health care system in Senegal The health care system in Senegal is focusing its reforms on expanding the range of health services offered. For example, increasing access to traditionally underserved populations and introducing social protection measures.

Health Care Sections and Structure

Both private and public health sectors exist in Senegal. Employees receive coverage from the IPM (Institut de Prévoyance Maladie) Health Fund, a public health care system in Senegal. In fact, employers have the responsibility of providing health care to employees.

However, employees must contribute to the workplace for at least two months before receiving coverage. Some services of these health care systems in Senegal include partial coverage of pharmaceutical and hospital costs, primary care, vaccinations and emergency treatment.

The public health care system in Senegal includes a Social Security department, but the responsibility of health care and employment are not inclusive. Therefore, if an individual is not employed but wants to receive public healthcare services, they have the option to use Welfare services, which covers primary care. On the other hand, private health services are also available for those unemployed, not receiving health care services.

Addressing Access to Health Care Services

While the health care system in Senegal is improving, there is still a lack of effort to address health disparities within the population. As a result, only 32 percent of rural households have access to regular health care.

Many organizations are working to provide aid ensuring wider access to health care in Senegal. For example, Health Systems Strengthening, a program stemming from USAID, is working to establish a performance-based financing project in six regions in Senegal. Additionally, it is working to provide services to three-quarters of the population.

The Role of International Aid

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is also providing health care services in Senegal. Their initial focus is on providing medical services for HIV/AIDS through the HIV sentinel surveillance program. Widening their goals for the health  care system in Senegal is due to the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative of 2006 and the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief of 2010.

Work in Senegal

In 2015, the Global Health Security Agenda, in partnership with the CDC was able to establish an office in Senegal. Through this, there has been additional development of networks and partnerships. For example, the CDC is now working with the World Health Organization and the Ministry of Health and Social Action.

Furthermore, IntraHealth is an organization working in Senegal for over a decade. Their goal is to help increase services for family planning and education about Malaria. So far, training has been provided for more than 1,000 workers. These workers specialize in family planning services. On a broader scale, 15,000 home visits throughout Senegal have. been conducted; Ultimately, to raise awareness about Malaria.

Overall, groups, such as USAID and the CDC are working with the government to address the health care system in Senegal. In partnership, there are increasing quantities of awareness and involvement.

– Claire Bryan
Photo: Flickr

Deforestation in Senegal
For the vast majority of people in the United States, it would be difficult to imagine a life without electricity. However, for many nations in the developing world, the primary source of energy – be it for cooking, keeping the house warm or industrial fuel – is charcoal, and the process of harvesting wood and making charcoal has created a livelihood for thousands of people around the globe.

Unfortunately for Senegal and other countries that rely heavily on charcoal production, it is also terrible for the environment. According to a statement by the United Nations Environmental Program, Africa as a whole is losing more than nine million acres of forest per year, putting the continent at nearly double the world’s average deforestation rate.

Deforestation in Senegal and the world can open the door for a host of other environmental problems. Forests are essential for maintaining local water cycles; deforested areas often see a decrease in rainfall, and experts say that the increase in droughts in East Africa in recent years are the result of heavy deforestation rates. In addition, tree roots play a role in maintaining soil by holding it in place; without tree cover, rain or wind can wash rich soil away and turn arable land barren.

Compared to the rest of the continent, Senegal is not doing too badly. An estimate by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the U.N. states that the country is about 42 percent forested land as of 2016. However, deforestation still poses a significant problem, in no small part due to the charcoal industry; more than half of Senegal’s 13 million people are still relying on charcoal for fuel and thousands of people in rural areas of Senegal have built their livelihoods on harvesting wood to make charcoal.

Flooding and the Women of Kaffrine

In Kaffrine, a region of Senegal where many families rely on charcoal, deforestation has taken its toll on the residents. In 2016, the region was scourged by heavy flooding during the summer. Heavy rain had always been common in Kaffrine during the summer months, but 2016 brought a level of flooding not seen for decades. The floods destroyed at least 100 houses and damaged at least 1,500 other homes on a massive scale. In addition, the flood waters swept away crops, resulting in farmers losing their livelihood for the year – a devastating blow in a region where agriculture is the main source of income. Experts claimed that deforestation may have been partially responsible for the flooding and that reforestation might be the key to preventing similar disasters in the coming years.

