The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Gabon:
Although Gabon’s per capita income is quadruple that of most African countries, a strong inequality of income means more than 500,000 of the 1.7 million people living in Gabon are below the poverty line. While continental rates of poverty are improving, Gabon is not benefiting. The Lived Poverty Index, which measures how often poor people are forced to go without basic needs such as clean water, healthcare and food puts Gabon at a rate of 1.87 in 2016, compared to Africa’s average of 1.15. Nearly 5% of the population lives below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day. Because Gabon’s population numbers 1.5 million, that equates to roughly 72,000 people who must survive on less than a dollar and a half every day.
- Water Quality
Gabon has one of the highest levels of water availability in the world, at 127,825 cubic meters per capita, per year. 87% of Gabon’s 1.8 million people live in urban areas, such as Libreville and Port-Gentil. As the urban population increases, so does the demand for a fixed water supply. Despite its status as an upper middle-income country, 34 percent of the population lives in poverty. Rural, poverty stricken areas suffer deprivation from drinking water resources in Gabon, and 58 percent of the population does not have access to improved sanitation facilities. In 2015, sanitation rates in urban and rural areas were 43 and 32 percent, respectively.
Gabon is an upper-middle-income country. The fifth largest oil producer in Africa, it has had strong economic growth over the past decade, driven by its production of oil and manganese. The oil sector has accounted for 80% of exports, 45% of GDP, and 60% of fiscal revenue on average over the past five years. However, as the country is facing a decline in its oil reserves. Despite the government’s attempts to rein in expenditure and offset the decline in oil revenue, Gabon’s economy stalled in 2017 and was projected to grow by 0.8% in 2018 compared to 0.5% in 2017.
- Malnutrition burden
Gabon still experiences a malnutrition burden among its under-five population. As of 2012, the national prevalence of under-five overweight is 7.7%, which has increased slightly from 5.5% in 2000. The national prevalence of under-five stunting is 17%, which is less than the developing country average of 25%. Gabon’s under-five wasting prevalence of 3.4% is also less than the developing country average of 8.9%. In Gabon, 5.1% of infants under 6 months are exclusively breastfed- this is well below the Middle Africa average of 37.4%. Gabon’s 2015 low birth weight prevalence of 14.2% has decreased slightly from 15.3% in 2000.
Gabon’s adult population also faces a malnutrition burden. 59.1% of women of reproductive age have anaemia, and 10% of adult men have diabetes, as do 10% of women. Meanwhile, 20.3% of women and 9.6% of men are obese.
UNAIDS reports that 44,000 Gabonese adults (ages 15 and older) are infected with HIV. 30,000 women (ages 15 and older) are among that demographic. There are 2,600 Gabonese children (ages 0 to 14) living with HIV and 16,000 Gabonese orphans due to parents who died from AIDS. Tuberculosis is an increasing epidemic in Gabon. In 2013, a research study observed 64 tuberculosis-infected children in a Lambaréné, Gabon hospital.