP and PAP.


The Priority Action Program (PAP) 2006-2008 is a tool for implementing the NPRS by synergizing the efforts of the nation and those of the development partners to achieve a single objective: the promotion of economic growth and poverty reduction to enhance the wellbeing of the population.

To achieve that objective, the PAP implementation strategy envisages three broad categories of actions:

1. The implementation and/or deepening of the reforms in the fiscal sectors and in the legal or regulatory frameworks that influence the decisions of private entrepreneurs, including the poor.

2. The launching of a major public works program—roads, port and airport, energy and water—to help the country take off and to reduce the costs of imports and exports, which negatively affect economic and social life.

3. Stop the erosion of human capital as an absolute priority of the PAP, under which the strategy for the next three years is to improve the quality of education and its accessibility to the poor, and to offer students in secondary education the possibility to prepare for technical and vocational careers. In the area of health, to continue the programs to combat AIDS and the malaria vector, and to enable the Sao Tome Hospital Center to provide specialist services, while improving health care in district centers and secondary facilities. In addition, targeted and integrated actions aimed at persons living in extreme poverty will also be continued.

To that end, the PAP (2006-08) envisages political measures, legislative and regulatory actions, restructuring and reorganization of government agencies, and an annual Public Investment Program (PIP) for the different pillars of the NPRS.

The purpose of this report, therefore, is to assess the degree of implementation of the PAP in 2006.


2.1 Economic Performance in 2006

The economy of São Tomé and Príncipe continues to be heavily dependent on the situation of the international economy, as reflected in the steady deterioration of its terms of trade, mainly as a result of rising oil prices, the sharp appreciation in the currencies of São Tomé and Príncipe’s trading markets, combined with a steady decline in the price of its principal export product, cocoa.

Notwithstanding this market situation, which resulted in a larger trade deficit, economic activity improved somewhat, driven mainly by the services and construction sectors, with GDP growing by more than 6 percent in 2006 which, if sustained, is sufficient for STP to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Year-on-year inflation rose to 24.6 percent in 2006, compared with 17.2 percent in 2005, as a result of temporary exogenous factors and fiscal and monetary growth, namely the domestic adjustment in fuel prices, large unforeseen inflows of private capital and the resulting accumulation of foreign exchange deposits, as well as some unplanned fiscal expenditure related to elections.

Figure 1.
Figure 1.

Consumer Price Index

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2008, 154; 10.5089/9781451835151.002.A001

Source: INE, Consumer Price Index

Fiscal performance improved somewhat in 2006. The primary balance derived form the difference between the government’s current revenue and its expenditure remained close to program targets (15.5 percent of GDP).

Despite the imbalances recorded in the first half of 2006, mainly as a result of three major elections (presidential, legislative, local and regional governments) being held in the same year, and also as a result of the need to advance resources to the Treasury budgets to fund projects pending financing by international donors, this objective was met thanks to the measures adopted to collect overdue indirect taxes on petroleum products and the raising of surtaxes on some imported goods, including alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and as a result of the measures adopted to curtail communications-related expenses.

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Source: INE and Central Bank and IMF estimates

Budget Directorate

and b) Estimates

The Central Bank continued its policy of controlling inflation in close coordination with fiscal policy, while maintaining a flexible exchange rate. The Central Bank resumed its single-price auctions and direct sales of foreign exchange based on market trends. The monetary authority continued to observe its goal of maintaining positive real interest rates. The Central Bank’s reference rate changed from 18.2 percent in 2005 to 28 percent in 2006.

In order to mop up the excess liquidity found in the economy in 2006, the Central Bank issued certificates of deposit (CDs) for the first time at the end of December, while minimum reserve requirements were increased to 24.5 percent in 2006.

Structural reforms progressed significantly. The powers of the Inspectorate General of Finance were reinforced so that it could better supervise and audit the government’s financial operations, and steps are being taken to restructure the port and airport companies. Significant progress was also made in preparing the integrated government financial management system for execution of the budget, financials, capital assets and public accounts, with the approval of the framework law on government finance and a new budget classification.

The government forged ahead with other structural reforms to improve the business climate and strengthen governance. In that connection, the arbitration law was promulgated and an arbitration center set up. The anti-money laundering law was submitted to the National Assembly for approval along with the tax reform law, which seeks to reduce some tax rates and to simplify the procedures for making tax payments.

2.2 Economic Outlook for 2007

  1. The economic outlook for 2006 remains positive overall. The outlook is particularly good for external debt relief, which would fundamentally enhance the country’s external credibility.

  2. The current outlook for the Sãotomean economy points to moderate growth in economic activity for 2007. After an 8-percent growth in GDP in 2006, a rate of 7 percent is projected for 2007, which will be a reflection of the structural reforms initiated at end-2006.

  3. The goal of budgetary policy for 2007 will continue to be budget tightening, the ultimate goal being to reduce the primary deficit to 12 percent of GDP.

  4. Like budgetary policy, monetary policy for 2007 will continue to be restrictive, with a view to maintaining price stability by making more active use of monetary and exchange policy instruments.

  5. In 2007, contrary to previous years, the dynamics of the Sãotomean economy may be positively influenced by the possible removal of one of the imbalances that had accumulated in recent years and had largely hampered the country’s economic growth, namely the public debt. However, given the continued high level of inflation and, consequently, the current interest rate hikes, there will be an increase in the burden of debt service on household expenses and a reduction in the purchasing power of their income, which factors will determine the growth of private consumption. On the other hand, the imbalance in the budget and the resulting need to contain public sector spending will involve limited growth of consumption and public investment.