However, as deforestation in Senegal continues, the women of Kaffrine have been at the head of the movement to salvage what is left. Senegal has long considered the process of making charcoal to be men’s work, but in recent years, women have been taking the initiative to reduce the negative impact of charcoal.

The Female Forestry Association and PROGEDE 2

Part of the job is reducing the harm done through reforestation. The Female Forestry Association, led by Fily Traore, has been leading the way in this undertaking; in 2018 alone, the organization planted more than 500,000 trees in Kaffrine. One of its goals is to revive several types of fruit trees, which have become scarce in the region as forests disappear.

Furthermore, in areas which are dependent on charcoal production for money, women have played a massive role in finding other, more sustainable ways for communities to support themselves. Aside from the work of reforestation, which provides jobs for many women within the Female Forestry Association, women have been instrumental in developing alternative sources of income besides charcoal production. In particular, the village of Medina Degouye has taken huge steps toward developing horticulture; the community’s vegetable gardens not only provide food for the village, but several residents have begun selling excess produce throughout the region and even in the capital city of Dakar.

These advancements have happened partly because of the support of the United Nations’s Second Sustainable and Participatory Energy Management Project (PROGEDE 2) in Senegal. Under PROGEDE 2, women in Kaffrine are empowered to take charge of the local economy, including charcoal production and the management thereof. PROGEDE 2 also offered training in forest management, beekeeping and horticulture for men and women, allowing women to support their families while also finding alternative sources of income.

Aside from the environmental impact of charcoal, the work of PROGEDE 2 and the women of Kaffrine are addressing a much more direct result of overusing forests: if deforestation in Senegal continues, eventually nothing will be left to harvest. In addition, the long-term effects of deforestation could easily ruin life for many people in the rural areas of Kaffrine if left unchecked. However, between the work of the Female Forestry Association and the empowerment of rural women under PROGEDE 2, Senegal may be able to avert this scenario as the area sees a regrowth of its forests. The women of Kaffrine are taking the future into their own hands.

– Keira Charles
Photo: Flickr

disabilities in SenegalSenegal has the fourth largest economy in the western region of Africa. However, half of Senegal’s population still lives in extreme poverty. Due to the limited disability services provided by Senegal’s government, the barriers that people are encountering under poverty are amplified for Senegalese people who have a disability. Efforts towards improving disability services in Senegal are currently focusing on accessibility within education and economic inclusion.

Improving Educational Opportunities

Children with disabilities often miss out on quality education due to a lack of accessibility services. It is estimated that, in West Africa, one in four children with a disability does not attend school. Many organizations are working to improve the education system in Senegal to make it more accessible for people with disabilities. One organization is Sightsavers Senegal.

There are 700,000 people in Senegal who have a visual impairment, which includes thousands of children. Sightsavers Senegal started a pilot program in order to address the large number of visually impaired students who are excluded from the education system in Dakar. The program began in 2011, and by 2016, 187 students with visual impairments were enrolled in three different schools.

Sightsavers was able to provide scholarships to students along with textbooks that had been translated into braille. Facilities and technology were also adapted in order to accommodate students with a visual impairment. Sightsavers was able to collaborate with Senegal’s Ministry of Education to provide resources and training for students and educators to include more inclusive learning spaces for children with visual impairments.

The success of this pilot program provided incentives to the Senegalese government to uphold the program and work towards expansion nationwide. This budget has allowed for the addition of assistive facilities and learning resources in two more regions in Senegal.

Improving Economic Inclusion

Gaining economic independence and success is often difficult for individuals with disabilities. Job training and matching are challenging when services aren’t available to facilitate the movement of people with disabilities into the workforce. Senegal enforces a minimum access quota to provide employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities in both private and public sector jobs. These quotas minimize the number of people out of work due to a disability. The Ministry of Civil Service, Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Technical and Vocational Training are in charge of implementing and enforcing the quota.

In Senegal, Humanity & Inclusion’s “EMPHAS” Project is working to provide training and services to help individuals with disabilities work towards economic security. Their focus has mainly been pointed towards women and young people who have disabilities. Humanity & Inclusion focuses not only on the technical training side of job fields but also advocates for accessible facilities. At least 500 adults and 90 public and private employers have benefited from the implementation of EMPHAS.

