IFAD has funded 10 projects and programmes in The Gambia between
1982 to 2012, financing a total of US$73 million (jointly
funded US$196.7 million), and directly benefiting over 149,000
rural households. The bulk of beneficiaries being women.
Five of the projects were commenced by IFAD, two by the International
Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank Group and
two by the African Development Bank. Seven of the programmes
have been jointly financed by the AFDB and the World Bank.
Through new loans and grants, the organisation helps strengthen
effective, mutually beneficial activities such as lowlands
rice development, community-initiated self-help, horticulture,
animal husbandry, rural financing schemes etc.
Because The Gambia is categorised as one of the world's Heavily
Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) it is eligible for grant financing
under IFAD's Debt Sustainability Framework (DSF). The framework
is a component of a concerted attempt by the world's largest
multilateral financial institutions to make sure that necessary
financial aid does not cause unnecessary privation for the
countries that are most in need of assistance.
involvement in The Gambia centres around rural development
and agriculture, while facilitating and encouraging pathways
to microfinance. All the projects have aimed at the general
objective of reducing rural poverty by enhancing household
income and food sufficiency, particularly of smallholding
farms, youth and women, in line with the national government's
Through the development of farming in the fertile soil of
the lowlands and neighbouring uplands, IFAD's projects in
The Gambia tackles poverty that is connected to water and
land as productive resources. Through diversification of rural
income, it aims to alleviate poverty that is connected to
One of IFAD's other priorities is to include women in training
and decision-making in all its projects in the country. These
schemes target women directly, for example, in lowland rural
development to increase agricultural production, in access
to financial services, in garden vegetable production and
small livestock rearing such as sheep and goats. IFAD also
focuses on young men and women for off- and on-farm job prospects,
bearing in mind the country's steep rates of unemployment
and labour under-utilisation and its growing rate of rural-urban
From the middle of the 1980s, IFAD has been heavily engaged
in supporting rural microfinance projects in The Gambia as
a consequence of its promotion of agricultural development.
The growth of the village-based Savings
and Credit Association structure, abbreviated as VISACA,
has resulted in a more professional microfinance sector. This
is the result of the creation of a robust nationwide institution
that coordinates VISACA services, as well as the establishment
of a microfinance unit within the Central Bank and the creation
of a centre to enhance capacity for all microfinance related
IFAD has also pushed for the approval and execution of a national
microfinance strategic policy, and is emphasising the need
for more professionalisation of the microfinance sector through
an overseas technical assistance program.
Simultaneously, IFAD interventions tries to empower community
and farmers' based organisations, thereby enabling deprived
rural people to get out of poverty. IFAD partners with local
Kafos, for example, to steadily address the social and economic
exclusion of susceptible people in rural communities. These
jointly run village groups are an effective avenue for intervention,
since they are organised and able to bring together target
groups of people within local communities.
As laid down in the Country Strategic Opportunities Paper
(COSOP) for The Gambia, IFAD's work here, in recent years,
has become more demand-led, with an emphasis on enhancing
poor rural people's capacities and their engagement in the
planning and carrying out of development initiatives. IFAD
supported projects in The Gambia focus on novel trial operations
with a scope for scaling up into sustainable, efficient and
effective activities. After being trialled and modified, these
activities have become successful models for implementation
in current activities by IFAD and its partners to benefit
the poor rural populace in The Gambia, in particular young
people and women.
The focus on building upon effective programs is especially
apparent in the example of the now completed Rural Finance
and Community Initiatives Project (RFCIP), which has been
expanded into two schemes: the Livestock and Horticulture
Development Project (LHDP) and the Rural Finance Project (RFP).
Also, the established Lowlands Agricultural Development Programme
(LADEP) has been expanded in the shape of the Participatory
Integrated-Watershed Management Project (PIWAMP), which has
reclaimed considerable cultivable land areas through soil
preservation measures in the uplands and water management
structures in the lowlands.
By supporting projects in The Gambia, IFAD gives leadership,
draws in co-financing and creates strategic partnerships with
civil society and the private sector to benefit the rural
poor at the local grass roots level.