  6. In addition, despite the high growth rate of the principal markets to which the country exports, two international phenomena may be particularly problematic for the Sãotomean economy: (i) the rise in oil prices accompanied by the economy’s heavy dependence on oil1; (ii) greater international competition in markets where Sãotomean exports are very specialized, given the increasing integration of international trade.

  7. São Tomé and Príncipe is in the process of oil exploration and production that is vital for shaping the country’s future. It is entering into several agreements with international oil organizations to realize this activity.

  8. Prospective oil exploration in São Tomé and Príncipe will have a profound impact on the Sãotomean society, bringing with it unlimited expectations—job opportunities, new markets, dramatic improvements in infrastructure and services—and creating a very promising outlook for the economy, not only in the oil industry but also in the other sectors that shape the economic system. As a result, its effects will be felt in all sectors of the country’s economic, social and political life.

  9. In that regard, debt forgiveness has been an important step that has opened avenues for the country to access international resources. It has also meant that fewer resources are being sent abroad and can be used to boost domestic saving that will be channeled into poverty reduction projects.

  10. Notwithstanding, the country faces the major challenge of determining how it will manage these expectations in light of its weak institutions and, especially, the dearth of human resources.

  11. In order to maximize the positive impact of these opportunities, the government, in the context of program implementation, has set as a priority the pursuit of goals that would reduce poverty, targeting mainly the areas of education, health, public works, the judicial system, and law and order, in addition to maintaining sustainable economic and social development, based on a disciplined and rational approach to the use of public resources.


3.1 Status of NPRS implementation

As in recent years, the NPRS annual action plan has been only partially implemented. This year, the failure to completely implement the objectives was the result of mainly exogenous factors, such as the holding of successive elections leading to a long period of “non governance,” which in turn resulted in only partial completion of the actions planned for this year.

Despite the unfavorable climate for achieving NPRS objectives, the structural reforms implemented starting in the second half of the year had, and will continue to have in subsequent years, a positive impact on poverty reduction goals and growth facilitation.

Regarding the implementation of the various pillars of the action plan, the following was observed:

3.1.1. Pillar 1: “Reform of public institutions, capacity-building, and promotion of a good governance policy.”

The central objective of this pillar is to improve the conditions of political, economic and financial governance, with a view to fostering private enterprise and domestic and foreign investment. To that end, in 2006 the government implemented some measures (Annex 1) and took action in the following areas: Program on political governance and promotion of a good governance policy

In the context of the political governance program, a new organizational structure of the XI constitutional government was put in place and with it a Ministry of Public Administration, State Reform, and Territorial Administration aimed at implementing the necessary reforms. To that end, the following measures were taken:

1. Resizing, reorganization and modernization of government agencies:

  • Preparation of studies on the new hours of work for the civil service;

  • Revision of the civil service statute;

  • Training of managers;

  • Acquisition of vehicles for units with the greatest need.

2. Under the Regional and Local Governance Program, local government elections were held and new management bodies installed in the local authorities. The holding of regional and local government elections gave impetus to the decentralization of administrative systems as well as the planned transfer of capital under the OGE to local authorities, in the amount of 38.9 billion dobras, which will not only make it possible to improve local government service provision but will also contribute to the promotion of local development strategies, including the implementation of labor-intensive projects. These actions will in turn help create a climate conducive to local development.

3. The fifth standing committee on human rights, citizenship and gender issues was established in the National Assembly.

4. Under the Judicial Governance Program and with the support of international technical assistance, the code of criminal procedure, public magistrates’ statute, revision of the basic law on the judicial system, penal code and code of criminal procedure were completed. Judges and local government officials received training to improve their job performance.

5. In the area of civil society, development training sessions were conducted under FNGO leadership on building the intervention capacity of NGOs in the following areas:

  • Prevention of HIV/AIDS and malaria (27 NGOs);

  • Monitoring and assessment for community committees (22 NGOs);

  • Leadership capacity (47 NGOs);

  • Accounting and information technology course (25 NGOs);

  • Project preparation (open to all NGOs).

6. The following social communications activities were carried out:

Broader coverage of the radio broadcasting network; it was possible to extend the national radio network to all the communities in the south and the autonomous region of Principe, so these communities now have access to information through this medium. Also in the area of community access to information, the Directorate General of Media produces a weekly news bulletin in partnership with UNICEF, which is also distributed in the rural areas. With respect to television, activities are under way to increase the number of stations so that the entire autonomous region of Principe can have access to TV and radio in the first half of 2007.

Capacity building for the media through the training workshop on “Freedom of the press and the role of the media in implementing the National Poverty Reduction Strategy.” Economic and Financial Governance

Further to the structural reforms that had advanced considerably by end-2006, the following actions were taken in the area of economic and financial governance:

  • adoption of a legislative package on tax reform, the law establishing the arbitration court, and approval of the commercial codes;

  • initiation of government financial reform with the support of the World Bank, with the following activities being under way:

    1. adoption of new categories of expense in accordance with international practices;

    2. new draft budget law; new budget classifier;

    3. establishment of an integrated computerized government financial management system (SAFE), resulting in the establishment and harmonization of programming rules and procedures, and the execution, control and assessment of public resources.

The implementation of this integrated and computerized system will provide timely and reliable information on budget execution by means of the new budget classifier2. This in turn will allow civil society to know, monitor, and assess clearly and transparently which program will be implemented, for what purpose, and what results can be expected from its implementation; the executing agency; the inputs used to obtain the output; the scope of government action in which the expenditure will be made; and the source of financing.

