SEATTLE — The Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe is an archipelago located close to the equator and off the coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea. More than five times the size of Washington, D.C., Sao Tome and Principe consists of two islands of volcanic origin along with several rocky islets.
Though the island nation has more than 50 watercourses, water pollution remains a significant problem. A lack of adequate water treatment systems means that the water quality in Sao Tome and Principe is questionable.
Certain regions far away from the watercourses are subject to water shortages. This is especially true for the rural areas in the country, which use water directly from the river. It has been estimated that only 4 percent of the total existing water volume has been used, despite the fact that about 97 percent have access to water, according to a QUIBB 2005 survey.
Deficient water quality in Sao Tome and Principe has been caused by “inadequate and degraded systems, vandalism and lack of awareness, lack of government support and insufficient investment, and deficient management of water resources.”
Rainwater damage and waste accumulation contribute to the spread of parasitic and infectious diseases in the urban areas. About 75 percent of the population does not have a proper excrement removal system.
Principal reasons for a lack of basic sanitation have been identified as limited community awareness absence and insufficient sanitation infrastructure and funding, “limited availability of water, houses with structures making it impossible to install latrines, and lack of maintenance,” according to the International Monetary Fund.
Sao Tome and Principe is not without its dense natural water resources. The mountainous areas in the island have been chiseled by stream erosion, with rocky streams rushing down the coasts.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Climate Change Adaptation program has noted that the island nation is particularly vulnerable to periods of flash floods, storms and droughts. This threatens the agricultural and fisheries sectors, upon which thousands of people rely for subsistence.
Sao Tome and Principe has also been identified as a Least Developed Country as well as a Small Island Developing State. The UNDP target is to “enhance capacities of rural communities to pursue climate resilient livelihood” in the country.
An Overall Water Resource Development Plan for Sao Tome and Principe aims to provide safer and a more reliable water supply system in the country while also establishing irrigation systems and hydropower plants. This way, every household will have access to safe drinking water and water quality in Sao Tome and Principe will improve.
Furthermore, Sao Tome and Principe is also partaking in a Second National Communication, which is currently in progress. This National Communication can help propel the country towards designing mitigation and adaptation measures (through education, preparation, awareness-raising, etc.) and using the already-available technical, scientific studies. It will also help both the rural and urban communities to become more resilient and insulate themselves from the adverse, immediate effects of climate change.
– Mohammed Khalid