Senegal is characterised by chronic vulnerabilities and seasonal risks, particularly in the northern and eastern regions of the country, where food insecurity is high and acute malnutrition rates regularly exceed emergency thresholds. An estimated 829 000 people are in need of emergency food assistance during the lean season. In addition, Senegal is directly exposed to the risks of epidemics, floods and drought.
About 38% of Senegal’s population live below the poverty line. Part of its territory lies within the Sahelian band, where recurrent climatic shocks and food crisis have eroded the resilience of the most vulnerable populations. In four regions of the country, very high rates of severe acute malnutrition are recorded, exceeding the emergency threshold of 2% of under-five-year-old children, as defined by the World Health Organization.
The country’s health context is also characterised by high maternal morbidity and mortality and anemia is a severe public health problem affecting 60% of women (FAO). Low access to healthcare increases the risk of diseases like cholera, malaria and others.
In addition, flooding in Senegal is becoming increasingly frequent. Each year, between 200 000 and 500 000 people are affected. There is an urgent need to reinforce the local capacities in terms of risk analysis, disaster preparedness –including early warning systems- and disaster response.
In 2017, European humanitarian aid has allocated €4.1 million to Senegal, including €2.1 million for food and nutrition insecurity, €1 million for disaster risk reduction and €1 million for resilience and linking humanitarian assistance with longer term development.
The European Commission’s humanitarian aid office is one of the main donors supporting the management of severe acute malnutrition. EU humanitarian aid helps cover the treatment of 20 400 undernourished children of under 5 years of age (equivalent to 17% of children affected by malnutrition). This is done through the Commission's humanitarian partners, which provide support to health centres treating severely undernourished children. The Commission also funds food assistance in the form of in-kind donations and cash transfers to vulnerable families in high-risk areas.
Regarding disaster risk reduction, the European Commission supports partners in the geographic areas most affected by food insecurity and undernutrition. The goal is to increase the populations’ resilience to multiple risks, on one side. On the other, to strengthen the national and local capacities in terms of analysis, preparedness and response to natural disasters, in particular with functional early warning systems, as well as shock-responsive services in the area of health and undernutrition.
In addition to covering the most immediate emergency needs, the humanitarian department works in close coordination with the development in order to increase the resilience of the most vulnerable population. The Commission is also involved in AGIR, the Global Alliance for the Resilience Initiative, which aims to achieve zero hunger in the Sahel by 2032.