4. The law defining the regulations for internal controls was submitted for approval. It is intended to increase the powers of the Inspectorate General of Finance as regards supervision and auditing of the financial operations of central and local government and public enterprises. In order to build the auditing and tax inspection capacity of the Inspectorate General of Finance, a database was established to register and track government financial operations. Those actions resulted in the improvement of public resource management.

  • Start of the Reform of government procurement in May 2006, also with the support of the World Bank. Creation of a National Coordination and Monitoring Committee (CNCS) to organize and prepare the work. Preparation of a first preliminary report addressing the weaknesses of the bidding system, pending the confirmation and recruitment of an international consultant to participate in the reform activities per se.

  • Other measures adopted that are worthy of note in the sector are:

  • Assessment of the capacity to install information and communications technology infrastructure. Planning between the Ministry of Planning and Finance and other ministries, as well as an IT master plan to guide SAFE.

  • Drafting of the basic law on organization of the arbitration court;

  • Also pending approval is the legal regime governing customs violations and the Customs Code, which is intended to reorganize, adjust, simplify and modernize the services and mechanisms for updating and determining ways to prevent tax evasion and to facilitate more modern and efficient customs management.

3.1.2 Pillar 2: “Accelerated Redistributive Growth”

The central objective of this pillar is the creation of a favorable climate for private sector development, with emphasis on the following aspects: (1) government divestment of the productive sector; (2) transformation of the government into the regulator of the economy; (3) government intervention in infrastructure to create opportunities for private sector development.

In this context, the arbitration court was created in 2006 by promulgation of the arbitration law and installation of an arbitration center. This made it possible to update the legal framework for trade, which will in turn improve the business climate and promote competition and the private sector.

To foster export production by the poor, develop international trade by reducing commercial costs, and strengthen infrastructure and public services that underpin that activity, the government continued to implement the Diagnostic Study on Trade Integration and to conduct complementary activities that would permit integration at the lowest possible cost for the country.

There are plans to implement the new Investment Code after its approval by the Assembly. This will facilitate, among other things, equal treatment for nationals and foreigners with regard to tax and customs incentives, which will in turn stimulate investment in the country: investors will have less to pay back and investment will become more economically and financially feasible.

To create a business fabric, a sectoral strategy was adopted for development of the proper infrastructure for establishing industry, for development of the transport sector, and for improved and expanded power distribution.

The same strategy used business modalities that guarantee strong participation by the private sector in the electricity sector. The success of those modalities will then help promote public private partnerships (PPP). The result of this action involves decentralization of production costs by the government and improved productivity in the supply of public goods by private entities.

3.1.3 Pillar 3: “Creation of opportunities to increase and diversify the incomes of the poor”

This pillar aims to reduce the monetary poverty of the most vulnerable and eradicate hunger. To that end, action is to be taken in the different sectors, namely agriculture, fisheries, livestock, employment, creation of income generating activities, youth, women, and training for self-employment and first-time employment.

It has been projected hat in the next 15-20 years, the primary and fundamental objective of all government action will be to establish a stable economic and institutional environment by defining policies which, in the proper framework, would establish the structure and foster the development of rural and urban areas, revolving around:

Production growth and diversification;

Assurance of food security;

Improved socio-economic conditions for the population in rural, urban and peri-urban (Luchans and environs) areas;

Conservation of natural heritage;

Advancement of women and youth;

Development of export capacity.

Within that framework, the Priority Action Program, 2006 (PAP) under the NPRS plans to spend US$13,120,000 on Pillar III. It is estimated that financial execution of the 2006 PIP during the period amounted to approximately US$1,805,000 or 14 percent of the estimate. It should be noted that all the efforts undertaken focused on the following sectors:

a) Agriculture and Rural Development

With a view to improving the socioeconomic conditions of the people and revitalizing the economy, a number of actions were taken in the productive sectors to reduce poverty.

It should be noted that one of the factors that has limited agricultural production in São Tomé and Principe is the deterioration of the infrastructure of the irrigation system, its efficiency and usefulness for farmers, particularly in the dry season and in areas where water resources are scarce. In response to this problem, and with financial support from Taiwan, the irrigation system rehabilitation project was executed with a view to guaranteeing irrigation for a total of approximately 550 food growers and horticulture farmers.

On this basis, the farming communities of Bom Sucesso, Uba Cabra and Mesquita received the benefit of projects to build water reservoirs for the irrigation system, aimed at improving agricultural output and thereby ensuring that fresh produce is available to supply the domestic market. This will in turn improve the diet of Saotomeans, the returns to farmers and hence reduce poverty.

- The agriculture/livestock diversification project with financial support from Taiwan carried out activities to improve and increase the production of vegetables, legumes, fresh fruit and poultry for the domestic market. Its importance lies in testing, selecting, improving and then disseminating varieties to local farmers.

It should be noted that from an NPRS standpoint, the aim of this project is to guarantee the food security of our population and to combat hunger in the rural and urban populations through the consumption of plant and animal foods.

- Under the Program of Participatory Support for Artisanal Agriculture (PAPAFPA) actions were taken to provide functional literacy to youth and adults in rural areas, support in combating rodents, continued support for producers of organic cacao, vanilla and pepper processing. All the actions described are important for the NPRS because they increase the youth and adult literacy rate and they create favorable conditions for agricultural diversification, increasing the opportunities for raising the incomes of farmers through the activities practiced.

