- The government of São Tomé and Príncipe has achieved World Bank financing for its programme to strengthen the nation's social sectors. Authorities in particular aim at improving basic health and education services before the coming oil production will pose new challenges.
The World Bank Board today approved a credit of US$ 5 million and grant of US$ 1.5 million for a social sector support project in São Tomé and Príncipe, which the government had applied for.
According to the World Bank's Safaa El Tayeb El-Kogali, the São Toméan social services project is to "improve the delivery of basic health and education services through increased collaboration between the public sector, civil society and communities."
This would further be achieved by "the strengthening of institutional capacity to operate light decentralised systems with improved strategic planning, management and monitoring as well as equitable access to and better quality of these services," according to Mr El-Kogali, who also is the project's team leader.
The social sector support project had been developed in close collaboration with partners and key stakeholders in the country, the World Bank said in a statement released today. It focuses on reforming the education system to offer six years of quality basic education and on strengthening health services at the district level.
The project further is to support the São Toméan government's strategic plans to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS and combat malaria in a country where over 80 percent of the 140,000 inhabitants are affected by malaria, also cited as the number one cause of death.
- The project design and implementation arrangements are based on the premise that collaboration between the state and civil society is critical to improving the effectiveness, efficiency, and relevance of social services and to ensure ownership and sustainability, Mr El-Kogali pointed out, adding that following an annual work program approach also offers flexibility to adapt to changes in the economic and social environment.
The grant part of the project is to finance all the HIV/AIDS and malaria activities in addition to the community-driven initiatives implemented by civil society organisations and community groups in improving the health and education of communities.
Public sector executed activities in the area of basic education and health service delivery are to be financed by the credit, the World Bank press release points out.
The recent discovery of large oil reserves on the archipelago of São Tomé and Príncipe has prompted initiatives from the Bank, "seeking to encourage the government to ensure that revenue from this resource will be used to advance development, reduce extreme poverty and improve the welfare of the population," the statement said.
The social services project was conceived to strengthen the education and health systems and their institutions and mechanisms for accountability "in recognition of the fact that it is critical for São Tomé and Príncipe to be more successful - unlike other oil-rich African countries - to channel oil revenues into building a solid human and economic foundation for sustained growth and development," the Bank said.
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