Last year, Senegal marked its third peaceful transfer of power since the country gained independence in 1960. In March, former prime minister Macky Sall was elected president, unseating long-time incumbent Abdoulaye Wade. Wade’s controversial bid for a third term in office had touched off violent protests in Dakar. Africa’s third oldest democracy, Senegal is also the only West African nation to have never undergone a coup. 


Yet even as Senegal’s democratic credentials remain intact, it continues to rank among the world’s poorest countries. According to the World Bank, 47 percent of Senegal’s population lives in poverty. In the U.N. Development Program’s 2011 Human Development Index, Senegal placed 155th out of 187 countries. Promising a “new era” for the West African country, Sall has pledged to tackle poverty as well as reform and strengthen political institutions in Senegal.


In its 2012-2016 country development cooperation strategy for Senegal, the U.S. Agency for International Development reaffirms Washington’s development partnership with Dakar. Through 2016, USAID programming in Senegal aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Increasing inclusive economic growth
  • Improving the health of the Senegalese population
  • Achieving more effective citizen participation in the management of public affairs at the national and local levels


Citing low human development indicators in the region relative to the rest of the country, USAID will prioritize assistance to Senegal’s southern forest zone, including the conflict-affected Casamance area. The U.S. aid agency states that its programming in Senegal is aligned with Dakar’s 2011-2015 poverty reduction strategy called the Economic and Social Policy Document.


Funding levels

For fiscal 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama has requested $89.8 million in U.S. foreign assistance to Senegal, down 16 percent from current levels. The United States is one of Senegal’s largest bilateral donors.



USAID delivers the vast majority of U.S. foreign assistance to Senegal. In 2010, 77 percent of U.S. foreign aid to the West African country was channeled through USAID.


Funding priorities (fiscal 2013 request)



For fiscal 2013, the health sector is slated to garner 64 percent of the U.S. foreign aid budget for Senegal. USAID Senegal manages programming for each of the U.S. government’s core global health assistance initiatives: the Global Health Initiative, President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and President’s Malaria Initiative.


Through 2016, USAID anticipates that its health programming in Senegal will include the following components:


  • Health Services Improvement Program Component: will focus on health posts and health centers to ensure a well-coordinated continuum of care for women and children under five.
  • Health Systems Strengthening Program Component: intends to improve the performance of the decentralized public health system of Senegal.
  • HIV/AIDS/TB Program Component will provide targeted, relevant technical assistance and institutional support to the Government of Senegal to maintain a low national prevalence of HIV/AIDS and to improve detection and treatment of tuberculosis.
  • Community Health Program Component will enable the active engagement of beneficiaries in seeking and using health care options at the community level for both urban and rural populations.
  • Health Communication and Promotion Program Component will provide a variety of advocacy, behavior change communication, and social marketing interventions across Senegal.


Agriculture is also a priority for U.S. foreign assistance to Senegal, a focus country for the Obama administration’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future. For fiscal 2013, the administration has allocated 19 percent of its aid budget for Senegal to the agriculture sector.


Over the next four years, USAID Senegal will support agricultural growth throughout the value chain for four commodities: maize, rice, millet and fisheries. The U.S. aid agency plans to devote significant resources to investments in a range of agricultural innovations, including improved seed technology and more efficient processing techniques.


According to USAID, climate change activities will also be fully integrated into its agricultural programming in Senegal. Feed the Future programming in the West African country is expected to address land degradation and support the rehabilitation of small irrigation systems to reduce the effects of global climate change.


Devex analysis


Following last year’s historic and peaceful transition of power in Dakar, USAID’s partnership with Senegal is likely to remain strong for the foreseeable future.  In its 2012 strategy toward sub-Saharan Africa, the Obama administration had committed to bolster its support for model democracies in the region.


“If anyone doubts whether democracy can flourish in African soil, let them come to Senegal,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told an audience in Dakar in August 2012.


In line with the USAID Forward reform agenda, USAID has pledged to increase its use of country systems and local organizations in Senegal. USAID Senegal was among the first of the U.S. aid agency’s missions to form a local capacity development team. According to USAID, all five components of its health programming in Senegal will have requirements to identify and fund local civil society and nongovernmental organizations as part of implementation.


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