solar panels in SenegalIn Senegal, close to a quarter of the total population lacks access to electricity, with rural communities enduring the least access. In May 2021, two new photovoltaic solar plants opened in Kael and Kahone, two towns located in Western Senegal. The plants will provide electricity for 540,000 citizens at a low cost. The addition of the solar power plants form part of the World Bank Group’s Scaling Solar program and are funded by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), European Investment Bank and Proparco. The project estimates that more than 400 jobs in the towns benefit from the existence of the new solar power plants in Senegal. Because Senegal mainly relies on imported oil for electricity, solar power plants offer a more reliable and sustainable green energy source that costs less. Access to electricity is critical for the economy and businesses, improving people’s daily lives in several ways.

Poverty in Senegal

With roughly half of the total population living above the poverty line, significant improvements are needed to lift more people out of poverty. Roughly 75% of the Senegalese population depends on agriculture as their income source. Another primary industry in Senegal is mining. Senegal’s economy rises and falls, following global trends of prices. When export prices fall, farmers suffer the adverse effects since their incomes decrease. Many Senegalese people lack access to education, healthcare and other essential services. As a result of economic hardships, many people migrate from Senegal in hopes of finding better work.

Electricity in Senegal

Access to electricity plays an important role in the economy and contributes to reducing poverty. Senegal relies heavily on oil imports for fuel. Roughly 80% of Senegal’s energy is “oil-based.” The prices of imported oil fluctuate, and recently, prices have been high. The combination of no access to electricity, power cuts and limited electricity infrastructure takes a toll on the economy, especially businesses. Individuals also face hardships in their homes with a lack of lighting and energy to power appliances.

The Solar Power Plants

The solar power plants are located in Kael and Kahone, two small towns that rely on agriculture and have high poverty rates. Lack of electricity access is higher in rural areas similar to Kael and Kahone in comparison to urban areas. The new solar plants in Senegal bring opportunities for employment, improved conditions in workspaces and homes and affordable electricity costs.

Solar power plants in Senegal form part of the strategy for increasing access to electricity, focusing on regenerative sources. Senegal’s government wants to become an emerging economy by 2035 and the energy sector is one of the major components of Senegal’s growth. Rural areas remain the most challenging areas to install power grids. However, with low incomes, rural people struggle to afford the high costs of electricity. Solar energy from the new plants costs less than four euro cents per kilowatt-hour, making the energy more affordable than oil-based electricity and more accessible to rural areas with high poverty rates.

Attracting Investment and Igniting Economic Growth

These renewable energy projects attract potential investors to Senegal, giving the country even more opportunities to increase sustainable energy, including hydro, wind, thermal and off-shore natural gas. Senegal is also home to “the largest solar farm in West Africa,” with many private home-installed solar power systems. More micro-financing options and interest in infrastructure improves economic growth and increases access to electricity for those in low-income areas.

Although poverty rates are high in much of rural Senegal, one solution is growing the energy sector, which will improve the economy. The inability to access electricity puts a major constraint on economic growth. Solar power plants in Senegal bring people much-needed electricity at a low cost. Renewable energy sources are critical as the world is depleting its oil reserves. Bringing sustainable energy solutions to people living in poverty positively affects development indicators such as “health, education, food security, gender equality, livelihoods and poverty reduction.” Senegal is on its way to success as more and more countries switch to earth-friendly energy.

– Madeleine Proffer
Photo: Unsplash

Female Genital Mutilation in Senegal
Female genital mutilation in Senegal is still happening. Female genital mutilation (FGM) is an internationally acknowledged human rights violation. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as any procedure involving the partial or total removal or other injury to the female genital organs without proper medical cause.

Estimates have determined that internationally, there are 200 million women alive today who have undergone the procedure. FGM, while incredibly detrimental to long-term health, has been devastatingly popular for so long because of its cultural significance. Female genital mutilation in Senegal, in addition to Africa, the Middle East and Asia, has the purpose of controlling sexual behavior. This is to prepare young girls for marriage and keep girls ‘clean’ and ‘feminine.’

The Costs of Female Genital Mutilation

The practice leads to incredibly painful lifelong complications like horrific problems with childbirth, urination, menstruation and safe sex. Moreover, WHO estimated that the international monetary costs of treating health complications from FGM were $1.4 billion in 2018. Unfortunately, this figure could almost double by 2037.

