Although it is one of the region’s more stable countries, Senegal remains a low-income, food-deficit nation with an estimated population of 12.9 million. In the 2010 UNDP Human Development Index, Senegal ranks 144th out of 169 countries.
According to the results of the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis (CFSVA) undertaken in 2010, food insecurity is still high in many regions of the country, especially in the Ziguinchor area, where the ongoing conflict prevents people from engaging in proper agriculture practices and from investing in trade.
The results of the CFSVA also confirm a worsening of the nutritional situation, in particular in two regions of the country where the global acute malnutrition is extremely high (22% in Matam and 14% in Tambacounda). Two other regions have high levels of stunting, or low height-for-age (32.2% in Kédougou and 31.6% in Kolda).This has added to a global food security situation that remains disturbing in the southern part of the country as well as in some urban and peri-urban areas.
While Senegal is the largest salt producer in West Africa and a major peanut and vegetable oil producer, it faces a structural food deficit and high poverty rates.
The prevalence of iron deficiency, at levels over 70 percent in women and children under 5 years, is of serious concern. Only 52.7 percent of rural households have access to iodized salt (CSFVA 2010), which is essential for the prevention of Iodine Deficiency Disorders. Through its Salt Iodization project, WFP promotes the local purchase of salt from associations of women producers for use in WFP’s programmes in Senegal.
The majority of the rural population is heavily dependent on rain-fed subsistence agriculture, which, given constraints such as weather variation, natural disasters and environmental degradation, fails to ensure food security in several regions.
More than half of the country's food requirements are imported annually, including 800,000 mt of rice and 300,000 mt of wheat. High food prices in recent years have exacerbated problems of access to food and have disrupted coping mechanisms. In addition to these challenges, the protracted post-conflict situation in the Casamance region places a heavy burden on displaced and returnee households. Such households are also affected by a lack of steady employment, which increases overall poverty and hinders access to food.
Poverty levels are particularly acute in rural areas, where access to basic social services, such as health and education, is inadequate.