Senegal: Sustaining Momentum in Self-reliant Epicenters

mill_senegal_page_82_GBR_10_08_min.jpg

Update to the Global Board
(October 2008)

Executive Summary

For a country in sub-Saharan Africa like Senegal, the last six month period included the end of the off-season, agricultural production, preparation for the harvest and, finally, the cereal harvest. The Hunger Project-Senegal held a meeting with the epicenter producers to build their capacity. At the meeting, they discussed and adopted strategies that will enable them to ensure secure food security in their communities.

The Hunger Project-Senegal then helped to provide more than 1,200 producers, including women, with inputs to assist them until the harvest in October. Each producer then contributed one-third of his or her food production to the epicenter food bank. The expected result is that each food bank will be filled with grain by the end of October; the expected stock is 110 tons of cereals.

The Epicenter Strategy in Senegal is well underway. A particular focus has been on mobilizing communities through the Vision, Commitment and Action Workshops to ensure that construction of epicenters building is complete and they are fully functional.

The Hunger Project's work in Senegal is supported by a National Council.

Details on Progress

The Hunger Project-Senegal is progressively regaining the confidence of communities where there has been decreased activity for several years. Community members are assuming new roles and are becoming more directly involved in activities.

For example, we have noticed that volunteers in some epicenter communities that have formed recovering committees to collect old credits from community members and to restart bank activities, which had been closed for years. In the four government-recognized rural banks in Senegal, leaders have committed themselves to recovering money that has not been paid back for many years.

The credit recovery rate in our rural banks has considerably increased from 91 percent in 2006, to 94 percent in 2007, and 96 percent in 2008. This is huge progress for us.

On the other hand, one of our biggest challenges is that we find it difficult to get leaders to take charge of the management of epicenters in phase four of the Epicenter Strategy. The functioning of fully constructed epicenters is often blocked by hesitant leaders, who rarely take initiative and have other private occupations. The epicenters also suffer from lack of sufficient community financial resources.

It is extremely important in The Hunger Project's work to ensure that all self-reliant epicenters (in phase four of the Epicenter Strategy) should be made aware of their responsibility to ensure the sustainability of their epicenters.

Achievements

  • The off-season was quiet in 2008 at the epicenter level. This is due to the fact that 80 tons of cereals were available in the food banks and were transferred to the community.
  • 19 female organizations stated their leadership and become important economic actors. In the last six months, the 19 female organizations generated FCFA 790,000 profit with FCFA 380,000 in funding from The Hunger Project-Senegal.
  • Accessibility of child food supplements was adapted to rural conditions. Since April 2008, more than 10,000 of children's food bags of 3.53 ounces each were produced at Mpal and sold in the epicenters.
  • Partners at Ndereppe and Dinguiraye Epicenters launched again a strong partnership with The Hunger Project. Two epicenter buildings were constructed in 2008 to strengthen the partnership and keep our commitments to our communities.
  • The rural banks are in the service of empowering rural women. FCFA 105,055,500 of credit was granted to 272 organizations and 2,829 individual members.

Challenges

Children appreciate the food supplement bags, but the selling pace has been slow in the epicenters. In some epicenters, the price of the 3.53-ounce bag is said to be too high for households living in conditions of poverty. The Hunger Project is considering subsidizing the food for the children to benefit their nutrition.

Recent Innovations

We introduced the program of "female resident animators." These are women who have been trained and are paid by The Hunger Project-Senegal and who permanently reside at the epicenters to supervise actions, assure the coordination of everyday matters and act as facilitators between the epicenter's various committees. They constantly remind the leaders to honor their commitments.

Monitoring and Evaluation

After six months of monitoring and evaluation, The Hunger Project-Senegal has established good relations with the public services that have the main data on our epicenter areas. Now, collecting information on indicators happens frequently and the quality of information quality has improved.

Partnerships

The Hunger Project-Senegal is not in partnership with any central government programs. However, we are in partnership with local government services on issues related to health, education and agriculture within the epicenters. Government technicians are requested for trainings, support and advice on all issues of relevance. We now see more and more public agents involved in the epicenters sub-committees.

Partnerships have also been established with the following civil society organizations for supply of improved seeds:

  • GREEN Senegal
  • PADER Project
  • UJPM

Our partnership with the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO), from The Netherlands, was interrupted during the last months, but we are hoping funding will resume in 2009 for capacity building of women.

Broader Awareness of The Hunger Project/Media Coverage

An article was written by the national daily newspaper, Le Soleil on the inauguration of Coki Epicenter in December 2007.

Future Plans

  • Objective 1: Create a space of dialogue in each epicenter that includes: the epicenter committee + the local political and public authority + non-governmental organization (NGO) and government projects operating in the epicenter.
  • Objective 2: Launch the Women's Empowerment Project at the epicenters.
  • Objective 3: Design and disseminate the epicenter management manual.
  • Objective 4: Start the construction of new epicenters.
  • Objective 5: Recover unpaid credits to boost the banks that are closed.
  • Objective 6: Start the food processing transformation program at Coki Epicenter.

For each objective, testing and measurable indicators are going to be drawn. The results achieved will be measured with those indicators.

Still, we foresee the mobilization challenges. Working with all components of society (religious, public, local, political authorities, etc.) is our main objective to change the mindset of our rural population.

Country Profile - Senegal

Population12.4 million
Percent of population in rural areas58.4%
Infant mortality rate61/1,000
Maternal mortality rate510/100,000
Life expectancy63
Percent population undernourished24%
HIVAIDS - adult prevalence0.7%
HIV/AIDS - deaths1,850
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS63,000
Literacy rate (female)41%
Literacy rate (male)59%
Primary school enrollment (female)67%
Primary school enrollment (male)70%
GDP per capita$1,840
Population earning less than $1/day17%