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Senegal is part of:
Africa · Western Africa ·
Water Basins of Senegal:
Geba · Senegal Basin ·
Facts & Figures edit
Capital Dakar
Neighbouring Countries Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritiana, Mali
Total Area 196,190 km2
  - Water 4,190 km2 (2.14%) / 214 m2/ha
  - Land 192,000 km2
Coastline 531 km
Population 11,658,170 (59 inhab./km2)
HDIA 0.502 (2007)
Gini CoefficientA 41.3 (1995)
Nominal GDPB $13,900 million
GDP (PPP) Per CapitaB $1,800
Land UseC
  - Cultivated Land 24,480 km2 (12.75%)
     - Arable 24,019 km2 (12.51%)
     - Permanent Crops 461 km2 (0.24%)
     - Irrigated 1,200 km2
  - Non cultivated 108,550 km2 (87.25%)
Average Annual RainfallD 686 mm
Renewable Water ResourcesE 39.4 km3
Water WithdrawalsF 2.221 km3/yr
  - For Agricultural Use 93%
  - For Domestic Use 4%
  - For Industrial Use 3%
  - Per Capita 215 m3
Population with safe access to
  - Improved Water Source 76%
     - Urban population 92%
     - Rural population 60%
  - Improved Sanitation 57%
     - Urban population 79%
     - Rural population 34%
References & Remarks
A UNDP Human Development Report
B CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia
C CIA World Factbook Country Profiles
D Aquastat - FAO's Information System on Water and Agriculture
E CIA World Factbook
F Earthtrends

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Country Profile: Climate, Geography, Socio-Economic Context

Country Profile: Water Bodies and Resources

Access to water is critical to the livelihoods of the rural population in Senegal, and rainfall is the primary determinant of agricultural productivity. The climate in Senegal is Sahelian, with a rainy season from June to October and a dry season from November to June. Rainfall, which ranges from about 150 millimeters per year in the northern sandy pastoral region to 1400 millimeters a year in the Casamance, is highly regionalized and variable from year to year. In areas such as the Senegal River Valley and Peanut Basin, rainfall can vary 500 millimeters or more in a given year, ranging from 150 to 600 millimeters. Every region is receiving less rain due to climate change: in the period between 1965 and 1990, rainfall has decreased by about 200 millimeters per year countrywide. Periods of extreme drought also occur, most recently in the 1970s and 1980s.

Senegal has four major rivers: the Senegal; Sine-Saloum; Gambia; and Casamance. Of the river basins, the Senegal River basin is the most important, covering about 37% of the total land area and sharing its water with neighboring countries (Guinea, Mali, and Mauritania). Senegal, Mali, and Mauritania founded the Organization for the Development of the Senegal River (OMVS) in 1972 to manage basin resources, with Guinea joining in 2005. The OMVS countries invested in the construction of two major dams designed to control the flow of the waters to supply year-round irrigation, to generate electricity, and control flooding. The Diama Dam near the mouth of the Senegal River on the border of Mauritania prevents saltwater intrusion into the lower portions of the river during the dry season; the Manantali Dam, which is near the headwaters of the Bafing tributary in Mali, is designed to capture and regulate the flow from the river’s source. Construction of the dams increased the availability of water for irrigation and drinking but also disrupted patterns of water use by crop producers and nomadic (or transhumant) livestock owners, degraded estuarine and floodplain ecosystems, and led to a rise in waterborne diseases. Planning for the Manantali Dam was based on hydrological data from earlier decades; current climate conditions have proved to be drier and, overall, projected capacities for both water and energy produced by the hydroelectric power plant built at Manantali have not been met.

Senegal’s renewable surface water resources are estimated at 24 cubic kilometers per year, and renewable groundwater resources total about 3.5 cubic kilometers per year. Water delivery is managed through a public-private partnership in Senegal, and privatization resulted in marked improvement in access to water and water quality, with about 90% coverage in areas and 65–75% coverage in rural areas. However, although overall access numbers are high, wide gaps in coverage exist between access to water in Dakar and other cities and between wealthier and poorer residential areas, and water coverage in some rural areas remains quite low.

Senegal’s estimated irrigation potential is about 340,000 hectares, but irrigation covers only 105,000 hectares, with a 60% exploitation rate. Many irrigated areas are poorly managed, allowing excessive runoff and heavy concentrations of salt. High development costs and inadequate user participation in water management have been blamed for these shortcomings.