Despite this prediction, Senegal has presented a fascinating case that defies international trends. Grassroots organizations and leadership from women in Senegal have demonstrated the resilience and power of localized movements and communities in effectively denouncing this practice. Because of this, the rates of female genital mutilation in Senegal have decreased in contrast to its persistent presence globally.

Senegal’s Progress in the Fight Against Female Mutilation

The action that some have taken against female genital mutilation in Senegal is especially promising given its past prominence in the national culture. In 2017, the Senegal Demographic and Health Survey found that almost 25% of 15 to 49-year-old women had undergone the procedure, as well as 14% of girls ages 0-14.

Since 2017, Senegal has made impressive strides to lower these numbers. The nation is now on track to become the first African country to fully make genital cutting a thing of the past.

Tostan is an NGO that has been working within communities in Senegal to put a stop to human rights violations like female genital mutilation and cutting. Tostan works with villages to increase literacy rates and bolster education initiatives including topics like proper healthcare, feminine hygiene, child welfare and human rights. Along with this advocacy work, Tostan encourages mothers, typically those who have undergone FGM, to speak out against the practice. Encouraged to not cut their daughters, these mothers now condemn it at community gatherings. Tostan’s work has helped 5,300 villages put a complete stop to the execution of this practice.

Tostan’s methods became replicated throughout Senegal and have led to surges of mothers speaking out for the cause. Following Tostan’s work, artists, rappers and other members of communities creatively engage in initiatives to spread awareness and promote discussion about the ramifications of FGM.

Looking Ahead

The progress in the fight against female genital mutilation in Senegal stands to teach international leaders and governments a lot. While regulation and legislation are important to stop this human rights violation, Senegal is showing how attitude and cultural shifts are the keys to real change.

Female genital mutilation in Senegal became illegal in 1999. However, this strong symbolic gesture only stopped medical professionals from administering the procedures. Determined parents were still able to cut their daughters, just without properly sanitized tools or medical care.

It is all the more important to educate communities of the very real and life-long ramifications of female genital mutilation, as well as empower women’s voices and grassroots movements to truly end this practice. Since many in Senegal still consider FGM to be a part of their cultural identity, the voices of women within communities, rather than external influence and legislation, are incredibly important to create change.

Jaya Patten
Photo: Flickr

Improving education in SenegalSeveral countries in sub-Saharan Africa have 50% or more of their populations concentrated in rural areas. With a high density of people in scattered rural areas, improved education in these areas is a priority. Gaps in enrollment and educational attainment are present throughout these sub-Saharan countries. Due to educational gaps, a group of architects formed an organization called Let’s Build My School (LBMS). LBMS focuses on improving education in Senegal.

Education in Senegal

According to the World Bank, in 2020, 52% of Senegal’s population lived in rural areas. In 2017, the country’s literacy rate was almost 52% for those 15 and older. Since primary school is compulsory and free, the net primary school enrollment rate hovers between 70% and 75%. However, this amount decreases significantly for those living in rural areas because of regional inequalities. The percentage of children in Senegal who are not attending school is about 38%. Rates of out-of-school children include 49% of students in rural areas compared to 21% of students in urban areas.

In addition to the regional inequality gap, there is also a significant gender gap in education in Senegal. Patterns of enrollment for males versus females vary by region. Some areas, such as Matam, have more females attending primary school than males with a little more than a 20% difference. On the other hand, a more typical trend shows males having anywhere from 1% to 40% higher enrollment rates in upper secondary school than females.  Due to these trends in regional and gender-based gaps in education, LBMS chose to focus on Senegal as the first area of its focus.

Let’s Build My School

LBMS is a U.K.-registered charity group of architects advocating for education as a universal right. The charity supports access to education in underprivileged areas around the world. It especially focuses on rural African areas and began its first project in Senegal.

LBMS builds schools in disadvantaged areas and remote villages using locally sourced and sustainable construction materials. It employs building techniques that are cost-effective and easy to implement without the need for advanced construction skills. In this way, the local community can be involved in the building projects. In the future, this will allow locals to replicate these efforts as needed.

Keur Racine

So far, LBMS has completed two projects in Senegal. One of these projects is Keur Racine in the Thiès region. The project was completed between May and July of 2017, mainly using clay and tires. LBMS added on to an existing school with two classrooms and an office. This addition increased the school’s capacity to 62 more students.

The foundation was constructed with tires “filled with compacted clay and sand.” The classroom walls were constructed from “sandbags filled with locally sourced material” to allow for natural insulation. The roof was built in a way that allows for ventilation and natural lighting. The sustainable construction of these schools benefits the Earth and the people living on the land by limiting waste and providing access to schooling for rural students.

