Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe: Floods and landslides - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA), DREF Operation n° MDRST001


A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Rainfall in 2021 in Sao Tome and Principe peaked between 27 and 28 December 2021, causing the water levels of the country’s rivers to rise. In less than 24 hours, the rain that fell on the archipelago caused chaos in the capital city and in several other parts of the country, especially areas through which streams run and next to rivers. According to the country's Meteorological Institute, the country had not seen such heavy rainfall in over 30 years. The storm that hit the archipelago, especially the Sao Tome Island, on 28 December 2021, left two people dead and at least six people missing notably in S. Jean Vargem and the Ponte Samu community.

On 30 December 2021, the government of Sao Tome declared a state of disaster due to the damage caused and appealed for international aid during a meeting attended by international actors in the country and embassies.

The material damage is innumerable, and an ongoing assessment conducted together with the government's mission will make it possible to know the extent of the damage. However, although almost the entire country has been affected by the floods, the country's north and the capital city are the most affected. Due to limited road access caused by landslides and damages to the roads, CONPREC has recorded the following damage:

  • In the central part of the capital city, waterspouts following the rainfall swept along tree trunks and a huge amount of waste. When it hit the bridge near EMAE (National Water and Electricity Company), the refuse transformed into an obstructive heap and blocked the course of River Agua Grande. This caused the river to overflow its banks, rapidly flooding the town. Many public and private institutions, shopping centres and restaurants were flooded. The suddenness of the flooding caused all parking lots in the capital city to be flooded, with cars completely submerged and the entire centre of the capital city impassable.

  • In urban areas, where most people live, the flooding is due to the rise in the water level of the lakes and rivers crossing the country. According to the CONPREC report, the bed of Lake Lugi, the mouth of River Douro and River Lemba overflew their banks. This part of the territory is morphologically very hilly and has very steep slopes. This landscape increases the speed of the water and has caused erosion and landslides in all surroundings localities. The lack of land levelling and embankments greatly widened the extent of the damage.

  • Landslides, rockfalls, torrents and waterspouts and mud flows occurred around bridges and rivers. A slip of land supporting the road to Fernão Dias broke off completely.

  • Bridges in Sao Tome were destroyed, among which the Lemba, Bingoma, Birgoma and Samû bridges.

  • The waters or mudslides swept away the livestock and crops of households.

In addition, these weather and climate phenomena are accompanied by a disruption of the economic fabric of the country as they heavily affect crops, supply roads, economic infrastructure such as nearby markets and fishing.

Current responses in the country are focused on the capital city and the areas most in need are found in the Lemba and Me-Zochi districts, with about 9,000 people affected out of 15,000 according to the population data.