Omar Bongo and Gnassingbe Eyadema were both born in 1935. They came to power 32 years later in Gabon and Togo respectively; Bongo through constitutional succession, Eyadema by grabbing power in a coup d'etat. Eyadema died in office on 5 February and a few hours later his favoured son, Faure Gnassingbe, seized power with the backing of the army in defiance of the constitution. What would happen in Gabon if Bongo, now 69 and apparently in good health, were suddenly to depart from the scene?

For years young boys and girls have been trafficked into Gabon from all over West Africa for use as child labour in this relatively affluent oil-producing country. But finally, there are signs that the government is starting to crack down on the practice. Gabon passed a law against trafficking and child exploitation in 2002, but the first police roundup of child traffickers and their victims only took place on the 24 January - nearly three years later.

The typhoid outbreak in Gabon has spread to the capital Libreville, which has been grappling with water shortages for the past two weeks, Health Ministry officials said on Tuesday. The outbreak of this highly infectious water-borne disease began in the northern town of Oyem in December, but officials said there were now more than 100 cases nationwide, including 12 in Libreville.

Water supply problems in the Gabonese capital Libreville are going from bad to worse with residents used to drawing water from taps in their own homes forced to queue up with buckets at standpipes in the street. The privatisation of the state water and electricity company SEEG in 1997 and a doubling of capital investment last year by its new French owner Vivendi, has failed to ensure that supply keeps pace with a rapid growth in demand.

For those who are looking for an easy life in Gabon, small-scale fishing holds little appeal. As a young fisherman, Mathieu Koffi, told IPS, it is "difficult to get credit to buy new equipment, and it's not easy for fishermen to band together in order to limit expenses." The difficulties of working with outdated equipment combined with a depletion of fish stocks in certain areas have posed challenges to the small-scale fishing industry in recent years.