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International Fund For Agricultural Development

Contact Address:


IFAD Gambia, Banjul Head Office
Kofi Annan Street
Cape Point, Bakau
The Gambia, West Africa

Tel no: 4497805 / 4497897
Fax:     4497896 / 4497896


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.

IFAD's 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 priorities.

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 faltering markets.

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 drift.

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 institutions.

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 donors, NGOs, the government, civil society and the private sector to benefit the rural poor at the local grass roots level.

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