7208. Agua Grande Coastal Protection - Sao Tome and Principe - D2B16ST01

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO.nl) has requested the NCEA to advise on the ESIA for the Agua Grande coastal protection project in São Tomé & Principe. This project aims to deal with erosion and flooding issues in the Água Grande area on the island of São Tomé. The NCEA has advised on the early stages of the ESIA process, and has reviewed the preliminary ESIA-report. This report describes various options for coastal protection measures, along with rehabilitation measures for the road along the coast. Based on a first assessment of impacts, the government decides on the need for a full ESIA for the project. The RVO will use the NCEA's advice in decision-making on project financing.

Significant details

The Government of São Tomé and Príncipe received a grant (D2B16ST01) from the Government of the Netherlands for the Agua Grande Coastal Protection Project. Part of the grant is used to contract a consulting company (or a consortium of consulting companies) to undertake preparatory studies to develop the project. The Ministry of Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment (MIRNA) is the Executing Agency for this project.

In September 2016 the NCEA, upon request of RVO, provided observations and comments on the quality of the draft Terms of Reference for the preparation of an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report complying with the EIA Regulations of São Tomé & Principe and the Sustainability Framework of the IFC.

In October 2018, the NCEA was requested to review the quality of the preliminary ESIA, as part of the preparatory phase of the Agua Grande Project. The Água Grande District, located in the northwestern part of the island of São Tomé, is vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Sea level rise leads to continuous erosion and flooding in this area, which is relatively densely populated and intensively used. The coast is lined by the road between the international airport and the town of São Tomé. The Água Grande Coastal Protection Project intends to deal with these issues, by constructing coastal protection measures and rehabilitation measures for the road. In the preliminary ESIA various options have been considered for coastal protection and road rehabilitation. These have been evaluated, based on a first assessment of potential impacts. The aim of the preliminary ESIA is to determine whether a 'full-fledged' ESIA should be carried out for (components of) the project.

The NCEA concluded that the preliminary ESIA provides a general overview of the safety problems, the proposed technical solutions, the social and environmental impacts and possible mitigation measures. The report concludes that the proposed interventions (the coastal protection works and road rehabilitation) themselves do not require further environmental assessment. According to the NCEA this conclusion cannot be justified sufficiently, because the report lacks information which can be crucial for decision-making. Because of these shortcomings, the NCEA recommends to provide additional information on at least the following issues:

  • For implementing the coastal protection and rehabilitation measures a substantial amount of materials is needed, especially rock and sand. The rock will have to be collected from existing or new quarries, sand will have to be dredged from (scarcely available) sand-dredging sites. According to the NCEA the following additional information should be collected prior to decision-making:
    • the environmental and social impacts of expanding quarries, opening new quarries, sand dredging, transport and (temporary) storage of materials;
    • mitigation measures that will be needed and costs for alternative options (expanding quarries versus new quarries, availability of sand);
    • options and measures to avoid, minimize and clean up pollution and improve resource conservation and energy-efficiency.
  • The report describes two alternatives for the combination of coastal protection and rehabilitation of the road. Alternative A focusses on robust coastal protection and improvement of the marginal road itself, alternative B focusses on opening up the chance to limit motorized traffic and transform the marginal road into a touristically attractive seafront route, with the prospect of developing a road bypass between the airport and the town. To be able to make an informed choice between the two alternatives, it is important to know what the (long-term) vision on tourism and recreation for this area is, including the opinions of relevant public, private and civil stakeholders. 
  • The report addresses possible environmental and social impacts, but on a very general level and mostly limited to the project area itself. According to the NCEA the ESIA should contain information on the direct and indirect impacts on flora and fauna in a larger area, both marine (coral reefs, benthos, fish etcetera) and terrestrial. 
  • A comprehensive list of mitigation measures is described, but the priority/importance and feasibility of these measures remain unclear. According to the NCEA, an Environmental Management and Monitoring Plan (including responsibilities, timing and estimation of costs) should be part of the ESIA.
The NCEA has recommended to provide the information mentioned above before decision-making on the project, as an addition to the pre-ESIA or, preferably, as a full ESIA. The NCEA's advisory document was included in the tender package for further project development.

Since then, the NCEA has provided further advice on Terms of Reference for additional studies planned to supplement the earlier ESIA work.

Parties involved

Members of the working group

Trudi van Ingen
Hans Ronald Jan van Maanen

Technical secretary: Pieter Jongejans

Further details

Country: Sao Tome and Principe

Last modified: 19 Dec 2023