In March 2019, the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, under the U.N., assessed the efforts being made towards improving disability services in Senegal. The committee identified areas where more intervention can be made, such as more vocational training and a focus on the implementation of services. Although there is still a portion of the disabled community in Senegal experiencing exclusion, resource allocation and a focus on making facilities more accessible have contributed to improving disability services in Senegal.

Claire Bryan

Photo: Flickr

agriculture in Senegal
The story of sustainable agriculture in Senegal is one of success that should be used as a guide for other countries. Between 1960 and the early 1980s, Senegal used monocropping, a dangerous practice where only one crop is grown year after year, leaching more and more nutrients from the ground. This eventually left the soil void of essential nutrients. When the area was hit by drought in the early 1980s, the land was unable to cope, and the country suffered from food shortages. However, over the last 20 years, Senegal has been using sustainable agriculture to bring back fertility to the soil.

In 1989, the United States government began working with Rodale International to come up with a plan to restore the soil. The plan was to use crop rotation. Every three years, one of four different plants would be sown in the soil. Each plant would only take certain nutrients from the ground and replace others. One of these plants was peanuts, the plant that caused the problem in the first place, and the second was millet. Both are now the main agricultural exports of Senegal. The other two crops in rotation are cowpeas and cassava.

The International Production and Pest Management Program

The United States and international companies are not the only organizations helping improve sustainable agriculture in Senegal. Senegal has been part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) IPPM program since 2001. The IPPM (Integrated Production and Pest Management Program) is dedicated to responsible pest control practices. The program touches on many points to control pests; however, its most important lesson is the responsible use of pesticides.

Pesticides remain a continuous problem in Senegal and most of the world due to their overuse. Pesticides stay in the water table, contaminating drinking water. They also hurt the soil since the chemicals build up over time and stay on the crops. When consumed pesticides are harmful to humans and animals. This is not to say that they are not sometimes necessary, but the IPPM suggests a less-is-more approach.


Private foundations are also doing their part. Syngenta, a Swiss-based based agricultural firm, has a foundation called the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture. The foundation works with public and private sector partners in order to finance innovations in sustainable agriculture. They also work with the World Bank, USAID and both the Swiss and Australian governments.

Since 2014, Syngenta has been promoting sustainable agriculture in Senegal’s rice production. In 2015, the organization began helping farmers gain access to better-mechanized equipment to facilitate rice cultivation in the Senegal River Valley. The overall approach of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture is to work with the entire system. The work with NGO’s and governments to help small farmers become more productive has helped to increase the economic benefit of sustainable farming practices. It also helps the farmers better feed themselves and their families.

Improving the Economy Through Sustainable Agriculture

The soil is becoming productive again, and farmers are gaining access to better techniques and equipment. However, the fight is not over. Senegal suffers from an unemployment rate of 47 percent. In 2017, the agricultural industry employed 77 percent of the population in Senegal, an estimated 6.9 million people. However, the agriculture industry only makes up only about 17 percent of the of the country’s GDP. The next step to better economic stability will be to tackle these issues. Hopefully, like its soil, the Senegalese economy will now rejuvenate and grow for all.

– Nicholas Anthony DeMarco
Photo: Flickr

African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control’s Tremendous Success in Eliminating River Blindness in Senegal
Onchocerciasis, more commonly known as river blindness, is a skin and eye disease transmitted to people by infected blackflies. The infection is classified as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) due to its prevalence and intensity. The World Health Organization reports that river blindness is the “world’s second leading infectious cause of blindness.” This process prevents adults and children from participating fully in everyday life, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Fortunately, the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control has shown tremendous success in eliminating river blindness in Senegal.

Of all the people infected, 90 percent live in African Regions, particularly around fertile river valleys. In these areas around 50 percent of men over the age of 40 have been blinded because of the disease. There have been around 37 million people affected by onchocerciasis. Although the numbers remain high, they illustrate a tremendous improvement in reducing river blindness. Some countries have even been able to eliminate the disease.


World Food Programme reports Senegal as having “persistently high poverty rates” typically around 75 percent of people living in chronic poverty. Additionally, 17 percent of people living in rural areas are food insecure. With high poverty rates often comes vulnerability to disease often due to a lack of resources and access to healthcare facilities.

