Humanitarian Action for Children 2021 - Senegal



  • Senegal's humanitarian needs are driven by recurring floods during the rainy season and food insecurity, both of which are exacerbated by the effects of climate change. In 2020, the humanitarian situation was compounded by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which is expected to continue to impact the country in 2021. More than 4 million children will need basic social services in 2021.
  • UNICEF humanitarian action in Senegal will focus on expanding disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness interventions, strengthening systems and identifying sustainable solutions to address critical needs.
  • In an already constrained funding landscape, UNICEF requires US$16.2 million to realize the rights of vulnerable people and help save the lives of children, adolescents and women affected by emergencies in Senegal.


Senegal faces seasonal floods and droughts that impact children and their communities. The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating this situation and threatening the gains made across child survival indicators related to health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), education and protection.

An estimated 600,000 people affected by flooding lack access to adequate WASH services; at least 45,000 children have missed out on measles immunization; and some 4.2 million vulnerable people are food insecure. The cumulative impacts of COVID-19 and food insecurity could increase the number of children under 5 years suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) from 91,000 to over 108,000.

The pandemic is wreaking havoc on people's lives – both socially and economically. Economic growth slowed to 1.3 per cent in 2020, down from 5.3 per cent in 2019. Thirty-eight per cent of the population lives in poverty, and nearly 3 million children lack access to their basic needs. The real wages of the poorest 40 per cent of the population decreased by 8.1 per cent in 2020, and an additional 800,000 persons may fall into poverty. The children in these households will struggle to access basic services supporting their nutrition, health and education.

Senegal is one of the 12 countries most at risk of experiencing significant school dropouts and seeing its progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 (inclusive and equitable quality education and life-long learning for all) stall or even reverse due to the impact of the pandemic. Some 5 million children have been affected by school closures, which have disproportionately affected girls and exacerbated gender inequities. Only 11 per cent of children have access to distance learning. These children are facing additional challenges to staying enrolled in school and completing their studies.

Violence against children remains a major challenge in Senegal especially for girls and children living in the street or placed in informal daaras – traditional Quranic schools. According to the latest data, 3 per cent of girls aged 15 to 17 are victims of sexual violence. This burden is only expected to grow, due to COVID-19-related socio-economic impacts, lockdowns and school closures.