Senegal: Improving Children’s Nutritional Resilience by Supporting Women’s Groups – Senegal


The empowerment of women at the community level in the nutritionally poor regions of Senegal helped improve children’s diets through better feeding and care practices for infants and young children. Initial results of this new approach to empowering women to improve nutritional outcomes began in 2017-18. The results show that by 2021, the majority of women’s groups (64 percent) will be actively involved in nutritional activities, including active screening for acute malnutrition, managing children’s grain banks to ensure no child goes hungry at any time of the year, monthly growth monitoring, and home visits. In addition, 40 percent of households grow moringa, a draft-resistant tree that produces very nutritious leaves. In addition, 22 percent of households have hand-washing machines installed with appropriate technology to improve children’s health and hygiene.


For more than a decade, communities in Senegal (with a population of 17.4 million people, including 8.8 million women) have had to cope with large sequential shocks, including a series of droughts. These shocks have affected the local economy, forcing households to save on essentials such as health care and food consumption. Over time, this has resulted in wide disparities in nutritional improvements across regions in the country. While national growth lags have remained stable below 20 percent for about a decade, many of the central, northern and eastern parts of the country – which typically suffer most from food and nutrition insecurity shocks – continue to experience high growth rates.

To improve the situation, the World Bank-backed National Diet Improvement Program had to overcome several barriers women face in accessing food and finance for their families. This includes, for example, long distances to get basic health care; cultural gender norms that require men’s consent to receive health care; a lack of formal identification or collateral to access microfinance; and widespread misinformation and taboos about childcare and feeding practices. The empowerment of women in these backward regions would ultimately lead to a decrease in growth delays and an improvement in the overall economic situation there.


The National Council of Nutrition Development (CNDN), which oversees the implementation of the Nutrition Enhancement Program, took a multi-faceted approach. Specifically, attempts were made to implement several innovative measures to empower women in areas characterized by a high prevalence of food insecurity and acute malnutrition among children under five. These interventions included the production and processing of agricultural and animal goods with high nutritional value; the economic management of new technologies; Building community solidarity for access to manufacturing facilities; Provision of health, nutritional, sanitary and sanitary facilities; and promoting basic health and nutritional practices for families. This new approach could only be successful if the empowerment of women is placed at the heart of the community mobilization strategy. In addition, various stakeholders, including village leaders and local governments, would have to take responsibility for the approach.


The new approach was implemented in 25 municipalities (with a total population of 568,521, between 6,414 and 52,205 per municipality) between 2017 and 2021. He assisted about 250 female executives in contacting local governments for prioritizing and appropriately budgeting nutritional improvements in local development planning. Around 125 women micro-entrepreneurs were equipped and financially supported by the community to carry out income-generating activities, sell hygiene products and make varied and nutritious products available and affordable all year round. Around 5,000 beneficiaries developed small animal (ruminant) and poultry farming as well as backyard gardening.

The communities have also implemented good nutritional, health and hygiene practices, such as hand washing after using the toilet and before cooking, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and frequent and varied feeding of children over six months. In addition, the communities took advantage of new technologies and learned techniques, such as using locally made fuel efficient stoves; improved poultry survival technology; the heat synchronization technology for small livestock (goats, sheep); the production of biogas for cooking and gardening; synchronized chicken hatching; Manufacture of bio-enriched foods; Child grain banks; and hand washing devices. Thus, these new tools have been used to improve household food security, diversification, and nutritional practices in children ages 6-23 months and pregnant and breastfeeding women. Many groups benefited from improved diets, including a total of 461,076 pregnant and breastfeeding women, adolescent girls and children under five. In addition, 102,480 women with new knowledge and skills were empowered to obtain adequate amounts of food year round. In addition, villages at risk (based on acute malnutrition rates, recent food insecurity shocks and those located at least 10 kilometers from any major road) have been included in social safety nets and in the development of nutrition-sensitive activities at the community level.