Importance of Education

A lack of education and poverty typically go hand-in-hand. This is because those in impoverished areas do not have sufficient access to educational resources or opportunities. Education is essential for improving living conditions and eradicating poverty. Quality education creates an aware, knowledgeable and skilled population able to make a better life. According to UNESCO, about 60 million people could break out of poverty if all adults had two additional years of schooling. Furthermore, 420 million people could escape poverty if all adults completed education through the secondary level. For this reason, improving education in Senegal is imperative.

USAID is Improving Education in Senegal

Prompted by the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, USAID worked “with the Government of Senegal in 2007 through a Fixed Amount Reimbursement program to construct middle schools.” The government constructs school buildings using its own funds and resources. After completion, USAID reimburses the government after confirming that the school structure meets certain specifications.

The goal of the project was to build “46 middle schools and 30 water points” by the close of 2016. In partnership with the local NGO, Femmes Plus, USAID looks to improve learning outcomes through the Our Sisters Read program. The program looks to improve the basic literacy of rural children, especially girls.

With the help of organizations such as LBMS and USAID, education in Senegal and other impoverished regions can improve and lift millions out of extreme poverty. Access to quality education is a proven global solution to ending the cycle of poverty. LBMS is an example of a smaller-scale relief effort that is contributing greatly to the overall fight against global poverty.

Kylie Lally
Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in SenegalHIV/AIDS is an epidemic that is most prevalent in Africa. Many countries across the continent are acutely affected or struggle to control the disease. One country that has handled the crisis expertly is Senegal. A low-income country in West Africa, Senegal would look to be a prime candidate for a difficult path regarding HIV/AIDS. However, HIV/AIDS in Senegal is relatively low in cases and in damage.

HIV/AIDS in Senegal

Senegal has become a model for controlling HIV/AIDS across the developing world. The country of 16 million people manages to keep the prevalence and spread of HIV/AIDS low while providing many methods to increase knowledge of the disease. There are only 41,000 people in Senegal living with HIV/AIDS as of 2019.

The prevalence rate of people living with HIV/AIDS stands at 0.4 among adults between 15 and 49, with men having a 0.3 prevalence rate and women having a 0.4 prevalence rate. There were only around 1,400 new cases of HIV/AIDS in Senegal in 2019 and 1,200 deaths. There has been a 37% decrease in HIV/AIDS cases since 2010 and a 26% decrease in deaths. Roughly 70% of people with HIV/AIDS receive antiretroviral treatment. Senegal was the first sub-Saharan country to establish an antiretroviral treatment program in 1998 and is one of the few countries in Africa that provides such treatment for free.

Smart Senegalese Strategies

Senegal’s success is due to several methods of raising awareness about HIV and increasing treatment and prevention plans. Senegal took HIV/AIDS very seriously even in the earliest days of the spread. In 1986, Senegal was one of the first African nations to develop a National Council Against AIDS, which has remained effective and stable. The country was also one of the first to focus on securing antiretroviral drugs and negotiated deals with pharmaceutical companies in order to provide them for free or at a low cost.

The Senegalese government has continued to make HIV/AIDS a priority. In 1992, Senegalese president, Abdou Diouf, showed leadership by asking other leaders to make a commitment to addressing HIV/AIDS at a summit for the Organization of African Unity. This attitude has led to sustained success. Since 1997, Senegal’s HIV/AIDS prevalence rate has remained below 1%, a remarkable achievement as prevalence rates across Africa have frequently soared above 10%.

Senegal’s basic strategy has remained consistent. The country emphasizes awareness, provides medical resources and works with the powerful local regional communities to stop the spread. Public health initiatives including blood screenings, education programs in schools and condom distribution are common. NGOs also provide a lot of help in health initiatives and raising awareness.

Crucial in the success of preventing HIV/AIDS in Senegal is the support of religious leaders and the role of religion. Senegal is a 95% Muslim-based country, and generally, strict adherence to the religion leads to fewer incidents of casual sex and infidelity. In a largely religious country, the words of religious leaders are very important, especially as conspiracy theories around HIV/AIDS are common. Many religious figures talk openly about HIV/AIDS and promote solutions, which lends credibility to the danger of the disease and the government’s efforts to combat the disease.