Country Profile: Legal and Institutional Environment

Legal Framework

Under the Water Code of 1981 (Law 81-13), ground and surface water are considered a community resource held by the state in the public domain. The Water Code provides for management of water resources by central government agencies. Human consumption takes first priority for water-use, followed by agriculture; agro-industrial purposes other than growing food; energy; mining; navigation; and tourism. Regulations implementing the Water Code are contained in Decrees 555, 556, and 557 of 1998.

The Water Code permits fixed-term public concessions for water use by public institutions, national companies, public companies, and private entities. The concessions are fee-based, but in some cases the fee is subsidized, with commercial operators paying higher fees and garden and household users paying lower fees. Individuals generally pay for access to drinking water, which is distributed by the private operating company, Sénégalaise des Eaux (SDE), although some access in rural areas is free. Landholders are free to use surface water accumulating on their land. A right to water can also be specifically and explicitly granted for farm, livestock, industrial, and tourism purposes. Outside these official channels, customary practices in managing water remain prevalent

The Water Code does not address water rights specific to the extensive pastoral regions of the country, where water access is often limited to boreholes and other constructed water points. Under the formal law, access to land and water are governed by rural councils and central government bodies, respectively. However, under customary law, the traditional Fulani herding clans generally control access to the water points and assert access rights to surrounding farmland.

Institutional Framework
Key Agencies in Senegal's Water Sector
Key Agencies in Senegal's Water Sector

The legislative framework gives several different entities authority over rights to Senegal’s irrigated land and water. The central government has authority over water resources, including water used for irrigation. The government’s authority is subject to its status as a member of OMVS, which has a quota system for preventing unequal use of water from the Senegal River. Senegal has a quota of 80,000 hectares of irrigated land. The central-level agency, Société d’Aménagement des Espaces du Delta et de la Falémé (SAED), was originally responsible for managing irrigation schemes on all land in the national domain. Water User Associations (WUAs), federated bodies that are composed of several villages in a designated irrigation area, are responsible for allocating land and managing water resources on irrigated land subject to SAED authority.

The Ministry of Habitat, Construction, and Hydraulics is responsible for water supply in urban and rural areas. Within the Ministry, the Directorate of Rural Hydraulics (DHR) is responsible for the planning, implementation and monitoring of new drinking water supplies in rural areas. The Directorate of the Operation and Maintenance (DEM) is responsible for technical support and advice to users’ associations and management committees, and control and regulation of public drinking water in rural areas. The Directorate of Management and Planning of Water Resources (DGPRE) is responsible for the inventory of works of groundwater abstraction, and monitoring quality and quantity of groundwater resources.

The government of Senegal contracts with the Senegalese national water company (Société Nationale des Eaux du Senegal, SONES) and Sénégalaise des Eaux (SDE) for water services. SONES is the holding company and is responsible for investments in infrastructure and management of SDE. SDE is responsible for water delivery operations, maintenance, system expansion, and billing and collection.

Water User Associations (WUAs) are federated organizations encompassing a group of villages and led by elected bodies. WUAs have the status of Economic Interest Groups (EIG), which allows them to liaise with financial institutions and perform management acts on behalf of their members. WUAs have concession contracts with Société d’Aménagement des Espaces du Delta et de la Falémé (SAED) that set out the responsibilities of the parties. WUAs are generally responsible for maintaining irrigation and drainage networks and equipment, and developing a plan to ensure compliance with crop intensity standards set by SAED. SAED is responsible for helping the WUAs develop, equip, and rehabilitate the area and technical supervision and training of farmers in the new techniques, financial and accounting management, and environmental protection. As of 2006, SAED had transferred management of irrigation for 16,000 hectares of land in 25 irrigated areas to the management of 22 WUAs. Governing bodies of WUAs are often dominated by village elites and major political parties who use the association as a means to future their individual purposes, limiting the representative nature of the bodies.

With the support of NGOs and international remittances, village residents in some areas have formed separate associations to manage irrigated land and water resources, adopting their own informal water fee systems.

