Senegal has one of the most stable democracies in Africa. Its economy, following structural reforms and liberalization, has grown steadily in recent years. Although the country is credited for having the best infrastructure systems in West Africa, this is only true in the North and Central regions. With an underdeveloped agricultural sector and underdeveloped infrastructure, many challenges to economic growth in the Casamance region in Southern Senegal continue. Since 2013, Shelter For Life has worked on a number projects throughout the Casamance region. Our work has included: constructing and rehabilitating farm-to-market roads and drainage systems, building transitional shelters, improving access to clean water, and developing agricultural farming practices and market linkages.
The SeGaBi cashew production zone of West Africa encompasses parts of the Gambia, the Casamance region of Senegal, and most of Guinea-Bissau. This agro-ecological zone produces over 222,000 metric tons of raw cashew nut annually, however only 1.2% of raw cashew nut produced is processed locally. The weakening of the regional cashew value chain has left many farmers without economic opportunity, stagnating market infrastructure and financial services.
Our program addresses this by developing value chain linkages necessary to support an integrated regional trade network for the cashew value chain, and enhancing the production and trade of cashews in local and international markets.
LIFFT-Cashew will create durable trade infrastructure, increase access to financial services, organize and train smallholder farmers to increase production and bargaining power, and build the capacity of local processors to add value to kernels in the SeGaBi cashew production zone. As a result, the program will benefit smallholder farmers, a range of processors, and a variety of other businesses along the cashew value chain.
Returnee Reintegration Program
Cut off from the main part of Senegal, the Casamance region has faced low-intensity conflict for over 30 years. In turn, many families from the region were forced to flee home. Until recently, refugee and IDP families considered returning home to be a long shot. Following recent development work and renewed optimism, many families have begun returning home, but without the resources to rebuild their homes.
In partnership with PRM, our program will assist returnee families to return home by overseeing the construction of transitional shelters and the supply of clean water. Utilizing a participatory approach, families will work together to construct their homes utilizing local materials.
So far, the project has assisted 250 families to build a basic home with a tin roof, and is set to assist an additional 257. The location of these new shelters will improve families’ access to healthcare and education and provide better opportunities for work.
Senegal Rural Roads: A Food for Progress Project
In the Casamance Region in southern Senegal, decades of conflict have left the neglected road network in a state of disrepair, while the heavy annual rain season leaves rural roads almost unpassable for extended periods of time. The poor condition of the roads, particularly feeder roads, has constrained access to agricultural inputs (seed, fertilizer, pesticides), fuel and construction materials, along with the delivery of agricultural extension and health services to rural communities.
In order to reduce these limitations and expand the trade of agricultural products, our project engaged the local community in cash-for-work programs that focused on rebuilding feeder roads in the region. This involved: restoring farm-to-market feeder roads and constructing drainage systems.
As a result of this project, 134 Kilometers of well-drained feeder roads were restored or constructed, travel times and vehicle operation costs decreased and volume of goods transported for sale increased. In addition, local communities reported increases in community cohesion, security and peacebuilding. In turn, the region now has a more efficient road infrastructure, and closer and more reliable points of sale between producers and transporters.