A Role Model

HIV/AIDS in Senegal is well under control, which should be a great source of pride for the country. Senegal has taken HIV/AIDS seriously since the beginning and has a consistent and effective strategy that keeps the disease largely at bay.

Clay Hallee
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 response
While the COVID-19 pandemic has yet to come under control, many countries around the world have taken steps to economic recovery. African nations in particular, although prone to severe economic impacts, have shown significant progress in their COVID-19 response. According to the World Bank’s October 2020 Africa’s Pulse issue, GDP growth projections in all regions of Africa are positive for 2021 and 2022 following GDP growth decrease in 2020. This article highlights three countries that are demonstrating optimistic economic growth after COVID-19.

Rwanda

COVID-19 Response Measures: Rwanda has received recognition for its efforts to contain initial outbreaks. This is likely due to the country’s aggressive measures combining public health mandates and innovative utilization of technologies. What separates Rwanda’s response is its reliance on scientific guidance and a high-tech approach to health and social service policies. For example, treatment centers are using human-sized robots for temperature checks and supply deliveries. National enforcement also deployed drones to monitor and ensure compliance with lockdown measures.

Fiscal Policy: The December 2020 update on fiscal policy in Rwanda includes $314 million in economic stimulus, corporate tax exemptions and subsidies, cash transfers to citizens (unemployment benefits) and food assistance. Rwanda’s financial capacity proved beyond national resources but international support was able to expand it. UNDP Rwanda and the World Bank are currently working closely with the Rwanda Ministry of Finance to discern how much the COVID-19 response plan will need for operation.

Monetary Policy: The National Bank of Rwanda reduced the policy interest rate to 4.5%. It has further plans to establish liquidity and digital payment support measures. In Africa’s Pulse, the World Bank classifies Rwanda as the only country established in the Growth Taxonomy in sub-Saharan Africa. The taxonomy compares pre-pandemic performance to mid-pandemic growth. Expectations have determined that Rwanda will achieve the highest post-pandemic recovery with a GDP growth of 7%. With economic drivers like vaccine campaigns and investment and trade boosts, countries like Rwanda and Tanzania expect GDP increases. East Africa in general is expected to reach 5.1% GDP growth as opposed to the continental average at 3.2%.

Kenya

COVID-19 Response Measures: Kenya adopted many of the common direct response measures, such as a widespread lockdown. Additionally, the U.N. praised Kenya’s maintenance of well-equipped emergency treatment hospitals to best accommodate not only Kenyan patients but also U.N. personnel and partners. Kenya’s hospitals can also potentially play an important role in regional humanitarian development.

Fiscal Policy: Kenya announced a $534 million economic stimulus, a $377 million COVID-19 health expenditure, corporate tax exemptions and subsidies, cash transfers to citizens and food assistance. Like other African countries, Kenya is receiving financial assistance from major international entities such as the World Bank and the E.U. With 86 different donors, Kenya received Ksh 194,663,072,350 ($177,3769,915.25) for COVID-19 response plans.

Monetary Policy: The Central Bank of Kenya reduced the policy interest rate to 7% and planned liquidity support measures. Additionally, the government launched the National Hygiene Program (Kazi Mtaani) to reduce pandemic-induced unemployment. It offers employment with daily wages to the hardest-hit communities. Jobs include street cleaning, garbage collection and disinfection. Kenya’s trade activities also indicate promising economic recovery. According to the World Bank’s Africa’s Pulse, Kenyan exports have already recovered rapidly and have surpassed pre-pandemic highs.

Senegal

COVID-19 Response Measures: The World Bank highlighted Senegal as demonstrating a successful health response to COVID-19. Swift responses were key, particularly in regards to test capacity, quarantine facilities and ventilators. Preventative measures also included temperature checks and hand sanitizer distribution. By September 2020, 80% of confirmed cases had recovered.

Fiscal Policy: Senegal has an $801 million economic stimulus, a $130 million COVID-19 health expenditure, corporate tax exemptions and subsidies, cash transfers to citizens and food assistance. Some participating entities for Senegal’s financing include the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. For instance, AfDB contributed €88 million to support Senegal’s measures to provide relief to vulnerable households, businesses and job security initiatives.

Monetary Policy: Senegal’s monetary policy is in collaboration with other West African countries, including Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger and Togo. These countries work with the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), which has made FCFA 4.750 billion ($8,383,750) available to banks and has reduced policy interest rates to 4%. In Africa’s Pulse Growth Taxonomy, Senegal is one of five countries in the top tercile of growth performers. It has a classification of “improved.” Improved GDP growth can indicate the first signs of economic recovery.