In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that river blindness in Senegal showed a drastic disappearance after just 15-17 years of annual treatments. By 2016, 7.2 million people had received treatment for various NTDs. For river blindness alone, the overall treatment coverage had increased from 51 percent to 69 percent that year. This means around 629,000 people received treatment in 2016 while 915,000 were pending treatment in Senegal.

African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC)

Much of the success in eliminating river blindness in Senegal is accredited to the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control. In 1995, the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) was launched to control onchocerciasis outbreaks throughout endemic countries in Africa. With funding from the World Bank’s Trust Fund mechanism, APOC was able to allocate money in accordance with each country’s unique needs. As of 2007, APOC had spent $112 million over 12 years of operations, which is relatively low.

In 2010, a total of 75.8 million people of APOC participating countries had received treatment. Projections show that by 2020, APOC will have eliminated river blindness in 12 countries. The program is unique in that it establishes a platform for community involvement. Rural communities feel a sense of empowerment at being able to take control of the situations and help the people in their community.

Community-Directed Treatment of Invermectin (CDTI)

The African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control uses resources readily available in the participating communities, particularly citizen volunteers who conduct most of the local healthcare. Getting to rural areas is incredibly difficult due to terrain, so the implementation of mobile units was found to be ineffective. Often higher risk communities needed a response quicker than what the mobile units could execute, which is where having local volunteers is so vital.

Volunteers are locally elected and trained by professionals in APOC. Their main goals are to collect and administer the ivermectin tablets, the main medicine for treating river blindness. WHO advises a yearly dose for around 10-15 years.  Within their communities, they track and detect signs of infections. In cases were treatments require more care, volunteers are expected to help their patients get to the nearest health facility. In this process, the communities gain a sense of empowerment and engagement by being involved in solving their own health and development.


By 2006, 11 years after the program’s initial launch, APOC was able to treat 46.2 million people. By 2015, the number more than doubled to 114 million people. World Health Organization reports that in 2014, more than 112 million people were treated for onchocerciasis within 22 countries in Africa- representing 65 percent of global coverage.

World Health Organization has made plans to model the efforts of APOC. The involvement of the community in the process of medicinal distribution proved revolutionary in eliminating the presence of river blindness in Senegal. Additionally, to meet the Millennium Development Goal number one, poverty alleviation, WHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Neglected Tropical Diseases has created a guide for further eliminating river blindness throughout Africa. Most of these goals will be reviewed in 2020.

Progress is happening. APOC was able to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of almost eliminating the presence of river blindness in Senegal. Projects will continue to be successful if they use techniques like monthly treatments and the incorporation of the people in local communities to continue in the fight against neglected tropical diseases.

Taylor Jennings
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Senegal
In the transition from the French colony to the independent nation, Senegal has made substantial progress in relation to improving the living standard of its people. As one of the most politically stable nations in Africa, there has been greater space in the political arena to focus on development. Despite the political stability and continual growth of the economy, there are still key aspects and dimensions in the life of Senegalese people life that can be improved. In the article below, the top 10 facts about the living conditions in Senegal are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Senegal