Other important activities carried out by the government that are worthy of mention are: support for marketing foodstuffs (agricultural fairs), and support for millet production. By holding agricultural fairs it was possible to increase the farmers’ incomes mainly in remote areas where there are few sales outlets since market access is limited given the lack of access roads and availability of transportation. It must be stressed that these activities are important to the development of agriculture and the supply of food to meet the needs of the general population in terms of food security.

- In the area of vocational training, the Project to Train Youth in Horticulture at the Technical Training Center for Agriculture and Livestock (CATAP) is noteworthy. This training, which has two facets—one in the area of increasing horticultural output and the other in the agrofood industry—is intended to train young farmers in techniques that would help increase output and use excess production for processing (production of tomato paste, pickled vegetables, and blood sausage). Two training cycles were developed training a total of 44 professional farmers (33 men and 11 women).

b) Fisheries

- The FAO-STP-3003 (A) Project with technical and financial assistance from FAO aims to improve the quality of fish after it is caught, in order to increase fishmongers’ income from sales. This project provided training for fishing communities in hygiene, conservation and marketing fish, acquiring means of conservation, ice boxes and cold storage rooms. The involvement of the NGO MARAPA in this activity should be noted; it participated in the process of organizing the sector and in training.

- Capacity Building Project for the Associative Movement of Fishermen, financed by FAO, is intended to increase the incomes of fishermen by raising awareness and creating “cooperative clusters” (ninhos cooperativos) in fishing communities, and introducing new technologies for building better canoes (smoother sailing, improved capacity in terms of catch size and replacement of wood by plywood in their construction).

Under the project, 12 “cooperative clusters”3 were established and 20 PROA canoes were built (of the planned 30).

It should be stressed that this new technology has considerably improved the working and living conditions of artisanal fishermen, which dovetails with the government’s policy as defined in the NPRS for reducing poverty in the most vulnerable population groups.

The advantages of this new technology in relation to traditional canoes is mainly the capacity for smoother sailing, using marine plywood and imported resins instead of local woods, which impact on the fragile ecosystems of the islands.

- Project to support grassroots communities in local governance and poverty reduction, financed by UNDP for 20 communities in the poorest district of the country (Caué). A microfinance statute was drafted under that project to grant microcredits for microprojects submitted by the communities in the areas of agriculture, fisheries, and livestock.

A community store was set up and stocked to sell fishing and other inputs to the people in Malanza, Porto Alegre and neighboring areas. It is important to highlight the role that NGOs played in this project. It helped build their capacity for interventions of this kind and as civil society organizations working towards poverty reduction.

c) Rehabilitation of rural infrastructure

In the area of infrastructure, the government (through the road maintenance fund) in partnership with the European Union (EDF), has been rehabilitating and maintaining some rural roads, with the participation of Road Maintenance Interest Groups (GIME). This activity of maintaining principal and secondary roads has contributed to the creation of a total of some 1400 new jobs in rural and urban areas, thereby increasing the incomes of the most disadvantaged segments of the population.

It should be mentioned that some rural dirt roads have been rehabilitated, namely, the segment linking Abade to Sao Januário (0.72 km) and Palha - Cabeça Cal (0.76 km).

These activities within the government’s policy framework of poverty reduction and are aimed at improving the access of local communities to the domestic market and guaranteeing better circulation of vehicles and people.

Tables 1 and 2 show that the NPRS Priority Action Plan (PAP) for 2006-2008 reflects projects that were identified and scheduled for 2006 but did not have financing in the 2006 PIP for their implementation. Consequently, even the projects planned for the 2006 PIP were not executed owing to the scarcity of resources.

Table 1

–Projects listed in the PAP4-2006 and executed under the PIP

(millions of USD)

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Sources: Planning Directorate, Public Investment Program (PIP) 2006
Table 2

–Projects under the PIP-2006 without assured financing

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Source: Planning Directorate, Public Investment Program (PIP) 2006

The government must therefore be approached within the framework of international cooperation to raise the financial resources necessary for the planned programs under Pillar III, taking into account the importance of this pillar for poverty reduction and compliance with the first MDG.

d) Monitoring of Pillar III Indicators

In preparing the NPRS, a set of indicators and goals were defined to be attained within the framework of NPRS implementation in São Toméand Principe. As table 4 shows, it was not possible to track the indicators (agriculture and rural development) since the sectors involved could not provide the information.

Table 3

–Quantified Poverty Reduction Objectives, Indicators and Targets

(Agriculture and Rural Development)

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Sources: National Poverty Reduction Strategy/Priority Action Program 2006-2008
Table 4.

Program of Education Sector Spending (millions of USD)

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Sources: Planning Directorate and Budget Directorate

Below we list some constraints that explain why the sectors could not produce data to quantify the poverty reduction indicators:

  • - The delay in conducting the household budget survey (HBS) by the National Statistics Institute made it impossible to know the intensity, incidence, and depth of poverty in rural areas;

  • - The failure to conduct the agricultural census (RU) for more than 10 years to take stock of the real situation in the sector after the process of land redistribution, thereby creating problems for the definition of indicators and targets for the sector and consequently their monitoring and evaluation;

  • - The fact that the statistics units in the Ministry of Economy were nonfunctional in terms of producing statistical data.