The Road to Recovery

As a result of early preventative policy measures, fiscal and monetary policies, international financing and trade initiatives, many African countries have paved a road to post-pandemic recovery. Rwanda, Kenya and Senegal are merely three of the African countries benefiting from smart policy measures and quick COVID-19 responses. In many cases, these countries are experiencing even higher levels of growth than they did before the pandemic. The steps that these countries and others took can serve as a model for how to navigate the economic hurdles of a global pandemic.

– Malala Raharisoa Lin
Photo: Flickr

Power to Africa
In the digital age, access to the Internet has become a barrier to entry for much of society. Nowhere is this lack of access more prevalent than in Africa. Roughly two out of three Africans lack access to electricity, let alone the Internet. To address this staggering disparity in privilege in an age that the widespread use of electricity characterizes, several NGOs are working to bring power to Africa through a combination of innovative technology and locally-led distribution campaigns.

The Honnold Foundation

Founded by renowned rock climber Alex Honnold, The Honnold Foundation aims to promote equitable access to power worldwide. While the organization does work both domestically and abroad, many of its projects in Africa have focused on the distribution of solar lanterns and pay-as-you-go energy programs. These programs provide power to remote, off-grid communities. Through generous grants The Honnold Foundation has awarded to organizations such as The Solar Energy Foundation and SolarAid, the Honnold Foundation has provided clean, renewable energy sources to 12.3 million people. This has not only lit up a large swath of Africa but also eliminated the need for expensive and environmentally-harmful alternatives such as kerosene lamps. Additionally, the Foundation has provided solar power to 165 Ethiopian schools and 35 health centers, as well as more than 2,000 households.

Sustainable Energy for All

Sustainable Energy for All, or SEforAll, is an independent international organization. In partnership with the United Nations, it works to promote access to sustainable energy across the world. In Africa, SeforAll’s “Electricity for All in Africa” program is using a top-down strategy to alleviate regional energy poverty. SEforAll’s focus is threefold: first, it advocates for policy reform centered on the promotion of sustainable energy access for all, in conjunction with meeting sustainable development goals. The organization also utilizes a neutral platform to promote investment in sustainable energy in Africa. In addition, it accelerates the market for private sustainable energy companies and facilitates communication between companies and the public sector. In Africa, 44 countries have joined SEforAll’s initiative, with drastic long-term improvement expected in nearly all of them as more companies buy into the clean energy industry and countries adopt policy reforms.

Africa ICT Right

Many organizations are pushing valuable initiatives to bring electricity to remote and impoverished African communities. However, NGOs tackling the disparity in Internet access are less common. Africa ICT Right (AIR), is a nonprofit addressing the lack of Information and Communication Technology – or ICT – in Ghana. Some of AIR’s programs include projects to equip schools with computer labs and STEM teachers, programs to offer technological tools and learning opportunities to high school girls and innovative technological reforms in rural medical centers to reduce infant and maternal mortality. Above all, AIR based its mission on the following idea: not only does it benefit less affluent communities to have access to these technological tools, but it also allows the inclusion of diverse voices from areas such as Ghana.

Power for All

Power for All is an NGO that has dedicated itself to bringing power to Africans in rural areas through decentralized renewable energy sources. Rather than prioritizing one form of renewable energy, Power for All strives to promote a combination of different strategies to tackle increasing overall energy efficiency and availability. In addition to this goal, Power for All lobbies governments to reduce taxes on renewable energy sources. Furthermore, it incentivizes investors and banks to earmark funds specifically for the promotion of sustainable power sources.

ACRA

The Milan-based NGO ACRA is also spreading the benefits of electricity throughout several African countries through a variety of sustainable solutions, including the construction of small hydroelectric plants in rural areas. Organizations in Tanzania applied this strategy to a high degree of success. Plants turned over to local leadership and paired with education initiatives in the locales they power. What is particularly remarkable about ACRA’s programs is that it tailors them to the region in which they implement them. For example, ACRA’s hydropower programs in Tanzania work well in that region. However, in Senegal, ACRA has seen an even greater potential for the installation of solar panels to power remote communities.

The Push to Bring Power to Africa

The actions and goals of these NGOs point to a greater global appreciation for the value of integrating Africa. The work of these organizations will likely prove invaluable in bringing power to Africa. By incorporating Africans into the global economy, they better global communication networks with new and diverse perspectives.

