With just 1.7 million people, Gabon is a sparsely populated, highly-urbanised country located between Cameroon and Congo on the Gulf of Guinea.
Political instability has followed disputed elections in August 2016.
The economy depends heavily upon exports of oil and manganese. The country’s 267,667 square kilometres are largely forested. In 2013, only 13 per cent of Gabonese lived in rural areas.
Forestry and farming are relatively under-developed, contributing just five per cent of GDP, yet agriculture employs about 40 per cent of the rural population.
Farming is dominated by an estimated 70,000 small family subsistence farms. Run mainly by older people, they were estimated to average just 0.20 hectares in 2012.
Farm output is insufficient to meet domestic demand, and an estimated 60 per cent of food, especially cereals and meat, are imported.
According to one estimate, 30 per cent of Gabonese live in poverty.
Surveys in 2013 to help design a human development strategy classified around 95,000 households as economically weak. The rate of poverty rate in rural areas, at 45 per cent, was more than twice the 20 per cent recorded in urban areas.
The plight of rural poor people is made worse by limited access to basic social and public services, including health care, clean water and electricity.
In Gabon, IFAD loans support the implementation of policies and strategies that help poor farmers and rural people improve their livelihoods and food security.
Our priority is the development of rural institutions and economies, and we target help to smallholder producers and those most vulnerable to poverty, especially women.
We contribute to curing poverty by helping design appropriate policies and projects, and by sharing knowledge. We aim to mobilize resources from other partners too, including local communities, national Government, the private sector, banks and other donors, and to achieve the most appropriate public policies.
Our priority activities include:
- developing value chains for bananas, cassava and peanuts which all have significant market potential, thereby benefiting poor rural people;
- strengthening the capacity of smallholders and smallholder organizations involved in these value chains; and
- reinforcing the capacity of those providing services to rural communities.
Agriculture employs about 40 per cent of Gabon’s rural population, but contributes just 5 per cent of GDP. Only 0.7 per cent of the government budget is invested in agricultural development.
Gabon is exceptionally urbanised. By 2013 only 13 per cent of Gabonese lived in rural areas, down from 20 per cent in 2000.
Around 30 per cent of Gabonese are estimated to live in poverty.
Since 1993, IFAD has supported 2 programmes in Gabon totalling US$20.4 million, benefiting 8,600 rural households.