Senegal: Food Assistance Fact Sheet - September 11, 2018
High levels of poverty and hunger persist in Senegal despite strong economic growth in recent years. The UN reports that over half of Senegal’s 15 million people are multidimensionally poor—a measure of deprivation in health, education and the standard of living. In addition, chronic malnutrition affects approximately 17 percent of children younger than 5 years of age, according to the UN World Food Program (WFP).
Much of Senegal’s population relies on agriculture and pastoralism as primary sources of food and income. However, poor rainfall in 2017 significantly disrupted crop and animal production in some parts of the country. As a result, the lean season, which normally occurs from June–August and marks the period of the year when food is scarcest, started prematurely in 2018; in addition, vulnerable households with depleted food stocks began to use negative coping strategies—such as decreasing the number of meals per day or reducing non-food expenses—as early as March to meet their daily requirements, WFP reports.
An estimated 751,000 people faced Crisis (Phase 3) or worse levels of acute food insecurity across Senegal as of August, according to the latest Cadre Harmonisé (CH) analysis, a tool used in West Africa to classify and quantify acute food insecurity.* In the northern departments of Podor and Matam—two of the worst-affected areas of the country—more than 176,000 people, representing approximately 23 percent of the departments’ total population, likely experienced Crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity.
*The CH is a standardized tool used across West Africa that aims to classify the severity and magnitude of acute food insecurity. The CH scale, which is comparable across countries in West Africa, ranges from Minimal (Phase 1) to Famine (Phase 5).
USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) partners with WFP (link is external) to distribute emergency food vouchers to an estimated 22,000 highly vulnerable people in Matam Department. Through this program, participants redeem vouchers in local shops and select from a variety of nutritious food, such as cereals, fish, oil, pulses, and vegetables, stimulating local markets and increasing dietary diversity. In Podor Department, FFP works with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Action Against Hunger (AAH) (link is external) to provide cash transfers for food to an estimated 15,000 food-insecure people. Families with available workers receive payment in exchange for repairing degraded pastoral ponds, improving water access for animal-raising households; in addition, some very poor households receive unconditional transfers. The NGO also distributes supplementary rations of fortified flour to 4,000 young children and pregnant and nursing mothers to prevent malnutrition.
Both WFP’s and AAH’s activities are coordinated with the Government of Senegal’s 2018 Emergency Food Security Response Plan, which targets the most in-need populations with food assistance.