The West African nation of Senegal is one of the most stable democracies in Africa. After gaining independence from France in 1960, Senegal has been very successful at exercising political participation and peaceful leadership.
Despite this, almost half of the population of Senegal lives on less than 80 pence a day. Almost half of the population of Senegal is illiterate, and 22% of all children (ages 5-14) are working, and not in school. Senegal’s economy is mainly based on agriculture, with 78 percent of its 13 million people employed in the sector, however the harvest is threatened yearly by drought and other affects of climate change.
Senegal was the first country of intervention for The Hunger Project in Africa; we have been working there since 1991. Through our integrated approach to rural development (the Epicentre Strategy), we are enabling people to successfully access the basic services needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and lead lives of self-reliance.
The Hunger Project Senegal is now empowering 232,017 partners in 10 epicentre communities that include 232 villages. An epicentre is a dynamic center of community mobilization and action, as well as an actual facility built by community members. Over an eight-year period, an epicentre addresses hunger and poverty and moves along a path toward sustainable self-reliance, at which point it is able to fund its own activities and no longer requires financial investment from The Hunger Project. Senegal has 10 epicentres that cumulatively serve an area of population 178,904 and 211 villages.
Increasing Food Security
As part of the Epicentre Strategy, we continue to empower and support farmers with training and materials to increase and diversify food production. In light of the recent food crisis, the food stocks at the epicentres have played a significant role by continuing to provide food grains to the communities protecting them from sudden hunger.
Almost all epicenters in Senegal have food banks, and in addition to the tens of thousands that can be stored at the epicenter – the average capacity is 35,285 kilograms – at the community level and 17 villages have their own food banks. These food banks are instrumental in allowing farmers to store their crops instead of selling them immediately, and get a better price for them at market, as they are also essential buffers against famine and unforeseen food shortages.
Epicentre communities operate a preschool for young children, often providing their only nutritious meal per day. Seven of the epicentres in Sengal have active preschools.There are also currently 26 primary schools in construction in epicentre villages and 11 secondary schools. And while children are educated, mothers have more time for their own education and income-generating activities.
The community also hosts and provides Functional Adult Literacy/Numeracy classes in the schoolroom. Eight of Senegal’s 10 epicentres offer adult literacy courses. These classes allow partners to become more independent and confidently make business deals on their own. All of the epicentres have IT centers with computers, thanks to a partnership with CTI Senegal.
All of the epicentres in Senegal have health centers, five of which are operated by The Hunger Project. Nine of the clinics are staffed by trained healthcare providers. Eight of the clinics have a dispensary or pharmacy of some kind and five offer lodging for the families or patients.
All but one of the epicentres offer vaccinations against diseases such as yellow fever, polio, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis and whooping cough. All of the epicentres offer malnutrition counseling and treatment, diarrhea and dehydration treatment and height and weight tracking for children. There are two or three trained birthing assistants per epicentre and eight of the epicentre clinics offer family planning services and prenatal care, while five offer postnatal care. Half of the epicentres offer malaria screening and treatment and three of the epicentres distribute bed nets. All of the epicentres offer HIV/AIDS screening and nine offer counseling for those living with HIV or AIDS, but only two of the epicentres have antiretroviral medication for distribution.
Piloted in the self-reliant Mpal Epicentre, The Hunger Project Senegal, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, has been successful with the introduction of nutritional supplements for children. This product, which is processed and packaged at the epicentres, has improved the health of children in the communities while providing an additional source of income. Seeing the high demand by mothers for the nutritional supplement at Mpal Epicentre, The Hunger Project Senegal is now working on industrial production of the feeding bags in other epicentre communities.
From the beginning, the innovation of microfinance has allowed poor people – usually excluded from the traditional banking system – to obtain credit to develop microenterprises and build savings. Microfinance has become a real means of reducing poverty by improving both people’s standard of living and economic self-sufficiency, as well as offering a pathway to education, health care and equity between men and women.
Through our Microfinance Programme in the first half of 2012, The Hunger Project disbursed loans totaling £316, 577. Partners in Senegal deposited £183,927 in savings during that year. Of the 10 epicentres that are operating in Senegal, three have government-recognised Rural Banks and are self-reliant.
Meet Madeleine our Country Director in Senegal, learn more about the key initiatives that are empowering people to end their own hunger or take action now and get involved.