Location: West Africa
Area: 4 033 km²
Population: 0.511 million people
Capital: Praia (95,000 people)
Main towns: Praia, Mindelo, Assomada
Official language: Portuguese
Currency: Cape Verde escudo - 1 EUR = 110 ESC
GDP/member of the population: $1, 938
Life expectancy: 41.6 years (PNUD 2006)
Literacy rate: 78%
Human development index: 106th out of 177
Because of its isolation, the low proportion of land that can be cultivated (10% of land is exploited), because of the lack of water (the climate is like that of the Sahara with low and irregular rainfall), Cape Verde is vulnerable and has always experienced a very high level of emigration. There are more Cape Verde people outside the country than within the country and these emigrants, by sending money, contribute to one third of the Gross Domestic Product, while another third is made up of overseas aid.
This vulnerable situation, despite certain indicators, keeps a great number of people in poverty (30% of the population according to PNUD) and the country is still considered as being one of the less developed countries (PMA). There is a chronic shortage of food in the country and the PNUD estimates that only 10% to 15% of the needs are being met through agricultural production. The fight against poverty, especially in rural areas, is one of the Government’s priorities.
These days it is not so easy to emigrate and, although there are sectors that can possibly be developed economically, such as tourism, fishing and the service industry, most of the small farmers will have to try to survive by farming for several years from now. Farming has to undergo urgent improvements in order for there to be anincrease in productivity and so allow natural resources to be conserved within a very fragile ecosystem. These are the basic reasons underlying the ESSOR project in Cape Verde.
This project is located in Santo Antão, an island covering an area of 779 km² and with a population of 47,000 people, with 26% of these people suffering food insecurity. The island can experience contrasting extremes of climate from one hillside to the other. The island is divided into 3 “municipes” with the “municipe” of Porto Novo being the centre for the project. The "municipe" of Porto Novo covers 2/3 of the island and has 36% of its population, that is to say 17,000 people.