3.1.4 Pillar 4: “Human resources development and improved access to basic social services.”

As this is one of the pillars that does the most to improve the living conditions of the population given that human capacity clearly contributes to economic growth, the government has prioritized this pillar through the essential areas of the NPRS (education, health, water and basic sanitation) and a special effort was made in the component sectors. Below is a review of the performance of those sectors. Education

Given the importance of education in reducing poverty, the PAP puts forward the following objectives for the sector:

a) eradication of illiteracy;

b) universal basic education that is mandatory up to grade 6, with particular attention to broadening access and improving the quality and effectiveness of the teaching-apprenticeship process;

c) creation of a technical secondary education system with strong emphasis on job training;

d) building the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Education.

These objectives are identified with the program of the XI constitutional government in education and take into consideration the need to meet the targets set for the MDGs in the education sector.

To meet these objectives, the PAP planned to carry out actions in this area during the year valued at US$6,765,000. US$2,553,985.80 of the PIP was executed, which is equivalent to 38 percent of the target.

a) Literacy

In the area in literacy, the proposed objective is to significantly reduce the rate of illiteracy by consolidating literacy, post-literacy, and alternative basic education programs for youth and adults.

In that area, the literacy partnership program, cofinanced by the Brazilian government, has been implemented since 2001 to 2005 (phases 1 and 2) through two components.

1. - Functional Literacy: This component targets persons who do not know how to read or write, and includes integrated science, Portuguese language, and mathematics. During phases 1 and 2 of the program 2,148 enrollees were trained, 1,123 of them men and 1,025 women. Of that total, 1,584 completed the program, 825 men and 759 women. The dropout rate recorded was 26.7 percent.

2. Post-literacy: The purpose of this component is to prevent persons enrolled in functional literacy from backsliding into illiteracy. Thus they are given the opportunity to continue through grades 3 and 4. In that context, activities within this component are financed with the co-participation of the government through the PIP. During the period under analysis, 559 students enrolled in 2006, 360 of which completed the fourth phase during that time.

This component has had a positive impact because it has motivated these students to continue their education through evening classes, which led to the opening of night schools in the districts and motivated some girls to continue their studies, thereby helping to meet the objective of the broadening universal basic education.

The literacy partnership program also provided the opportunity for a Brazilian technical team to offer technical training to literacy workers and coordinators in São Tomé and in the autonomous region of Principe in youth and adult education methodology.

Given the impact of this program in the fist and second phases, in 2006 the government decided to continue planning a third phase. The resources released in 2006 made it possible to prepare a third phase of the program that would cover all the districts of the country.

b) Universal basic education. In this area, activities targeted increasing access and improving the quality of education, hence the government continues to deploy efforts to build/renovate schools and outfit classrooms, train teachers, and distribute textbooks, provide school transportation, and domestic scholarships for the poor, as shown in the list of projects executed in the sector that appears in Annex 2.

c) Technical and vocational training

This program is extremely important in reducing poverty, given the percentage of the young population that are unable to continue their studies after the 9th grade and decide to seek vocational training, or who seek their first job with no professional qualifications. In this context, the NPRS sees one of the objectives of the education sector as being the restructuring of secondary education and vocational training to increase access and improve quality by building and refurbishing schools, institutional development, and teacher training.

In 2006, 74 students were awarded domestic scholarships to the Polytechnic Center in various areas of study: construction/civil engineering, electrical engineering, metalwork, industrial maintenance, auto mechanics. In light of this effort, the government, in partnership with the French Cooperation Ministry, trained 16 students in the following courses: construction/civil engineering–6 students, 5 male and 1 female; electrical engineering–6 youths; and industrial maintenance–4 students, 3 male and 1 female. This training facilitated the entry of these young people into some enterprises, in particular EMAE, ENAPOR, Electro-Frio and others continued their studies in the National High School, while yet others went on to work at the Ministry of Infrastructure.

3.4.2 Health

The government’s actions are aimed at improving health, based on the four planned objectives for poverty reduction, namely:

  1. institutional strengthening, organization and operation of the health sector;

  2. health promotion and protection in combating disease;

  3. improvement in the provision of health care;

  4. improvement in health infrastructure.

To meet these objectives, the PAP planned actions amounting to US$9,433,000 for 2006 but only US$3,494,265.36 was spent, the equivalent of 35 percent of the planned amounts, including support from bilateral and multilateral partners such as the Global Fund, the Republic of Taiwan, Portugal, the U.S.A., the World Health Organization, UNFPA, UNICEF, NGOs, etc.

Table 5.

Planned Health Sector Spending (millions of USD)

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Source: Planning Directorate and Budget Directorate

a) Within the framework of institutional strengthening, organization and operation of the health sector, a number of activities were carried out including the installation and operationalization of the information system, which was based on acquiring computer equipment, hiring a consultant to design the system, and creating the tools for its operation. This action was financed by the Treasury and the PASS Project and has not yet been completed.

Steps were also taken to restructure the EFQS (Health Professionals Training School) with financing from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation through the Red Cross nursing school.

Eighty-three nurses were trained and 24 pharmacists, who were assigned to hospitals and health centers and stations.

The WHO continues to finance consulting activities in the area of institutional strengthening, namely for drafting national plans and policies in a variety of health sector areas.

b) Health promotion, protection and combating disease. Actions, funded by Taiwan, were taken to combat malaria with quite promising results. Anti-tuberculosis actions and implementation of the AIDS program were conducted with support from the Global Fund, PASS Project in Health, through awareness campaigns, in-home disinfection, use of treated mosquito nets, etc.

c) Improvement in the provision of health care throughout the country. Support was provided for the health districts through small-scale actions targeting improvements, supply of basic drugs, laboratory consumables, and reagents.