Kieran Hadley
Photo: Flickr

Six Strategies that Combat COVID-19 in SenegalDue to the new escalating cases and the development of new strains of COVID-19 worldwide, reasons exist to worry about the impact of COVID-19 on developing African nations. Many are concerned that these countries do not have the same financial and health resources to fight the virus and protect their citizens as western industrialized nations do. However, Senegal, a small West African nation of 16.3 million inhabitants, might be an exception. Foreign Policy magazine released an analysis suggesting that Senegal ranks second of 36 countries in how well it has managed and resisted the pandemic. How does Senegal use its six essential strategies to effectively combat COVID-19? An examination of some of Senegal’s strategies and best practices can shed light on how it has handled the COVID-19 pandemic from its onset to February 2021.

COVID-19 Testing

The first strategy in the fight against COVID-19 in Senegal is its high-priority testing for its citizens. Testing is easy to obtain and readily accessible. Thanks to the efficacy of the Institut Pasteur in Senegal, people can obtain their test results in as little as eight hours. The program operates 24-hours a day and the entire country has access to testing. For those with symptoms, the test is free. Clearly, this has helped stop several chains of transmission. Additionally, the Institut Pasteur is currently developing a home test-kit in collaboration with U.K. company, Mologic. Med-tech news confirmed on its website that the partnership already began trials in January 2021 in Dakar, and they intend to start trials in the U.S. and Indonesia as well.

The Development of New Tools

The second strategy is to develop tools for the future. Possessing locally manufactured and innovative testing has been a trademark of Senegal. A ­­­­­­home test to check for antibodies in previously infected individuals is close to delivery. Both the Institut Pasteur and Mologic are partnering to make sure the cost is minimal. Dr. Joel Fitchett, medical director for Mologic, stated, “What we’re trying to achieve here is to deliver high-performance, low-cost devices that do not profit [the UK] because if we profit here, we only prolong this pandemic.”

Laboratory Construction

Senegal is building state-of-the-art laboratories. The construction of a laboratory site, DiaTropix, at the Institut Pasteur began in 2019 for the diagnostics of Ebola and yellow fever. Since early 2020, it became equipped with COVID-19 testing, making the implementation and validation of COVID-19 testing swift in Senegal. Furthermore, by making “smaller manufacturing lines closer to demand,” Senegal’s health system has now established a sustainable system with the ability to address a number of epidemics more quickly.

Testing Accessibility for Travelers

The fourth strategy in the eradication of COVID-19 in Senegal is COVID-19 test affordability and rapidity for travelers coming in or out of Senegal. The Institut Pasteur makes it easy and affordable for travelers to obtain tests by offering testing seven days of the week including holidays. It can occur at the cost of $73 (West African CFA francs 40,000). As close as 48 hours before traveling, one can easily obtain a test and receive results within eight hours.

Professional Expertise

Senegal remains at the forefront of the COVID-19 fight in Africa and worldwide. Senegal’s Institut Pasteur was one of only two labs in Africa that had the equipment to test COVID-19 and has continued to lead the way for COVID-19 testing and prevention ever since. The Institut Pasteur’s director, Dr. Amadou Sall, and his team have trained staff from a dozen other African countries on how to test COVID-19. Dr. Amadou Sall’s years of experience, high level of competency and expertise account for a lot of Senegal’s success in preventing the spread of COVID-19. His research covers diagnostics, ecology and evolution of arboviruses and viral hemorrhagic fevers. With more than 100 papers and book chapters, and more than 150 scientific communications, Dr. Amadou Sall is a world leader and accredited expert in this fast-evolving pandemic.

Presidential Actions

The sixth strategy is the efficient and pro-active governmental action against COVID-19 in Senegal. President Macky Sall took action early against the first coronavirus wave with a curfew in March 2020. Due to the risk of becoming unpopular, the president imposed a new curfew in January 2021.

Moreover, President Sall recently thanked Senegalese artists for helping to communicate the importance of prevention measures. He stated, “I am grateful to artists…. and other stars who turned to song, or painted murals, making it crystal-clear what was required of our people to stay safe. Washing hands, wearing masks, keeping your distance are simple instructions, so why complicate them? Why mess around, confusing the message, delaying the action and losing momentum?”

These are some of the most noteworthy strategies and best practices that combat COVID-19 in Senegal. Nevertheless, Senegalese people also deserve substantial credit for following safety measures at the expense of their jobs and communal lifestyle.