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, women have reaffirmed their place and responsibility in promoting nutrition at the local level. For example, female executives traveled to neighboring villages to promote preventive measures and help households set up 315 locally made hand washing devices (compared to 175 devices originally; an increase in response to the COVID-19 pandemic). ). During the curfew and the absence of weekly markets, micro-entrepreneurs ensured that essential products such as soap, bleach, masks and of course groceries were available. Women in income-generating jobs were able to cover health and food expenses and withstand the pandemic better.

These results and findings are currently being replicated in other vulnerable communities in shock-prone regions as part of the National Food Development Policy (2015-2025).

Contribution of the World Bank Group (WBG)

The bank has been supporting the establishment and expansion of the Nutrition Enhancement Program since 2002. The Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) of the WBG recently evaluated more than a decade of support through successive projects. Your report even confirmed (and improved) the satisfactory and very satisfactory evaluation of the individual projects, as well as the reputation of the multisectoral program and its focus on delivering results.

The bank continues to support the program through Investing in the Early Years for Human Development (P161332) for $ 75 million, including $ 35 million for the Nutrition Improvement Program. WBG support also includes the International Development Association (IDA) Investing in Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Project (P162042) for $ 120 million and the $ 10 million in trust funds from the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents. Finally, an amount of $ 15 million (of the $ 130 million dedicated to the Diet Improvement Program) will help expand the new approach to community dialogue and empower women, local leaders, women entrepreneurs and effective service providers to become. As such, they will help their children grow and develop optimally through the introduction of new health and nutritional technologies, techniques, varieties and practices.

Civil society and development partners

The development of the new approach benefited from input from a wide variety of stakeholders, including community leaders, women’s umbrella organizations, civil society organizations, local election officials, sector-specific public service providers, as well as various development partners including the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the United States Agency for International Development ( USAID) and the World Bank-administered Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF) (TF0A3526) for $ 2.8 million). These contributions were dedicated to finding new and sustainable ways to improve local resilience to food and nutritional shock.

The sectoral contributions are based on the National Strategy for Equal Opportunities and Gender Equality (SNEEG) and the sectoral action plans for nutrition that were drawn up as part of the Multisectoral Strategic Plan for Nutrition (PSMN). The implementation is coordinated and monitored by the CNDN.

Look to the future

The tools, approaches, and lessons learned are currently being replicated nationwide through the bank’s $ 75 million Senegal Investing in the Early Years for Human Development project, half of which is dedicated to promoting better child nutrition. This is in addition to the annual allocations from the state budget. With this new approach, Senegal aims to reduce the growth lag to below 15 percent by 2025 and below 10 percent by 2030.

Beneficiary Success Stories

Madarou Cissokho, mother of two children, lives in Boul Diabé Boumack in the municipality of Ndiaffate (Kaolack, Senegal). She is a successful micro-entrepreneur. Trained in entrepreneurship and financial management, she received start-up capital of 250,000 CFAF (approx. 445 US dollars) from the project in 2018, which enabled her to open a shop. Madarou sells all basic necessities including groceries and toiletries. With the savings from her retail business, Madarou has now helped improve poultry farming in the village. She sells chicken, which she can easily store thanks to a newly purchased refrigerator. , Madarou has bigger ambitions and wants to start transforming local products and producing animal feed. To do this, she plans to apply for a loan from a credit union.

“I got 12 chickens from a neighbor who was one of the first beneficiaries of poultry in our village. This gift was a blessing for us. ”Yama Diba

Yama Diba, a widow, lives in the village of Ndiba Ndiayenne in Medina Sabakh Municipality, Kaolack, Senegal. After receiving 12 hens, Yama also gave 12 more to two new beneficiaries in the village. Selling chickens enables Yama to meet the needs of her family of eight. In fact, the amounts from the first three sales (20,000 FCFA, 30,000 FCFA, and 35,000 FCFA ($ 36, $ 54, and $ 63, respectively) were used to support the whole family, especially during the lean season.


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