  1. Senegal’s economy is based on mining, construction, fisheries, but predominantly, agriculture. Agriculture constitutes 12-15 percent of the GDP and employs upward of 70 percent of the total population. Many initiatives to address development in Senegal, such as youth employment, empowerment of women and stability of rural communities are centered around agriculture.
  2. Women in Senegal perform 70 percent of the agricultural work, doing predominately manual labor because mechanical agricultural equipment used contemporarily is unavailable to rural communities. Organizations such as the Italian Development Cooperation Agency have trained women in modern technologies and practices, hoping this knowledge will empower women in their communities to teach and be given greater entrepreneurial autonomy over the land and yield.
  3. Climate change is drastically altering the yield and land each season which impacts the food and employment security of the Senegalese peoples. The Senegal Food and Livelihoods Enhancement Initiative (SFLEI) by the World Vision Organization is implementing farmer-managed natural regeneration to address degraded soils, erosion and increase farmland fertility.
  4. Senegal has one of the highest electricity access rates, about 64 percent overall. The development of a centralized energy grid could provide more profuse access in the rural communities, but that is a cost-intensive endeavor for the nation. Solar and hydropower would be the most effective renewable sources for the country.
  5. NoPiwouma is the Senegalese offshoot of MeToo movement. It translates from Wolof to: “I will not shut up.” Due to the work of two women, Ndambaw Kama Thiat and Olivia Codouhe, Senegal, primarily Muslim country, is slowly beginning the conversation around sexual assault and harassment. The Google form these women created and Thiat’s blog are spaces that allow for women, traditionally suppressed by ideas of familial reputation, to tell of their experiences. Unlike the legal and economic aspects of the MeToo movement in the U.S., the mission of NoPiwouma is breaking the cultural boundaries of silence and submission.
  6. Hip-hop and rap is a medium that confronts Senegalese reality, recounts profound experiences of hardship and calls for actions of change. Senegal is 95 percent Muslim country and pervasive division of labor, societal roles and religious norms still exist. Rapping and involvement in this artistic movement allow for an honest, raw, politically charged reflection of these social values. Africulturban, a local youth organization, began a project for formerly incarcerated youth, access to the arts as an outlet for their stories and space for the narrative of stigmas in urban life to be discussed and molded.
  7. More than 60 percent of Senegal’s population is under the age of 25. A critique of many nations is the disengagement of the youth in politics, but the government of Senegal actively continues to try and engage this demographic through initiatives such as Plan of Action for Youth that aims to create coordinated policies through the National Youth Council of Senegal that integrate the youth in decision making and implementation of policies regarding education, employment, culture and health.
  8. Education is free and compulsory until the age of 16. In 2000, primary school enrollment was 69.8 percent, and in 2009, it was 92.5 percent. While the percentage of Senegalese youth attending school is particularly high, there are various aspects that direly need improvement such as the material goods needed for modern education. USAID is working to improve education in Senegal by providing internet access to more rural locations, textbooks for each grade level and renovating schools.
  9. Senegal practices some of the best methods of combating HIV and AIDS. One of the first initiatives that the country enacted was the elimination of an excise tax that made condoms unaffordable, in conjunction with an education initiative to emphasize the importance of safe sexual practices. The religious community took action too, as AIDS became a regular topic in Friday sermons in mosques and religious figures addressed the issue on television and radio. Less than 0.5 percent of the adult population suffers from AIDS, and less than 0.2 percent of youth aged from 15 to 24 are living with AIDS, indicating positive results from government and religious efforts.
  10. Senegal possesses one of the most developed water infrastructures on the African continent, but due to its location in sub-Saharan Africa, sustained and equal access to water is the challenge. There exists an inequality in access and a disparity in the quality of water transportation systems. In 2010, the government and the World Bank began the Water and Sanitation Millennium Program that benefited 654,520 people in five years. Based on this success, the project was renewed for the period 2015-2020.
The World Bank projects that poverty in Senegal should fall from present 34 percent to 31.2 percent in 2020 due to acceleration in agricultural growth and expansion of new industries like clean energy. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Senegal highlight the current situation in the country and are meant to give the face to the burgeoning development happening contemporarily in the country.

– Natalie Gates
Photo: Flickr

Women Rights in Senegal
In the past, women in Senegal did not have many rights, if any. But that situation is beginning to change as stipulations have been put out. However, these demands have been continuously violated by men who still believe that women should have certain traditional roles in society.

The most repugnant of these violations are forced marriage, genital mutilation, widespread violence against women, limited access to education, employment and decision-making positions, in the work or in the house. The government has been working toward making women’s rights in Senegal a priority.

Improvements in Women’s Rights in Senegal

Slowly, but surely, Senegalian women are getting more of a say in societal matters. Women have been appointed to decision-making positions, especially in the legal field, but they are still very under-represented in public and political affairs and need to become a larger voice in the public sphere.

In 1999, the Criminal Code was revised to make tougher penalties for crimes against women. This revision allows for the punishment of previously unrecognized crimes, such as incest, rape, sexual harassment, excision and domestic violence.

The National Strategy for Gender Equality was implemented between 2005 and 2015, concentrating on increasing women’s status in society, improving their capability, improving their economic position and setting up workshops to start the conversation in order to raise awareness about the issues that are prevalent to Senegalian society.

