The former French colony gained its independence in 1960 after merging with French Sudan to form the Mali Federation. After a number of changes, Senegal formed its current boundaries in 1989 and remained a socialist state until becoming a democracy in 2000. Senegal is known for being one of the most stable democracies and economies in Africa and has a long history of keeping peace in the region.
Senegal is located on the western-most part of the bulge of Africa. The country has a tropical climate in the south and desert in the north. Though the economy was once driven by slaves, gold and ivory during the 17th and 18th centuries, it is now largely based on agriculture.
Fifty-eight percent of the population is rural. Though French is the official language, it is only used by a literate minority. All Senegalese speak an indigenous language, of which Wolof is most widely spoken.
Senegal is one of the westernmost countries on the African continent and has a population of 12 million. Ninety-five percent of Senegalese are Muslim, and 5 percent are either Christian or other.
Heifer's Work in Senegal
Heifer Senegal started operations in August 2007 with an office in Thiès, a small town about 75km from Dakar, the capital. Heifer Senegal initially worked in partnership with Mission-Inter Senegal (MIS), a nationally renowned organization whose major areas of intervention include women, education, health, literacy and socio-economic issues.
Heifer Senegal is in its infant stage. It seeks to build foundations for a successful country program based on leveraging positive practices. It has currently launched its first series of projects in three geographically distinct and ethnically distinguished zones in an attempt to explore the potential and challenges of Heifer’s approach in different contexts. Agriculture, fishing and animal husbandry remain extensive and unproductive due to lack of know-how and possibly lack of political interest in the Southern region. Overall, Senegal holds great opportunity for agriculture and community development; it is a secure environment with a stable political system and a fairly good capacity among existing management structures.
Key Services Heifer Provides:
Sustainable agricultural production: livestock breeding and management training
Post-harvest management and processing: Providing training for producing produce for export; agricultural and livestock supplies commercialization
Market development: Providing micro-credits and loans; developing value chains and developing networks between sheep and pig breeders
Technology:Improving livestock gene pool
Nutrition: Promoting food security through advocacy and sustainable food systems
See where Heifer is working around the world to end hunger.
I remember the first time I heard of Heifer International. I was sitting in a Peace Corps van, driving through the streets of Thies, the second largest city in Senegal. Two of my fellow volunteers started excitedly chattering as we passed a sign. They slapped on the window and shrieked at each other. I didn’t really understand the excitement, but I noted the sign, a cow jumping over the word “Heifer”. At the moment, it didn’t mean much to me, but looking back on that moment, it was the start to something amazing.
The seating arrangement at a Heifer training session in Fandene on a hot May day in 2010 was fairly typical for this rural region of a strongly Muslim country: men in the front, women in the back.
Though it hasn’t received much news coverage here in the United States, there’s another part of Africa facing a food crisis.