An important contribution to the provision of services was made under the Valle Flôr project financed by IPAD (the Portuguese development aid institute), which disseminated the health care services provided in all districts under the Health For All project.

UNFPA also provided support, as did UNICEF in the provision of mother-and-child care, and GAVI in immunization and the introduction of new vaccines.

d) Infrastructure improvement

Construction of the Cantagalo Health Center was launched and a health station was built in S. Marçal with domestic funding by the government, while eight community stations were refurbished in the districts.

As part of the improved operation of the Dr. Ayres de Menezes Hospital, an intensive care area was constructed, the emergency bay was refurbished, small infrastructural improvements were made, and diagnostic equipment purchased.

The purpose of all these efforts was to guarantee greater accessibility and equity in the area of basic health care. Water and Sanitation

Access to safer water and basic sanitation is one of the concerns of the NPRS, considering the importance of these factors to human living conditions and the impact they have on some poverty indicators and the MDGs.

Under the NPRS, the planned objectives for the water sector consist of:

  • a) increasing the population’s access to the public water supply system through private hookups and standpipes.

  • b) improving water quality.

  • c) developing existing urban water carriage systems.

  • d) building capacity to protect water sources and control quality.

To meet these objectives, the PAP provides for the following actions to be taken:

  • preparation of a hydrological and hydrogeological study of existing potential with a view to defining a policy for domestic water consumption and agricultural, industrial and energy production;

  • rehabilitation and expansion of existing supply systems;

  • installation of water treatment systems with a view to combating water-borne diseases;

  • promotion of public awareness and education campaigns on the rational use of water, and the protection and conservation of water sources;

  • improvement of the institutional framework.

The resources released in 2006 funded the prior actions for executing projects with assured financing, such as: rehabilitation of the Amoreira I (ABEDA) aqueduct; the clean water carriage systems I and II (ABEDA); the Canga, Obo Longo, and Pau Sabão water supply systems (Taiwan); building up the laboratory for water analysis (Taiwan); rehabilitating the safe water supply systems in rural areas. In the fight against cholera the government, in partnership with multilateral and bilateral institutions and using the services of NGOs, intervened in a number of communities to collect and channel water, build and renovate water fountains and latrines, with a view to improving public access to water and sanitation in these communities. Homes and places where cholera cases emerged were also disinfected, and awareness and information campaigns were carried out during the period. It should also be noted that the public participated in cleanup and trash removal in the town of Neves and in schools and day care centers, and in collection, construction and renovation processes. Social Protection

With respect the social promotion and protection of the most underprivileged populations, we shall review the actions taken by the Social Action arm of the Ministry of Labor, Social Security, Solidarity, Women, and Family with a view to social protection and social integration.

In that connection, the resources made available in 2006 were used to fund a number of training actions in the Budo-Budo Training School, to pay subsidies, and to settle other pressing problems. It should be noted that 42 persons whose houses had been destroyed by fire were beneficiaries of the subsidy. Support and social outreach was provided in particular to underprivileged mothers thereby allowing them to be included in some social projects whereby their school-age children benefited from purchases of school supplies, such as clothing, backpacks, and binders. This subsidy also provided support for NGOs in the Seeds for the Future program. This program consists of financial support to NGOs engaged in social actions with underprivileged school-age children, namely orphans, the handicapped, etc.

The Directorate intervened in solving other emergency social problems, such as funerals, purchases of medicine, eyeglasses, school supplies, construction materials, sheets of galvanize, and financial support for receiving blood from the Hospital Center.

IV. Analysis of Changes in NPRS Indicators

The analysis is performed on the basis of indicators obtained from administrative sources since the mechanism for producing indicators has not yet been established, although that task has been entrusted to the INE for 2007.

IV.1 Poverty Indicators

The poverty indicators are not available because the household budget survey has not been carried out.

IV.2 Indicators of Access to Basic Social Services

In attempt to improve the quality of teaching and apprenticeship and in order to provide youth and adults with the qualifications both they and their employers need, the government made a number of areas of training available to a variety of target populations with a view to improving their living conditions.

With regard to education, efforts have been made to increase the number of teachers trained, as noted in secondary and primary education. Despite the information received, which shows a slight decline in the level of trained teachers, the government is very concerned with increasing these numbers at both levels of education. It should be noted that 22 secondary school teachers and 66 primary school teachers were trained in 2005-06.

Regarding vocational training, the Budo-Budo Vocational Training Center planned 34 training actions and carried out 27 of them in a variety of areas. Between January and September, 221 students were trained.

Sixteen students were trained at the Polytechnic Center.

All these efforts contribute to an improvement in the indicators, as reflected below.

IV.2.1 Education

Table 6.

Physical Implementation of the Education/Training Program

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Source: PASS Project/Planning and Statistics Department of the Ministry of Education; Budo-Budo Vocational Training Center and Polytechnic Center
Table 7.

Trend in Education Indicators

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Source: PASS/Planning and Statistics Department of the Ministry of Education

1. The number of students increased, except in primary education where there was a slight decline in the numbers with a shift in the 2002-03 school year. The government needs to pay attention to this.

In basic and secondary education, the increase is due to the government’s efforts to improve service provision at these two levels in an attempt to improve the Sãotomean education system by making it possible to extend basic and secondary education coverage to the underprivileged. This action confirms the government’s determination to expand basic education to the sixth grade in an attempt to respond to the past and present challenge.

2. The available data show a favorable change in the net enrollment rate for all levels of education, especially primary education which almost reached the established goal.

