Although stable and democratic, Senegal is one of the world’s least developed countries. The economy relies heavily on cash crops and fishing, both of which are vulnerable to climate change. Decades-old conflict in the Casamance region continues to be linked to violence and banditry. Harvest deficits in 2014 and 2015, triggered by recurring droughts and floods, resulted in the early onset of the lean season (when food is scarcer), severely weakening food security in northern and central Senegal.
Those living in urban areas have far better access to resources than those in rural areas; a quarter of people living in the capital, Dakar, are poor, compared with two-thirds of those living in the countryside. Senegal suffers from persistently high poverty rates, sitting at 46.7 percent. Overall, 17 percent of people are food insecure, and in some – mostly rural – parts of the country, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition is critical.
The Government runs an initiative called the National Family Social Security Transfer Programme for Family Security Credit, which is aimed at tackling chronic poverty and making the poorest citizens more resilient to crises. However, it only targets a quarter of a million people, and many Senegalese resort to internal or international migration for financial survival.
What the World Food Programme is doing in Senegal
WFP works with the Government to reduce malnutrition among women and children. Poor nutrition in a child’s early years is linked to problems with physical and cognitive development. We therefore provide nutrition support to around 150,000 vulnerable people, including children under five, pregnant women and nursing mothers.
We provide around 500,000 school children with hot, nutritious meals each day. Children receive lunch every day and breakfast twice a week during the school year. This provides a vital safety net for food-insecure families living in poverty, and it encourages them to send their children to school.
Supporting smallholder farmers
Working towards a more food secure future for Senegal, WFP is helping to rehabilitate the country’s environmental and productive infrastructures. Under the Purchase from Africans for Africa programme, we have also expanded the amount of produce we source locally for school canteens, stimulating agricultural production and boosting the incomes of smallholder farmers.
Disaster risk reduction
WFP works to reduce the risk of climate-related disasters which have an adverse impact on food security, running multi-year projects under the African Union’s weather insurance scheme, the African Risk Capacity. WFP also works with Oxfam America on the Rural Resilience Initiative, which reaches over 100,000 people and is designed to strengthen communities by encouraging asset creation, insurance, livelihood diversification, microcredit and savings.
Promoting gender equality
WFP supports the Senegalese Government’s commitment to gender equality, providing inclusive gender sensitization within communities. This is designed to encourage behavioural change and empower women to make household decisions about food and cash.
Supporting other vulnerable groups
WFP continues to help those displaced by conflict to return to their homes in the Casamance region. In 2015, around 3,000 returnees benefitted from WFP resettlement packages. We also work with sister UN agencies to help the Government provide social protection to vulnerable communities, using methods such as cash distributions.