Only 62% of households in Senegal’s capital city have access to sanitation facilities. Considering that nearly half the Senegalese people live in urban areas, improving access to clean water and proper sanitation in these regions is imperative to the population’s health and the country’s development.
In an effort to help Senegal extend water and sanitation access throughout urban and peri-urban areas, the World Bank’s International Development Association has just approved $70 million in credit to fund an Urban Water and Sanitation Project, which is estimated to better the lives of 590,000 Senegalese people by 2030.
Senegal has made great strides in the past, achieving a 98% rate of urban access to safe water; however, population growth in the capital city, Dakar, and Petite Côte, a prominent tourist destination, has led to increased water shortages. The water deficits are set to worsen over the next five years, reaching 35,000 cubic meters and 60,000 cubic meters per day respectively in Petite Côte and Dakar by 2020.
Tackling these water deficits will be a major component of the Urban Water and Sanitation Project. One strategy proposed is the desalination of seawater as a supplement to groundwater and surface water resources.
Another area that the project will address is social sustainability, seeking to develop “pro-poor policies” that will improve access for impoverished Senegalese households. The program will target low-income areas in and around urban centers currently underserved by water and sanitation networks.
The project proposal promises that the newly developed water connections will be freely available to beneficiary households after “a small refundable deposit of $31, whereas the average price of a standard connection is $145. Similar rules will apply to social connections to sewers.”
In addition to supplying important access to sanitation services and safe water, the initiative hopes to promote gender equality. As is the case in many developing nations, Senegalese women and girls are largely responsible for the burden hauling water in areas without pipelines and distribution systems. The development of water and sanitation systems to impoverished areas will afford those women and girls more time for employment, education and other activities that promote social mobility.
The Urban Water and Sanitation Project also seeks to actively promote women’s interests, stating: “Attention will be given to promoting women’s entrepreneurship through the project as well as access to opportunities for training, business and leadership where feasible.”
Furthermore, women will take a central role in hygiene education and information programs associated with the Urban Water and Sanitation Project. The proposal also promises that women will also participate in selecting the locations of public sanitation facilities.
“By expanding access to clean water and sanitation, the project will help boost the health of Senegal’s urban population,” noted Matar Fall, World Bank Task Team Leader for the Urban Water and Sanitation Project. “Water access can also form the basis for many types of income-generating activities such as home-based manufacturing and services that can turn the poor into local entrepreneurs.”
The World Bank and Senegal are looking ahead to a future in which sanitation and water work to promote equality and opportunity, rather than functioning as a sign of poverty.
– Emma-Claire LaSaine