humanitarian aid to SenegalSenegal is a country on the western coast of Africa. Though it has enjoyed political stability for several decades, it is dependent on foreign aid. In fact, 46.7 percent of Senegal’s population lives below the poverty line. Additionally, 17.1 percent of children in Senegal suffer from malnutrition.

A prevalent issue in Senegal is the exploitation of children. Approximately 15 percent of children between the ages of four and 15 are forced to do labor, mostly farm work. An estimated 100,000 children roam the streets begging for money.

Furthermore, there are numerous health concerns in Senegal. For instance, anemia affects 60 percent of all women. Because most of the country does not have easy access to healthcare, this also increases the spread of dangerous diseases such as cholera or malaria.

However, several organizations and countries have become involved in helping Senegal. When observing the success of humanitarian aid to Senegal, there are many encouraging factors.

European humanitarian aid was able to treat 20,400 malnourished children in 2017. The World Food Program (WFP) has also been involved with providing nutritional aid to Senegal. Throughout 2017 they provided assistance to 37,000 people threatened by malnutrition. WFP is also on course to provide school meals to 160,000 children at 818 primary schools during the 2017-2018 school year.

In order to combat malnutrition in the long run, it is important to improve Senegal’s agricultural situation. This is exactly what the Millennium Challenge Corporation did. Rice is an essential element of Senegal’s nutrition and trade. However, due to outdated water delivery systems, rice farming has become difficult. MCC has invested $170 million in Senegal River’s irrigation systems. This is part of a five-year plan to invest $540 million.

This upgraded irrigation system has enabled farmers to grow more rice, onions and tomatoes, increasing their profits and enabling the country to be able to feed itself. One local farmer, Ibrahim Ba, was able to harvest an additional 2640 pounds of rice as part of the first yield utilizing irrigation. As farming conditions continue to improve, excess proceeds can go towards healthcare, better schooling, better farming equipment and other areas that will greatly improve the quality of life for Senegalese farmers.

Another indicator of the success of humanitarian aid to Senegal is the improved healthcare situation. USAID has been key in assisting the Senegalese government in addressing their healthcare issues. One crucial program has been the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI). It has been instrumental in lowering the under-five mortality rate by 55 percent over the last eight years and decreasing the infant mortality rate by 17 percent over the last four years. Additionally, PMI trained 1,474 health workers to be able to diagnose and treat malaria.

Besides assisting in the fight against malaria, USAID has trained health workers to aid during childbirth. These workers helped deliver 18,336 babies and have made visits to 54,530 recent mothers in 2015.

Crucially, USAID has also improved the education system in Senegal. Not only have they been able to build 46 middle schools throughout the country since 2007, but they have also improved the enrollment rates for those schools. Specifically, regions with USAID educational assistance enroll more girls in middle school.

Humanitarian aid to Senegal has seen successes in many major areas throughout the past several years. As these programs continue, all indications show that the country will continue to make strides to address poverty and the problems that still exist.

– Zachary Pappas

Photo: Flickr