These three achievements have led Senegalian women one step closer to gender equality, but much more needs to be done in order to fix this sizable issue.

Current Status of Women’s Rights in Senegal

The Senegalian constitution says that all human beings are equal before the law and that men and women have equal rights. Women’s basic socio-economic rights are spelled out here, but they are not always followed through with. In most instances, men feel that they have power over their partners or co-workers based on the simple prejudice that they are not equal.

Some aspects of women’s rights have been improving, but there is still a huge discrepancy between what the law states and the reality for the Senegalian woman. Women are still viewed as second-class citizens.

In Senegal, the traditional view of society is still a reality, which is why it is difficult for women to get a say and be more prominent in the public sector of their communities. Men are raised up and women are pushed down, but changes to this are in process.

Barriers to Gender Equality

One of the largest impediments to gender equality in Senegal is forced marriage. This violation of human rights has been outlawed by the constitution, prohibited by the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1979 and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa of 2003, this issue is still very prevalent in Senegal society.

Another impediment to gender equality in Senegal is violence against women. This includes domestic violence, rape, the criminalization of abortion, discriminatory practices in access to economic resources and the silencing of women and girls in the in important decision-making processes.

What is Being Done and What Needs to Be Done

In order to break this tradition of inequality, women need to have more self-sufficiency, they need to have proper training and information sessions and they need to conduct economic activities to guarantee their sustainable economic progress and to ensure their access to justice without discrimination.

In terms of the criminalization of abortion, the Working Group strongly supports the current bill that aims to expand abortion in cases of incest and rape. The entirety of this West African country needs to work together in order to solve the huge issue of women not getting the rights that they deserve and that are promised by the law.

There continues to be growing support of women’s rights in Senegal, as well as a growing opposition to harmful traditional and cultural practices. However, there is a perception that the issue of gender inequality is the agenda of political leaders, which is completely false. This issue has been relevant to politicians only during election season.

In order for further improve women’s rights in Senegal, women need powerful allies and legislative measures to be put into action. Poverty legislation could be put to great use in order to give women a leg up in their communities. Every available resource needs to be tapped in order to achieve equality of men and women in Senegal.

– Megan Maxwell

Photo: Flickr

History of Ebola in Senegal
The outbreak of Ebola in Senegal became official at the end of August in 2014. A young man who had traveled from Guinea—a country already inflicted with Ebola—to Dakar (the capital city of Senegal) was confirmed to have the virus. The WHO immediately jumped into action and sent three of the world’s best Ebola epidemiologists to contain the disease and prevent spreading.

Symptoms of Ebola

The first symptoms of Ebola are like the typical signs of flu such as a headache, fever and chills. It spreads through contact of bodily fluids resulting in internal bleeding and organ failure. A person with a late stage of the virus often shows symptoms such as coughing up blood.

The disease has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent. Ebola can be contracted from the bodies of those who died from it, particularly when relatives bury them without protective gear.

About the History of Ebola in Senegal

Senegal was in a relatively advantageous position when Ebola struck their country because they had time to prepare as they watched it spread in neighboring countries. A National Crisis Committee was established quickly, to which funds were allocated in order to suppress the virus. To be safe, the government of Senegal expanded the eradication plan nationwide in response to the single case found in Dakar.

The fight against Ebola started with locating every person that came in contact with the first infected man in the country. After 74 people were identified, they were monitored intently to watch for signs of symptoms. The few that showed any symptoms similar to that of Ebola were tested, and all tests came back negative.

The infected man was treated in a hospital and recovered fully. He was allowed to re-enter the society once it was decided he was not carrying any contagion.

Around the time that Ebola broke out in Senegal, the country closed its borders to travelers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. This safety measure was taken in response to the massive epidemic of Ebola in those countries. The president of Senegal stated publicly that it should not just be an African emergency, but a global priority.

Senegal was lucky in comparison to its neighbors. The case of Ebola in Senegal is a perfect example of the positive effects proactive measures can have. Because Senegal took precautions before Ebola was found in their country, they were prepared for the disease when it was discovered.

