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Senegal

Recent years of economic growth in Senegal have not reduced inequality or benefited people living in poverty.

Discoveries of oil and gas in Senegal are giving rise to optimism that new revenue will benefit the country. But numerous underlying factors make inequality and poverty in Senegal persist, including the lack of economic opportunities, water and sanitation issues, the negative effects of climate change, and increasing urbanization.

The COVID-19 pandemic also significantly changed Senegal’s economic outlook. It caused incomes to go down, increased consumer prices, and lowered levels of remittances from family members living abroad. All have led to a decline in household purchasing power. Many of these challenges hit women harder. There is a feminization of poverty due to the lack of opportunities for women in formal employment; many are confined to precarious and low-wage jobs.

Oxfam has been fighting inequality in Senegal since 1981. We help people survive emergencies with our humanitarian program and tackle the root causes of poverty and injustice by advocating for better political and economic governance, agriculture/food and nutrition, social protection, sanitation, and climate change adaptation.

What is Oxfam doing to fight inequality in Senegal?

Oxfam works with partners to help people in emergencies survive short-term crises as well as provide sustainable and longer-term systemic solutions to challenges facing the most vulnerable people: youth and women.

HELPING PEOPLE IN SENEGAL SURVIVE IN THE SHORT TERM

HELPING PEOPLE IN SENEGAL THRIVE OVER THE LONG TERM

Creating opportunities and sustainable livelihoods

In order to help women and youth in rural areas make a decent living, Oxfam and our partners are helping families grow the food they need, provide training and other support for entrepreneurs, and advocate for the government to support their work. Oxfam helps people start small-and medium-sized commercial enterprises that create jobs, stable incomes, and opportunities for women.

For example, we support two agricultural processing companies through the "Businesses That Change Lives" program that have created 25 jobs, 80 percent of them held by women. These companies have enabled 140 producers and their families to stabilize their incomes.

Oxfam also advocates for equitable access to essential services for disadvantaged populations. In eastern Senegal, where poverty rates are highest, 618 women's savings groups have received training in mobile digital technology that has enabled them to increase their incomes because they have better access to digital financial and non-financial services.

Oxfam works with partners in Senegal to help families grow the food they need, provide training and other support for entrepreneurs, and advocate for the government to support their work.
Oxfam works with partners in Senegal to help families grow the food they need, provide training and other support for entrepreneurs, and advocate for the government to support their work. Holly Pickett/Oxfam America

Promoting citizen action

Oxfam builds the organizational and strategic capacity of civil society organizations, especially those including women and youth. We have helped create 29 citizen participation networks that are concerned with issues of local governance, gender justice, and climate justice, among others. In the eastern Kedougou region, Oxfam and our partners have organized citizen groups with equal representation of men and women to help mediate conflicts between communities and mining companies, explain the environmental risks facing communities affected by mining operations, and help citizens monitor local government budgets.

Advocating for accountable government

Oxfam and our partners see government policy as one of the main levers for systemic and lasting change that will benefit the poorest people in Senegal. We want to help citizens, particularly those who have been marginalized, to be aware of their rights and actively participate in decision-making that affects them by influencing the development and implementation of public policies. For example, part of our work includes analyzing how poor communities access government services such as water and sanitation, and using the results to improve access to these essential services.

Oxfam also supports organizations that advocate for laws aimed at better income redistribution and for a more inclusive economy, with the equitable and transparent distribution of state revenues among the country's citizens. For example, we worked with partners to advocate for a Local Content Act, which requires international oil, gas, and mining companies operating in Senegal to purchase goods and services from local companies. We also funded a youth network that monitors and advocates for the employment of young people by companies operating in Senegal.

We are also advocating for budget transparency as a means to ensure that revenues from the oil, gas, and mining industries are used to combat poverty and extreme inequality, not just in Senegal, but across West Africa.

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