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.