Senegal sits on Africa’s west coast; its capital, Dakar, is the westernmost city on the continent of Africa, making it a leading center for European and trans-Atlantic travel. The country of Gambia reaches nearly 200 miles into the center of Senegal.

  • Population: 12,434,000
  • Life Expectancy: 59 years
  • Access to Safe Water: 69%
  • School Enrollment: 75%
  • Land Mass: 75,954 sq. mi.
  • Literacy Rate: 41%
  • Under Age 5 Mortality Rate: 75/1000
  • Average Annual Income (GNI): 1,050

Facts about Senegal

Economic Development

Senegal ranks 166th out of 182 countries on the Human Development Index. With almost half of the population unemployed, about 54 percent of people live below the poverty line.


The quality of healthcare in Senegal decreased over the years due to a shortage of funding and trained personnel.

Food & Agriculture

Many families face chronic food insecurity, and the World Food Program estimates that about 16 percent of children under five are chronically malnourished.


Malaria and diarrhea also threaten children's health.


Senegal has a low literacy rate of about 43 percent and low enrollment rates in primary and secondary schools. Many children do not attend school because they cannot afford uniforms and supplies. Schools also lack funding and basic necessities, including textbooks, electricity, and running water.

Senegal flag


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Progress in Senegal

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.

  • Worked with partner organizations to establish community gardens, increasing families' access to nutritious food.

  • Drilled wells to increase access to water and reduce the prevalence of waterborne illness.

  • Improved the learning environment by renovating classrooms, building playgrounds and fences, and installing water facilities.

  • Helped children stay in school by providing them with school supplies and uniforms.

  • Contributed materials to help families rebuild their homes, which were destroyed by a flood.

  • Distributed food, soap, and other relief items to families affected by severe flooding.

  • Worked with community business organizations to implement income-generating projects such as dairy farms.

  • Set up granaries to store food for programs that treat malnourished children.

  • Evaluated children's growth and development and helped malnourished children access nutritional recovery programs.

  • Facilitated HIV and AIDS awareness programs for community members to strengthen their knowledge of the disease and its prevention.

  • Trained caregivers in nutrition, breastfeeding, and preventive health, working to decrease malnutrition in children.

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    World Vision in Senegal Today

    World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Senegal to improve their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 12,000 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Senegal. Highlights include:

    • Improving family health by expanding healthcare services and focusing on malaria prevention, maternal and neonatal health, nutrition, HIV and AIDS awareness, and immunizations.
    • Continuing to improve clean water access with new wells and training technicians on how to maintain and repair existing wells.
    • Offering children access to quality education and improving school facilities.

    World Vision History in Senegal

    World Vision assistance to Senegal dates back to 1975; an office was opened in 1983 in response to drought that was sweeping West Africa. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:

    • Helping victims of drought and providing food, counseling, and improved water access during the 1980s.
    • Implementing a locust control program to prevent future crop loss in the 1980s.
    • Drilling wells and improving agriculture, literacy, and health since the 1990s.
    • Focusing on water development, sanitation, education, AIDS and HIV awareness, and other interventions since the beginning of the 21st century.

    Geography & People

    Geography and people

    Senegal sits on Africa’s west coast; its capital, Dakar, is the westernmost city on the continent of Africa, making it a leading center for European and trans-Atlantic travel. The country of Gambia reaches nearly 200 miles into the center of Senegal.

    Low, rolling desert plains in the north give way to foothills in the southeast. The tropical climate includes a May to November rainy season and a dry season from December to April. Natural resources include iron ore, fish, and phosphates.

    Most Senegalese work in agriculture, growing groundnuts, corn, rice, and cotton. Other important industries include fish processing, petroleum refining, and phosphate mining.

    Senegal’s largest ethnic group—the Wolof—make up more than 43 percent of the population. The country’s official language is French, but the majority of people speak other dialects, especially the indigenous language of Wolof.


    Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, various European traders set up posts on the Senegal coast to export ivory, gold, and slaves. The French eventually incorporated Senegal territory into French West Africa by 1895.

    Senegal gained independence from France in 1960, beginning 40 years of socialist rule. The Senegalese elected Abdoulaye Wade as president in 2000, concluding the socialist party rule. In 2004, Senegal separatists and the government signed a peace agreement that ended a guerilla campaign begun in 1982. The conflict displaced more than 64,000 people.

    Senegal continues to hold democratic elections today.

    Prayer Requests for Senegal

    • Peace and stability within the government to continue.
    • The protection and care of vulnerable children in Senegal.