Senegal is one of the US’ strongest and most stable partners in West Africa. The country is known for its rich culture and heritage as well as the scenic beaches and cosmopolitan feel of Dakar, the national capital. However, things outside the capital are less idyllic, with poverty and food insecurity affecting large portions of the country – especially more remote cities and rural areas. Kedougou, the southernmost population center in Senegal, is in particular need and is vulnerable to crime, disease, and extremism due to its location in the tri-border region near the Senegalese border with Mali and Guinea as well as close proximity to the restive and long-troubled Casamance region. A recent boom in population due to the discovery of gold nearby and the subsequent influx of artisanal miners from across the region has increased pressure on the already strained government systems.
Improving economic and agricultural output in this area is of critical importance. Food insecurity in southern Senegal is widespread, and child malnutrition is endemic, with hunger-related stunting affecting 20-25 percent of children in the region. In an effort to address these issues, a US civil affairs team and their Senegalese partners, with support from Spirit of America, are planning to support a local women’s agricultural cooperative in Kedougou. Comprised of over 600 women, the cooperative grows grains in the fields outside of town and harvests fruit and honey locally. These raw materials are then processed and sold to wholesalers and in the local market.
The co-op currently lacks a warehouse and any type of storage capacity. This places their raw materials and processed products at the mercy of market forces and Mother Nature. In the rainy season, the co-op loses large quantities of grain due to mold and other moisture- related problems. Additionally, a lack of storage capacity means the women are forced to sell immediately upon production, regardless of commodity prices, and cannot wait for ideal market conditions.
A new warehouse for the cooperative will increase agricultural yields and profits for the cooperative. At the same time, it will help the US team develop relationships and friendships in a strategically important area.
Your support of this effort will help improve agricultural outcomes in Kedougou while simultaneously increasing incomes for over 600 local households. This will reduce local vulnerability to malign actors, childhood hunger, poverty, and food insecurity in the area.