Current issues and what the World Food Programme is doing
With its nearly 197,000 km square, Senegal, in westernmost mainland Africa, is both a coastal and a desert country. The urban 43 percent of its 14.67 million people have far better access to resources than their rural compatriots. In Dakar, the capital, a quarter of the residents are poor; in the countryside, the figure is two-thirds.
Overall, while stable and democratic, Senegal remains one of the world’s least developed countries: it ranks 170th out of 188 on the Human Development Index. A low-level, decades-old conflict in the region of Casamance has left a legacy of displacement; although quelled by a ceasefire in 2014, it is still linked to acts of violence and banditry.
An industrial base exists in Senegal, but cash crops and fishing – both vulnerable to climate change – remain major contributors to the economy.
Current issues in Senegal
Senegal suffers from persistently high poverty, with 46.7 percent of the population affected. Overall, food insecurity exceeds 50 percent. In some (mostly rural) parts of the country, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition is above the critical threshold.
In both 2014 and 2015, harvest deficits caused by recurrent droughts and floods triggered an early onset of the “lean season”. Food security in northern and central Senegal was severely weakened, with negative repercussions for the nutritional status of children.
The Government has been rolling out a National Family Social Security Transfer Programme for Family Security Credit (PNBSF) to tackle chronic poverty and make the poorest citizens more resilient to shocks. This programme, however, only targets a quarter of a million people. Many Senegalese resort to internal or international migration for financial survival.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Senegal
- WFP is assisting the Government in reducing malnutrition among women and children. Our programmes target the window of opportunity of a child’s first 1,000 days. We aim to support around 150,000 vulnerable people, including children under five, and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
- WFP’s school meals programme in Senegal acts as a social safety net for children and their families, particularly in highly food-insecure and impoverished areas. We aim to feed some 500,000 children with hot and nutritious meals (lunch daily; breakfast twice a week) during the school year.
- As part of its long-term strategy, WFP is rehabilitating Senegal’s environmental and productive infrastructures. Under the Purchase from Africans for Africa programme, we have expanded local procurement to stimulate agricultural output, boost the incomes of small farmers and supply school canteens.
- WFP works to strengthen Senegal’s nutritional early warning system, and runs multi-year climate resilience projects under the African Union’s weather insurance scheme, the African Risk Capacity. In 2012, WFP teamed up with Oxfam America to launch the Rural Resilience Initiative known as R4: this targets risk reduction (through asset creation), risk transfer (through insurance), prudent risk taking (through livelihoods diversification and microcredit) and risk reserves (through savings). R4 is currently implemented in three regions; in 2015, it had more than 100,000 beneficiaries.
- The Senegalese Government is committed to gender equality and has a legal framework to protect women’s rights. WFP supports this by providing inclusive gender sensitization at community level. The aim is to promote behavioural change and empower women in household decisions relative to food and cash.
- WFP continues to facilitate the return of displaced people to post-conflict Casamance. In 2015 WFP, some 3,000 returnees benefitted from our resettlement packages.
- Alongside sister UN agencies, WFP is committed to assisting the Government of Senegal in reinforcing and extension social protection to vulnerable groups, using new instruments such as Cash-Based Transfers (CBT).
World Food Programme partners in Senegal
WFP cannot fight global hunger and poverty alone. These are our partners in Senegal:
Featured Senegal publications
A Country Brief provides the latest snapshot of the country strategy, operations, operational highlights (achievements and issues/challenges), partnerships and country background.
Looking for more publications on Senegal? Visit the Senegal publications archive.