3. There was a slight increase in the percentage of girls attending school, both in primary education (48.4%) and in secondary education (51%). The percentage of girls in basic education corresponds to half the students at that level. This increase shows that the government’s efforts have created greater equality of opportunity for access to education and its availability, with a view to eliminating gender disparities.

4. The student teacher ratio in primary education is 32. The year 2005-06 saw no departure from the favorable trend in this indicator since 2003, bringing the country very close to the 2015 target of 30.

In basic education, the student teacher ratio (25) reached the target set for 2015 (25), and in secondary education, the ratio (22) fell just short of that goal of 25. We are happy with this achievement. However, the government will have to continue its efforts to improve teachers’ qualifications and consequently the quality of apprenticeship.

5. With respect to the student-classroom ratio, efforts were made to adhere to a regular timetable and eliminate the three-shift system. As indicated by the amounts reported for 2005-06, there were 65 students per classroom in primary education, 58 in basic education, and 65 in secondary education. We can therefore confirm that the government’s actions have to a large extent helped to meet the objectives and strategies proposed for education in São Toméand Principe and to consolidate efforts to improve access to education and its quality.

6. The student-class ratio, which is an indicator of how many students teachers have under their care, is more encouraging in primary education (39) than at other levels of education—43 for basic education and 51 for secondary education—and closer to the MDG target of 30. It should be noted that even in primary education, as at the other levels, the values that are close to target show a declining trend, reflecting the fact that demand exceeds supply, especially in basic and secondary education. Therefore, there is a need to continue building more classrooms and schools and increasing the numbers of practicing teachers to meet these needs.

This favorable trend in the indicators is a result of the government’s efforts to:

  • improve access to education by building and renovating schools and classrooms, providing support to the underprivileged, school transportation, etc.

  • improve the quality and effectiveness of the teaching and apprenticeship process by formulating and executing and EFA project, training teachers, rehabilitating latrines, and producing school supplies, etc. It should be noted that 22 secondary school teachers were trained and 66 primary school teachers in 2006. Primary school teachers were trained mainly in the districts of Caué and Cantagalo. In Caué, 26 teachers were trained, 22 of them male and four female. In the Cantangalo district, 40 teachers were trained, 24 male and 16 female.

Although there has been improvement, as reflected in the indicators, it is important to stress that there is still a scarcity of classrooms and that the three-shift system continues to be a reality in a number of schools. For this reason, it is necessary to continue to build classrooms, provide the number of textbooks needed for the different levels of education, increase the number of trained teachers and create the conditions for them to work at the level of education for which they were trained, in order to firmly establish the conditions that would strengthen the quality of education. In this way we can lower the number of students who fail and prevent overcrowding in any particular grade.

IV.2.2 Health

Table 8.

Physical Implementation of Health Programs

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Source: Ministry of Health Statistics Department
Table 9:

Trend in health indicators

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Source: Ministry of Health Statistics Department

Goals be reached by 2008 under the Health and Nutrition Program

1. According to the available data, there was no change in the number of inhabitants per physician or inhabitants per nurse in 2006. We think that ways must be found to train more doctors and nurses and to find a better system for assigning them to each area, on the basis of need.

2. The infant mortality rates of live births under one year old (47 per mil) and under five years old (53.8 per mil) declined significantly in 2006 and show a very encouraging trend relative to the MDGs (45 and 73 respectively).

3. Regarding the malaria prevalence rate, we can affirm that of every 1,000 people visiting health centers there was a significant decline in the number suffering from malaria in 2006. We see this as a positive outcome given that the aim is to reduce the number of people with malaria by 90 percent in 2010. This fight against malaria contributed to the reduction in the mortality of infant live births under one year old, the mortality rate of children under five years old, the mortality rate from malaria, and the proportion of malaria deaths in total deaths. This result represents the effort made to combat one of the diseases that has been a health problem for Sãotomeans and therefore an obstacle to the development of the archipelago given its economic and social impact. The government will therefore have to continue its policy of fighting malaria and other diseases in order to permanently eradicate them.

4. The maternal mortality rate also declined and we think it is due to an increase in assisted births and the effort on the part of the government and bilateral development partners to take such actions as vaccinating pregnant women, conducting awareness campaigns, and providing services in the area of reproductive health.

5. There was no change in the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in 2006. Notwithstanding, the government will have to continue its efforts to reverse the current trend given that the prevalence of this epidemic is still higher than the established goal.

This favorable trend in the indicators is a result of the government’s efforts in partnership with NGOs in the following areas:

  • Improved access to basic health care and equity for the entire population through the construction of health stations, intensive care projects, rehabilitation of the emergency bay, small infrastructural improvements, rehabilitation of six community health stations, construction of residences for specialists at the Porto Alegre company, and construction and outfitting of a laboratory for the EFQS.

  • Good-quality health by training 83 nurses. School health experts were trained; specialists were assigned to PNLS, CNES, and PNLCP; an IT network was setup to collect data; IT and educational materials were produced for the health delegations; some studies were revised and a communications strategy for combating HIV/AIDS was prepared; support was provided to the health districts; medicines, laboratory supplies and reagents were provided; health information was disseminated; immunization actions were taken and new vaccines were introduced; diagnostics were improved; malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis were combated.

  • Training and information for the public through awareness campaigns.

Therefore, in order to improve the public’s access to basic health services, or in other words, to reduce the inadequacy of health system services, the government must continue to build health stations, especially in rural and periurban areas and must continue to train health professionals and assign them to locations where there is the greatest need, such as those referred to above.