Ebola-Free Senegal

A major factor in the success of Senegal’s fight against Ebola is the awareness they had about Ebola’s advances in their surrounding countries. Some of the measures Senegal took could be seen as excessive, but their “better safe than sorry” attitude contributed significantly to their Ebola-free status.

After the standard 42-day waiting period for Ebola cases, Senegal was declared Ebola-free by WHO on October 17, 2014. The country has not had another case since.

When the government of a country prioritizes the safety and health of its people, innumerable lives are saved. The diligence of Senegal ensured there was no more than one case found and no deaths from Ebola.

Even a disease as fatal and severe as Ebola can be prevented when fought effectively. Other nations can use Senegal’s response to Ebola as a role model for how to fight the disease.

– Amelia Merchant
Photo: Flickr

U.S. Benefits From Foreign Aid to Senegal
Since 2001, the United States has consistently provided foreign aid to Senegal. Washington’s contributions have continuously been above $30 million per year and peaked at $141 million in 2014. As a result, this financial support has had significant impacts on the developing nation.

Combined global aid has improved Senegal’s agricultural efficiency by shifting losses into profits of over $300 million per year, enhanced water access to over 140,000 people and increased access to secondary education by over 75 percent. GDP has increased from four to nearly 15 billion.

How the U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Senegal

Such improvements may seem praise-worthy from a charitable standpoint. Foreign aid, however, is not just a one-way street. In fact, the U.S benefits from foreign aid to Senegal. In one way, foreign aid can be seen as a macro-level investment by a government into an underdeveloped market. Foreign aid is unique in that the risk-level is nearly negligible given that the intent is not to see a personal return on the investment, but rather to accelerate growth to meet basic humanitarian needs.

Despite the moral and seemingly charitable nature of foreign aid, it can pay dividends to the provider in the future. As the receiving state experiences economic growth and stabilizes over time, it becomes more able to establish economic moats and reciprocate the help it received. This is typically though not exclusively seen through an increased ability to trade.


According to the Department of Commerce, current U.S.-Senegal trade relations are limited. While U.S. exports have gone up roughly 90 percent from 2006, U.S. exports to Senegal support only about 900 jobs as of 2015. That number, however, could rise significantly through increased foreign aid in education.

As more individuals become educated and start businesses that leverage increasingly efficient agricultural resources or other products, more jobs and growth could materialize as ‘what goes around comes around’ in giving back to aid nations. Increased trade with Senegal in the future could help the U.S. receive money given as aid back into its economy.

Economic and Political Stability

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Senegal by also bolstering economic stability so that it may develop into an emerging market. After the U.S. started providing foreign aid, the IMF in 2015 reported that Senegal’s financial soundness metrics suggested that it was stronger than West Africa as a whole.

The democratic state has also improved politically in the years since foreign aid started. Given the key transfers of peaceful power and the absence of violent conflict, the World Bank has regarded Senegal as one of the most stable states on the continent. Positive ratings have been helpful in slowly pushing Senegal onto the world stage as a prospective future power and perhaps, one day, a true regional hegemon in West Africa.

Investing in Senegal

Today, the nation’s political and economic harmony has drawn talks and the interest of private investors. Senegal’s “Plan Sénégal Emergent” is a new policy framework that seeks to combine social justice with good governance and economic growth to stimulate development. The purpose, as the name suggests, is to establish Senegal as an ‘emerging market’ by 2035.

An emerging market is a state that features characteristics of a developed market, but has not gotten there just yet. Such markets have potential for high growth and profitability – drawing the attention of the world’s financial companies.

While the road ahead seems long and arduous, President Macky Sall remains optimistic that his country can work towards achieving the goal. Foreign aid and a demonstrated domestic interest in maintaining stability show that Senegal wants to be a model for pioneering change in West Africa.

Lucrative Give and Take

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Senegal if this happens. Emerging markets are known for high growth opportunities that can be lucrative. Current examples of such markets include states such as China, India and Brazil, which have made big waves in the financial world. Senegal, as a result of development from foreign aid, hopes to be next. Investors could be able to capitalize on growth opportunities in a developing nation, which would materialize benefits to U.S. citizens.

With several nations still struggling with similar issues, there is still work to be done. The Senegal case-study shows that there is a need for foreign aid, and the argument for it is no longer exclusive to just global altruism.

