• 31%

    Almost one third of girls are married by their 18th birthday.

  • 26%

    26% of women have undergone FGM.

  • 39%

    39% people of people live in poverty.

Why we work in Senegal 

Senegal’s dry climate makes it difficult for most families to grow enough to eat. 39% of people live in poverty,1 and chronic malnutrition affects approximately 17% of children aged under five2

Much of Senegal’s population relies on agriculture and pastoralism, which is severely threatened by climate change.

Women’s rights in Senegal

Women in Senegal still face many disadvantages. 

As a result of low enrolment in school, and poor quality of education, just 39% of women aged 15 years and over are literate, compared to 62% of men.3

Violence against women and girls is common, and almost one in three girls are married by their 18th birthday.4

Despite being made illegal in 1999, 26% of women aged 15-49 have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM).5  

In the Ndiael Reserve, Senegal, ActionAid has supported local farmers to protect their land rights

In the Ndiael Reserve, Senegal, ActionAid has supported local farmers to protect their land rights .

Giada Connestari/ActionAid

What we do in Senegal 

Preventing violence against women and girls

More than 20% of women in Senegal have faced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence.6  

That's why ActionAid runs trainings and workshops to help empower women to know their rights, and to understand the laws against violence, so they can report cases.

We also run trainings on women's leadership and have supported women to become active in politics.

The women in these roles are then able to share their experiences of violence at a political level, ensure women's rights are prioritised, and promote women's access to local services.

Education for every child

Although education is free in Senegal, many families struggle to provide learning materials like books and pencils for their children. We work alongside parents, teachers and local authorities to make sure children have everything they need to thrive.

ActionAid also helps communities to build and equip pre-schools to give young children a better start in life, as well as encouraging schools to share libraries in order to improve literacy. 

Ending hunger

In Senegal, many families don’t have enough to eat. As a result, around 19% of children have stunted growth.7

Our local staff train women in practical skills like how to improve their harvests and process and market their produce for a better price. We also help set up local cooperatives of female farmers who work together and support one another.

We’ve established community seed banks which offer farmers diverse seeds that are tailored for local growing conditions. Combined with low cost but effective farming techniques like irrigation and compost-making, the seeds are helping improve harvests.

Support people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic

Our emergency coronavirus response has reached more than 62,000 people in Senegal. This includes the distribution of at least 5,000 hygiene kits, food packages for at least 20,000 people, and handwashing supplies for 13,000 people

With fewer resources and less representation in decision-making spaces, women and girls have been the hardest hit by the pandemic in Senegal. That’s why we've been running women-led projects to defend women’s rights and prevent gender-based violence.  

Supporting climate-resiliant agriculture

Bineta, 72, was the last person to get a rice harvest, decades ago, before salinisation of the soil led to total crop failure on the island where she lives in Senegal. 

"Rice was abundant, we had no problem with food," she said. 

We used to have 20 rice stores in the village, but we no longer have one."

But ActionAid's Agro-Ecology and Resilience Project is now supporting the community with better salt- and drought-resistant seeds, and training farmers with alternative agricultural methods.

These new methods, like compost boxes, can improve harvests and support whole communities to grow enough food to eat and sell. 

Read more about our work on climate change

Bineta, 72, in her rice field on Baout Island

Clément Tardif/ActionAid

Amie Diouf collecting mint from her table gardens

Clément Tardif/ActionAid

Training women in table-farming techniques

Erratic rainfall, rising sea-levels and encroaching salt water have destroyed huge swaths of farmland Senegal’s Baout Island, risking people's food security.

But Amie is just one woman whose life has been transformed by table gardening.

Using rainwater collected from roofs and stored in tanks, food is grown on tables using homemade compost composed of groundnut husks.

Each woman who has received training will now train 15 more women. "The idea is to have a table garden in every house," Amie said.

We can sell what we grow, and the proceeds can pay for our children’s education, health and to provide supplies for the house."

Learn more about our work on food security



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Top image: Bineta, a farmer, has been supported by ActionAid's climate resilience projects. Clément Tardif/ActionAid

Page updated 10 May 2024