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What are the current issues in Senegal

Although it is one of the region’s more stable countries, Senegal remains a low-income, food-deficit nation with an estimated population of 13.7million. Senegal is ranked 154 out of 186 on the 2013 Human Development Index.

Senegal is a least developed country with a population of about 13.7 million, 47.6 percent of whom are estimated to live in poverty (World Bank 2013). In addition to coping with persistent poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition, the country lies largely within the Sahel region and is chronically vulnerable to natural disasters.

Its agricultural sector has declined over time; Senegal faces a structural food deficit for main staples, importing about 46 percent of its food requirements, and is vulnerable to food price spikes.

The conflict in the southern part of the country (Casamance Naturelle) has been ongoing since 1982. Although the conflict is now sporadic, acts of violence and banditry persist, impeding livelihoods, employment, trade and transport.

Senegal is ranked 154 out of 186 on the 2013 Human Development Index. Nearly half the population has trouble meeting its basic needs in terms of food, health, education and housing, with poverty more persistent in rural Senegal. The average monthly revenue of food-insecure households is half that of their food secure counterparts (Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment 2010).

In the past few years, droughts and floods, aggravated by the effects of climate change, food price fluctuations and other economic shocks in the global markets, have impeded gains in agricultural production and led to recurrent food crises, most recently in 2007-2008 and 2012.

Despite a generally improved 2012-2013 harvest, localized flooding, agricultural pest infestations and irregular rainfall yet again diminished yields, constraining the food security the rural poor households

Results of the 2013 national food security and nutrition survey conducted by the government, WFP and other UN partners confirmed that recurrent crises have taken their toll on food security in Senegal since WFP conducted the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Assessment in 2010. On the national level 18.8 percent of households, corresponding to some 245,000 households or 2.2 million people, are food insecure.

The situation is especially accentuated in rural areas, where 25.1 percent of households are food insecure versus 15.1 percent reported in 2010. Food insecurity dramatically worsened in the conflict-affected Casamance (Kolda, Sedhiou and Ziguinchor regions), as well as in the Kedougou and Matam regions.

The nutritional situation of children under five in many parts of the country remains preoccupying. With the national prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) at 9.1 percent, the critical threshold of 15 percent was surpassed in four departments (Matam, Kanel, Ranerou, and Podor) and the “serious” threshold of 10 percent exceeded in 12 departments. The national prevalence of chronic malnutrition was reported at 16.5 percent.

What the World Food Programme is doing in Senegal

Through a country programme and a protracted relief and recovery operation (PRRO), WFP aims to provide food and nutrition assistance to over 1 million people in Senegal in 2013. WFP’s interventions support the government's efforts to achieve objectives set out in the National Strategy for Economic and Social Development 2013-2017.

WFP works in collaboration with the Government of Senegal, United Nations and NGO partners and the Red Cross to promote food and nutrition security in all 14 regions of Senegal. The country programme addresses longer-term development objectives in nine regions, namely Diourbel, Fatick, Kaffrine, Kaolack, Kedougou, Louga, Matam, Tambacounda and Thies.

Initially limited to the conflict-affected Casamance (Kolda, Sedhiou and Ziguinchor), the PRRO was expanded to include all regions to enable WFP to scale up interventions in response to the 2012 Sahel food and nutrition crisis in Senegal. The government tasked WFP with the operational lead in the response to the 2012 food crisis. Most relief activities, such as targeted food and cash voucher distributions and the creation and restocking of village cereal banks, were implemented from April to October 2012, at the peak of the longer-than-usual lean season.

Recovery activities, including Food for Assets interventions, the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition among children under five and pregnant and lactating women and school feeding continued. Overall, WFP assisted 1.8 million vulnerable men, women and children in 2012 with 38,000 MT of food assistance and US$4 million worth of cash vouchers.

In 2013, short-term humanitarian activities and support to Government-led safety nets and longer-term resilience building continue to underpin WFP’s response in Senegal. WFP has expanded local procurement of cereals and pulses as a way to stimulate local agricultural production, increase incomes of small producers and supply school canteens (Purchase from Africans for Africa). WFP also pilots the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative, which mobilizes rural communities around building agricultural assets through insurance, credits and savings, and works to strengthen the national early warning system, which focuses on food security and nutrition monitoring and the African Risk Capacity project’s weather insurance scheme.

Featured Senegal publications

  • Senegal: WFP Country Brief (PDF, 507 KB)

    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.