Elhadj Oumar Tall
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Senegal
Poverty often drives human trafficking. Senegal faces this problem because 46.7% of its citizens have been living below the poverty line as of 2011. Senegal has become a major country in which women and children are victims of trafficking, undergoing forced labor or experiencing sexual exploitation. Here is some information about human trafficking in Senegal.

The Victims

Many young children in the country, known as “talibe” are the victims of human trafficking. Several religious schools are forcing these children to beg on the streets for them. However, these schools are supposed to be caring for these children and teaching them Islamic studies. Human Rights Watch has recorded that over 100,000 talibes had to beg on the streets of Senegal as of 2017 and 2018. Importantly, several individuals have posed as Quranic teachers as well, thus giving many religious schools a bad reputation.

Traditionally, Quranic schools had the design of helping children memorize the Quran. Many know these schools as Daaras and they provide an alternative to formal schooling.

Meanwhile, in the case of women and girls, they may experience trafficking for the purpose of doing domestic housework, performing errands and enduring sexual exploitation. They also sometimes end up in sex tourism. In fact, traffickers frequently send Senegalese women to areas such as the Middle East and Europe.

Solutions

The Senegalese government has made an effort to prevent human trafficking and help victims who have experienced trafficking. Places such as the Ginndi Center provide shelter for impoverished children, including trafficking victims. They receive funding from the Ministry of Good Governance and Child Protection (MGGCP), which receives help from international donors. MGGCP works to reunite these children with their families, being successful in at least 917 cases so far. The government also organized a special police force to combat child sex tourism and a tourism police unit that helps decrease the demand for commercial sex acts in Senegal.

Since 2005, Senegal has a Law to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Related Practices and to Protect Victims. In addition, a new Air and Border Police unit in charge of transnational criminal investigations emerged. The penalities are different regarding crimes of sex trafficking, forced labor and forced begging.

As Senegal’s 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report explained, Senegalese laws impose five to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine for sex and labor trafficking. Meanwhile, in the case of forced begging, Senegal imposes imprisonment of two to five years and a fine. Unfortunately, the government simply handles some traffickers administratively.

Pathway to Continued Progress

Despite the lack of accountability of some officials and traffickers, continuous progress is occurring to increase the number of partnerships between international organizations, NGOs and government ministries/agencies. Workshops and training have been underway for judicial officials, law enforcement, gendarmerie, reporters and social workers. This is providing them with the tools they need for victim identification, investigation practices and assistance procedures in the hopes of eradicating human trafficking in Senegal.

Lastly, three noteworthy achievements have occurred in the fight against human trafficking in Senegal. First, a campaign awareness, that MGGCP organized, exhibited photos of vulnerable children beggars in June 2018. Second, MGGCP initiated a workshop for reporters dealing with child protection, labor and trafficking in November 2018. Lastly, the continued Daara Mapping Project emerged, which is a coordinated effort that compiles and inspects all the Daaras to prevent any type of abuse.

Looking Ahead

Senegal has taken steps to combat human trafficking and corruption. It has also created more economic partnerships by doing business with countries such as France and China.

The Senegalese, just like the rest of the world, must be more sensitive when it comes to human trafficking. Overall, despite the grim realities of human trafficking in Senegal, progress is tangible and citizen awareness is increasing every day.

Elhadj Oumar Tall
Photo: Flickr

Aid to SenegalSenegal’s economy is one of the fastest-growing in Africa, with a growth rate of above 6% from 2014 to 2018. The country is home to 15.4 million people and is one of the most stable countries in the region. The service industry heavily burgeoned this growth, which made up about 60% of the country’s total GDP. The shock of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a major slowdown in growth, falling to an estimated 1.3% in 2020. Although the country has instituted a comprehensive stimulus plan, Senegal’s economy is still facing a slow and painful recovery, which could be disastrous for the country’s long-term future. Aid to Senegal is essential for the country’s recovery.

Incoming Aid to Senegal

In a press release on November 11, 2020, Germany and the European Union (EU) announced the approval of relief funding for Senegal — 112 million euros in EU funding and 100 million euros in funding from Germany itself. The EU has a broader history of aid to Senegal, with more than a billion euros of aid sent from 2014 to 2020. Germany also has a history of friendship with Senegal, as the two entered into a reform partnership in 2019. The amount of aid rendered illustrates the strong commitment of both the EU and Germany to Senegal’s economy. The money will go toward Senegal’s COVID-19 stimulus program and will enable the government to continue relief efforts for its population.