IV.2.3 Water and Sanitation

The NPRS matrix of indicators defines no annual targets for the nation as a whole, far less at the zonal (urban and rural) levels, either for treated water or for pipe-borne water.

However the information obtained from the sector indicates that close to 80 percent of the population has access to pipe-borne water—approximately 60 percent through EMAE connections and the other 20 percent through public water fountains. This number seems plausible if we take into account the interventions of NGOs in the communities in the fight against cholera, which led to the construction and rehabilitation of water fountains and latrines.

Table 10.

Trend of Water and Sanitation Indicators

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Source: EMAE/Ministry of Health

V. Pillar V. NPRS Implementation, Monitoring and Assessment Mechanism

Concern with monitoring and evaluating the NPRS Priority Action Plan is reflected in the Government’s XI program. The main objective is to monitor implementation of the planned actions and assess their impact on improving the living conditions of the population. In that connection, the implementation, monitoring and assessment mechanism established by Decree 32/2005 underscored the importance of such a system as well as the role of the different agencies in meeting the aforesaid objective. In light of the fact that 2006 was disrupted by various political, economic and social events, the conditions required for implementing the mechanism were also affected. Thus the Poverty Reduction Observatory (PRO), the technical agency responsible for spearheading the implementation of the mechanism, saw little improvement in terms of techniques and stability to coordinate and monitor the sectoral actions planned for the year.

After the inauguration of the XI constitutional government, the process of informing the new members of government of the existence of the mechanism, ongoing activities and those necessary for implementing the mechanism had to be started over.

Under those circumstances, the observatory was asked to participate in drafting the government’s program and in preparing broad options for planning and for the general government budget.

Subsequently, the new focal points were confirmed and named by the new members of government, working sessions were held with them on the role of the sectoral focal points in the monitoring structure, namely the NPRS monitoring and information system. [Translator’s note: The Portuguese is unclear. This is an interpretation]

The Economic and Statistical Observatory for Sub-Saharan Africa (Afristat), the subregional institution for NPRS and MDG monitoring information systems, was contacted to help with the installation of the information system. An initial mission by consultant Ousmane Soule took place in July with the objective of learning the philosophy of the system, taking stock of the situation, and drawing up a work plan for its installation and for drafting the procedures manual. The mission was completed, the work plan prepared and a second mission was scheduled for November 2006. Owing to communication problems, the mission was postponed till the second half of January 2007.

The PRO managers participated in different training and information events at home and abroad on poverty-related issues.

Preparatory work is underway to implement the different arms of the monitoring mechanism (the technical committee and advisory council) so that they can start operating in 2007.

Despite the efforts made to start up the Observatory, this agency has faced some constraints, namely:

Insufficient staff; training needs in project implementation and monitoring by the sectors; nonexistence of data; lack of motivation on the part of the focal points (insufficient salaries and subsidies, lack of equipment); no sectoral coordination and accountability mechanisms.

VI. Conclusions and Recommendations

1. The implementation of the NPRS through the PAP 2006-2008 made some progress if we take into account all the measures and reforms implemented through government incentives. However, the level of execution of planned projects is low both in terms of the PAP and of the PIP, the main reason being the lack of resources despite the efforts made to mobilize funds. With the sectoral round tables (on education, infrastructure, and governance) held in December 2006 and the prospects for debt forgiveness, we anticipate that better results will be obtained in 2007.

2. The functioning of the NPRS implementation, monitoring, and assessment mechanism requires stability, ownership of the mechanism by the various stakeholders, therefore meeting to sensitize the various agencies are needed. It is therefore advisable that any effort by the PRO in the first half of 2007 should be geared towards implementing the mechanism.

3. To ensure that trends in NPRS implementation are monitored (physical and financial developments in projects and programs), using the information produced by the existing structures (DPE, INE, and sectoral ministries) there must be real ownership of the NPRS and absolute consistency between the PIP and the PAP, which could not be established during the period.

4. The weak organization of the sectors and the poor circulation of information within and between sectors makes it hard for the focal points to perform their work and to conduct the monitoring activities that would gather the necessary information at the end of each period to produce a report taking stock of the situation and of the decisions made.

5. Training in monitoring implementation is imperative whether at the sectoral level or at the level of the PRO.


Annex 1: Assessment of implementation of the matrix of measures


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Note: The PASS supports institutional reform of the basic education system in area of education and institutional reform of basic health in the area of health.

PMTF = Protection from mother to child transmission (with reference to AIDS).

PNLCT = National anti-tuberculosis plan.

DOTS = Directly Observed Treatments Short Course in the procedure for treating tuberculosis in which a third party administers drugs to the patient in the second phase of treatment.

IMCI = Integrated Management of Childhood Illness.

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E-mail: orp@cstome.net


Tel. 225707


Annexes 2: Actuals for 2006


Exchange Rate: 1 USD= 12.500 STD

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Annex 3: Pro-Poor Current Expenses - 2006

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Compared with other fuels, at December 2006 the level of oil imports had risen nominally by 73.5 percent of total imports for the same period of 2005.


This budget classifier was created on the basis of Decree 4/2007 and promulgated on January 17, 2007.


A total of 10 cooperative clusters were established, each one representing a fishing community comprising 4 persons each. These 40 people received artisanal fishing boats.


Priority Action Program for Good Governance and Poverty Reduction 2006-2008

São Tomé and Príncipe: Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Progress Report
Author: International Monetary Fund