Learn more about specific causes in Senegal that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentThe largest threats to the Senegalese environment stem from exhaustion of the nation’s natural resources. These threats include overfishing, overgrazing, and deforestation. Pollution and improper disposal of industrial waste constitute major a threat to the environment.1 Senegal has lost hundreds of thousands of hectares of forested land due to logging, hydroelectric projects, and other industries. This is also seen as a contributor to desertification and soil erosion.2 Currently, Senegal does not have adequate climate change legislation in place to help prevent the destruction caused by intense flooding during the rainy season. In poor communities, trash is used as a mechanism to block or soak up floodwaters.3
FamilyFamilies in Senegal tend to be large as women seek to bear more potential contributors to the family income. The fertility rate in Senegal for 2015 was higher than previous years at 5 births per woman.1 The largest threat to family harmony in Senegal is domestic abuse. A patriarchal culture contributes to high levels of domestic abuse that often goes unreported.2 Over 50% of women report that they believe men have a right to beat their wives to punish them or bring about submission.3
Human RightsThe most severe threats to human rights in Senegal involve forced child begging, severe abuse of students in Quranic educational institutions, and the lack of transparency in law enforcement and the justice system. The government continues to restrict the right for people to speak out against the ruling party, and there are very low conviction rates for abusers and traffickers.1 It is also reported that Quranic boarding schools force children to beg on the streets and house their students in deplorable conditions. Corruption and lack of regulation pose obstacles to the resolution of these concerns.2
EducationEducation quality is severely constrained by a lack of trained teachers, a shortage of instructional resources, and a challenging school environment.1 As a result, many Senegalese children have insufficient skills for their grade level and the majority do not advance to secondary school. School desertion is a common problem, especially among young girls, as they are expected to leave their studies in order to contribute to the family income as soon as they are physically able. Culturally, it is seen as more acceptable to keep girls at home to do domestic work rather than receive an education.2 As a result, the national literacy rate is at 49%, with a male literacy rate of 62% and a female literacy rate of 38%.3 Many children are also Read More sent to religious schools to study the Quran, and these schools are not subject to any government regulation. Over 50,000 children who attend these schools do not receive education and are instead forced by their instructors to beg in the streets.4 Show Less
Poverty47% of the population lives in poverty, 15% of which is classified as extreme poverty. Poverty influences people’s ability to obtain healthcare, participate in the economy, and achieve educational opportunities.1 As a result, many are trapped in cycles of chronic poverty.2 Poverty is unevenly distributed along ethnic and economic lines; 75% of rural citizens live in poverty, as opposed to only 25% in urban areas.3
ReligionThe legal framework of Senegal officially provides for religious freedom. 95% of the population identify as Muslim, 4% identify as Christians, and the remaining either profess traditional African religions or do not adhere to a religion.1 The government does not allow religious violence or extremism, and the country is known for its tolerant Muslim population.2
Clean WaterIn Senegal, 93% of the urban-dwelling population has access to clean water sources, but only 67% of the rural population has access. Only 47% of the country has access to improved sanitation.1 International aid organizations have attempted to improve water infrastructure, storage facilities, and help provide more immediate water access to rural communities so that people do not have to travel as far for their water supply.2
EconomySenegal’s relatively peaceful political situation contributes to its economic stability. It is the second fastest growing economy in West Africa, with consistent yearly growth rates of around 6.5%.1 Agricultural production, exports, and services comprise the economy.2 More economic growth is limited by heavy reliance on capital-intensive exports which inhibits job creation, and the volatility of the agricultural market.1 The unemployment rate hovers around 16%, and 47% of the population lives in poverty. Poverty is concentrated more in rural areas, where the majority of citizens rely on agriculture, fishing, and mining for their livelihood.2
GovernmentSenegal has a history of being one of the most stable democracies in Africa, and the government is frequently involved in international peacekeeping operations.1 Although the government has made considerable efforts to limit the influence of corruption in Senegal in recent years, including the establishment of anti-corruption agencies, the judiciary and business sectors are still susceptible to corruption. The most common forms of corruption include bribery, embezzlement and graft.2 The most recent president passed a law that decreased presidential terms from seven years to five years and limited each ruler to two terms in an attempt to further reduce government corruption.3
HealthIn 2012, Senegal initiated a universal healthcare program. Senegal’s previous health care system only benefitted civil servants and other employees in the formal sector, an estimated 20% of the population, leaving the majority of Senegalese to either go without medical insurance or find a local provider. For the 50% of the population living below the poverty line, health care was simply too expensive.1 Senegal now spends 4.7% of the national budget on healthcare.2 The leading causes of death in Senegal are stroke and respiratory conditions, followed by malaria. Malaria’s prevalence is due to lack of vaccination and education about how to prevent mosquitoes.3
ChildrenChild poverty, neglect, abuse, and violations of children’s rights remain pervasive in Senegalese society. Impoverished children are uniquely vulnerable to deprivation of their rights, as their desperation and lack of education allows others to take advantage of them. Due to a lack of vaccinations, diseases like polio and malaria are common. Malaria causes over 30% of child deaths and negatively affects pregnant mothers. 40% of Senegalese children do not attend school, and almost half as many girls as boys attend.1
AnimalsThe native population of Senegal’s larger animals has been eliminated by human population, although many, such as elephants, lions, panthers, and cheetahs, are preserved in the country’s famous Niokolo Koba National Park. Over one million birds are protected in the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary. Smaller mammals still inhabit much of the countryside, and monkeys of all types congregate in noisy bands.1
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