The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Senegal:
Senegal, the westernmost country in Africa, has a population of about 15 million people. Nearly half of the Senegalese population – 46.7 percent, to be exact – are living in poverty. Geographic disparities in poverty exist between rural areas and Dakar, the capital city and largest city in Senegal. In rural areas, 66 percent of residents are considered poor compared to 23 percent of residents in Dakar. Additionally, the general poverty line in Dakar is almost 2 times higher than it is in rural areas.
Approximately 46% of Senegal is classified as semiarid. Much of the land is threatened with desertification because of overgrazing, soil erosion from overcultivation and deforestation. At least 4.5% of Senegal’s forests have been eliminated. The UN predicts over 50 million people will be forced to leave their homes by 2020 because their land has turned into desert which has already started in Senegal.
- Hunger and Malnutrition
Nearly 50 percent of the population experiences malnutrition or hunger in Senegal. The economy relies mainly on the agricultural sector, with most of the citizens being employed in the industry. Even with the success of farmers, however, not nearly enough nourishment is provided to the 13 million people who call Senegal home. In fact, the rate of hunger and malnutrition has become such a problem that the WHO estimates that the country is on the threshold of an emergency. Half of the population is living on less than $1.25 a day. Food insecurity is mainly caused by the fluctuating food prices and some unfortunate results of the fluctuating factors are that more than one million children under five are at risk of food shortages, threatening their growth and their lives.
Only 30% of the population has access to electricity and 100% of it is produced by burning fossil fuels. It is estimated that 37% of the national CO2 emissions are caused by electricity generation. 79% of the population relies on solid fuels as an energy source to satisfy a significant part of their daily needs. Each urban dweller uses up to 5 times the wood fuel that a rural person does.
Sanitation, remains the main concern for the water quality in Senegal. Estimates from PEPAM and JMP both show that access rates in respect to sanitation are lower than they should be, according to the World Bank’s report. Bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, also known as traveler’s diarrhea or TD, can affect anyone in Senegal. As a result the disease is prevalent in Senegal, where 52 percent of the population does not have access to improved sanitation facilities. Malaria, another one of the most common diseases in Senegal, plagues many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. This disease has a 9 percent mortality rate overall, taking top priority among health officials.