German development minister, Gerd Müller, was strongly in favor of aid to Senegal and described many problems currently ailing Senegal’s economy. Nearly half of the country is unemployed and the shrinking economy will especially impact small and medium businesses, which make up 90% of all Senegalese jobs. Müller says, “We must not forget that the consequences of COVID-19 are far more dramatic in developing countries.”

Impact of Aid to Senegal

Müller is optimistic that the aid will enable the protection of jobs and the production of medical equipment necessary to fight COVID-19. The Senegalese government also started a program for businesses to receive cash loans for support.

Although Senegal’s economy is robust, it is still dependent on foreign aid to finance these measures. Aside from the aid coming from the EU and Germany, the World Bank approved $100 million worth of aid back in June 2020, demonstrating a need for further funding to prevent larger setbacks in Senegal’s economy.

An Admirable COVID-19 Reponse

The way that Senegal handled the COVID-19 pandemic itself has received praise throughout the world. It ranks second only to New Zealand on Foreign Policy’s Global COVID-19 Response Index, which measures the response of national leaders to the pandemic. The country took broad health safety measures at the beginning of the crisis, which had an unfortunate impact on Senegal’s economy. International aid to Senegal plays a large role in the country’s recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

– Bradley Cisternino
Photo: Flickr

soccer players practicing philanthropy
Soccer, or football players to most of the world, are most often recognized for their impressive work on the field. However, professional soccer players have a lot of potential for impactful good off the field. This, due to their status, influence and financial capabilities. Listed here are five soccer players (part of FIFA) who have a powerful impact on the lives of impoverished peoples. Importantly, their reach extends throughout the world. These are great examples of professional soccer players practicing philanthropy.

5 FIFA Soccer Players Practicing Philanthropy

  1. Lionel Messi is an Argentine footballer who plays forward and captains La Liga club, Barcelona and the Argentinian national team. In response to COVID-19, Messi has made a wide variety of contributions through his organization, The Leo Messi Foundation. He began his foundation in 2007. Its mission focuses on helping kids and teenagers using health, education and sports initiatives. Messi has donated €1 million, split between Hospital Clinic in Catalunya and a health center in Argentina. Additionally, he gave €200,000 to UNICEF projects in Kenya. As a result, more than 2,000 citizens gained access to clean water.
  2. Mohammed Salah is a winger for the English Premier League club, Liverpool and the Egyptian national team. Salah has donated thousands of tons of food and fresh meat to his hometown in Egypt, to help families who have been impacted by COVID-19. Also, Salah donated to the Bassioun General Hospital. Moreover, he (along with his father) gave land to establish a sewage treatment plant in his hometown. With this effort, he hopes to provide a stable source of clean water to the region. Furthermore, Salah has been selected as the first ambassador for the U.N. Instant Network Schools, which connects refugees and host countries’ students with online education opportunities.
  3. Sadio Mane is a forward for the English Premier League club, Liverpool. Mane is funding the construction of a hospital for the village of Bambali, Senegal, where he was born. He took inspiration to do so after losing his father to a stomach illness, with no hospital in the village available to help him. Considering Senegal’s inhabitants, 33% are below the poverty line and Mane’s contributions to schools, hospitals and mosques in his home village are helping improve the quality of life for individuals living there.
  4. Mesut Ozil is a German footballer who plays as a midfielder for the English Premier League club, Arsenal. It is reported that he has paid for more than 1,000 operations for children across the world, food for 100,000 refugees in Turkey and Syria and is an ambassador for the children’s charity — Rays of Sunshine, in England.
  5. Jermain Defoe is currently a striker for the Scottish Premiership club, Rangers. He created the Jermain Defoe Foundation in 2013 to support at-risk youth in his family’s hometown, Caribbean, St. Lucia. His foundation’s mission is to help kids who are vulnerable and in need in the U.K., the Caribbean Islands and Northern Island. His grandparents grew up in St. Lucia and his foundation has worked on several projects in St. Lucia. The foundation’s work includes the refurbishment of the Soufriere Primary School after a hurricane,  donation of shoes to the Daigen School and the financial backing of The Rainbow Children’s Home.

Good Work: On and Off the Pitch

In addition to their work on the football pitch, these soccer players practicing philanthropy are doing excellent work for humanitarian missions and initiatives.  The contributions of these soccer players in healthcare, education and nutrition are improving the lives of the individuals affected by their initiatives worldwide.

Hannah Bratton
Photo: Flickr