– Mrinal Singh
Photo: Flickr

When reporting on countries like Senegal, major media outlets often reinforce negative stereotypes of the entire continent. This creates a problem in how the media misrepresents Senegal. Our rare interactions with stories from Africa tend to paint the entire continent with a single, wide brush as a cohesive unit rather than distinct countries.

Changing Views

Marisa Peters, a college student who recently traveled to Senegal, told The Borgen Project in an interview that how the media misrepresents Senegal can cause others to dismiss the country and look down on it as well. For many of us, our only exposure to Senegal is through this incomplete media coverage and do-good campaigns. This lack of balance and context leads to a one-sided perspective. Victims of poverty, hunger and disease stare back at us from haunting images and videos on our screens; big eyes and tiny limbs seem to plead for pity, desperate for help. We hear time and again about the violence, corruption and backwards-thinking that plagues the continent.

Perception vs Reality

All of these aspects certainly exist in African countries, many even in Senegal, but this is only one side of the story. There are so many positive aspects of Senegal that people rarely ever see. By failing to report the many distinct and positive aspects of Senegal, the media perpetuates the myth that it is just another “helpless African country”.

Many perceive Senegal as a nation of famine and starvation when, in reality, most Senegalese have plenty to eat. This speaks to how the media misrepresents Senegal as a poor and powerless country.

Poverty, while still a problem, is not an inevitable one in Senegal. They have actually made significant strides in the last decade toward reducing poverty rates. The government has been heavily investing in infrastructure, energy and agriculture which has led to strong economic growth – consistently between six and seven percent in the last several years. This solid fiscal foundation has helped turn Senegal into one of the economic hubs of Western Africa.

A ‘New’ Glimpse at Senegal

This growth has caused the poverty rate to fall by four to seven percent since 2011. In addition, Senegal has one of the largest safety net programs in Africa. However, this progress is rarely a part of the way Senegal is portrayed. Another example of Senegal’s underrepresented progress are the improvements in child health – a result of reducing malaria and malnutrition.

Because of various campaigns by organizations and outside governments, Senegal is misrepresented as a nation that struggles with AIDS. However, the Senegalese were actually able to quickly respond to the disease, and currently have a prevalence rate below 1 percent – a model of success for the continent.

Properly understanding the progress that Senegal has made — largely through government initiatives and investments — can also help dispel notions of corruption and instability that often accompany coverage of Senegal. In fact, Senegal has one of the most stable and democratic political institutions in Africa. Its history of civilian leaders and having only three major political transitions – all of which were peaceful – contradicts how the media misrepresents Senegal.

Debunking Stereotypes

Another media focus point is Senegal’s perceived issue of violence. Petty crime can be a problem in Senegal, but the machine-gun-carrying warlords that enamor Hollywood are nowhere to be seen. Focusing on primitive aspects of Senegal also shows how the media misrepresents Senegal; Westerners often perceive of the Senegalese as backwards. They are stereotyped as practitioners of voodoo and witchcraft, despite Islam being the main religion.

Like many African nations, Senegal is also seen as being technologically limited; in reality, the technology gap in Senegal is being reduced by their innovative youth.

Another one of the numerous ways the media misrepresents Senegal is by omitting many unique aspects of Senegalese life and culture. The capital, Dakar, is a fascinating city that beautifully blends new trends and old traditions. Senegal is home to a vibrant music scene, rich history, delicious cuisine, bustling markets and striking landscapes.

Senegalese Warmth and Hospitality

The Senegalese themselves, contrary to what can be found in most news outlets, are known for their friendliness and hospitality. The warmth of their culture reflects that of the temperate weather — this hospitality is known locally as “Teranga.” Peters said that it encompasses the incredibly kind and welcoming nature of the many Senegalese she met. She particularly remembers their willingness to invest time and energy into one another; in Senegal, “time is people.”

Of course, it is necessary for the media and academics to continue to report on the poverty and problems that African countries such as Senegal face. This is the only way outsiders can make informed decisions and stay up to date. However, this coverage needs to be balanced, and context must be provided or else myths and stereotypes will continue to be perpetuated.

Western media has already made significant improvements in covering more positive aspects of Senegal as well as considering the progress they have made, but as always, more can be done.

– Liesl Hostetter
Photo: Flickr