Senegal’s rural poor to benefit from UN-backed project

8 October 2008

The United Nations agency tasked with alleviating the plight of the world’s rural poor announced plans today to provide $15 million to a project in Senegal that aims to help families living in the West African country’s “groundnut basin.”

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will give a loan of nearly $14.9 million and a grant of $270,000 to Senegal to support about 36,000 family-run farms, according to a news release issued by the Rome-based agency.

The groundnut basin, focused on central and southern Senegal, was once the country’s most vibrant agricultural region. But a combination of climate change, continued land degradation and the extended slump in global groundnut markets have brought a steady economic decline in the area and forced many rural families into poverty.

Under the project, farmer organizations will be strengthened so that members have a greater say in decision-making processes regionally and nationally, hopefully leading to more equitable distribution of profits and increased market access.

IFAD said the project will particularly target vulnerable smallholder farmers with limited family labour, women and girls, and underemployed people aged between 18 and 30.

So far the agency has funded 14 rural development projects across Senegal worth about $150 million.


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