Urban Sub-sector

In the urban areas, the institutions involved with water include the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources; Ministry of Economy and Finance, that oversees water and sanitation programs and projects financed by the Government and mobilizes finance; the Higher Water Council (including its Water Technical Committee), which sets policy; SONES, the asset holder which holds the concession for urban water resources; and SDE, a private company that manages the urban water service. The Government also created the National Office of Urban Sanitation (ONAS) as an autonomous public agency in charge of operating and managing sewer networks and drainage.

SONES is responsible for managing sector assets, planning and financing investments, and for economic and quality of service regulation. The lease contract with SDE included time-bound performance targets to ensure that the private operator had an incentive to produce at an optimal capacity while reducing losses and improving collection.

The Government created layers of contracts among the sector institutions, which set out the respective rights and obligations of each. Specifically:

  • A 30 year concession contract was signed between the ministry and asset-holding company that authorized the latter to manage the sector;
  • A sector development contract between the ministry and asset-holding company, which outlines the investment obligation of the latter;
  • A 10-year affermage contract between all three actors, governed operation of the system; and,
  • A 10-year performance contract between the asset-holding company and the private operator outlined specific responsibilities.

The design of the affermage contract recognized the need to allocate sufficient, specific resources to finance increased access to piped water supply for the poor. As a result, a national fund was created to allow the private operator to subsidize “social connections.” It aimed at providing improved services to the poor for a lower price. Social connections were free, while a connection fee was charged for ordinary connections aimed at wealthier households. SDE and SONES worked through a large NGO to identify the need for social connections.

Sanitation falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Prevention, Public Hygiene and Sanitation and its Sanitation Department (DAS), in charge of defining sectoral and rate strategies and policies, and identifying and implementing sanitation programs. The National Sanitation Agency of Senegal (ONAS), a public commercial entity is in charge of collecting, treating, recycling and evacuating both wastewater and storm water in urban and peri-urban areas.

Rural Sub-sector

In the rural areas, the water is under the Water Directorate (DHY), the Operation and Maintenance Directorate (DEM), and the Water Resources Management and Planning Directorate (DGPRE) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources. DHY handles programming and implementation of new works, while DEM guarantees the proper operation and maintenance of motorized rural boreholes. The mission of the DGPRE is to plan the use of water resources and monitor the quality of water.

In rural areas, the sanitation sub-sector is organized around the Ministry of Prevention, Public Hygiene and Sanitation (MPHPA). The MPHPA set up regional sanitation divisions. Rural Communities and local authorities also play a role in the sanitation sector, in the form of decentralized cooperation and in collaboration with the NGOs or government services. Government and donor funding is required for rural water supply and sanitation to scale-up the ASUFOR model. As for sanitation financing, ONAS plans to institute a new sanitation pricing system in order to improve sub-sector cost recovery, but continued government subsidies and donor support of sanitation access projects are necessary to meet the MDGs.

Government Reforms and Interventions

The restructuring of Senegal’s water sector and development of the public-private partnership between the GOS and SONES/SDE is considered one of the most significant privatization successes on the African continent. The restructuring of the sector resulted in a significant improvement in the distribution of water and the quality of water received, and the majority of the benefits, which are estimated at US $437 million, have been realized by consumers at all level of society. The significant achievement is attributed to a solid design that included consultation with all stakeholders, selection of appropriate regulatory principles, and use of a contract suited to the goals. The incentive structure applied in the contract between SONES and SDE is credited with the high level of achievement. Under the contract, the bulk of the water is paid at bid price, but at the margin SDE is either compensated or penalized at the full tariff rate, which is approximately twice as high. The contract set very high targets and provided a large incentive to achieve the targets – with a very impressive result.

The 5-year (2010–2015) US $57 million Millennium Water and Sanitation Programme (PEPAM) is designed to provide 2.3 million rural residents with reliable access to drinking water, focusing on the areas of the Senegal River Basin (regions of Saint-Louis and Matam and the district of Bakel) where residents currently use untreated surface water sources for drinking. In the urban sector, the program plans to increase the connection rate in urban areas that are currently underserved.

Country Profile: Water Sector Coordination

See Sector coordination sub-page for detailed description

Country Profile: Trends in Water Use, Management and Sanitation

The Government of Senegal began reforming its water supply and sanitation (WSS) sector in 1996 and since then it has made substantial improvements in coverage and sector organization. As such, Senegal is on track to meet its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets by 2015. The key attributes of the reform program included ensuring autonomy of the management and a rational organization of the sector, supporting improvements in commercial management and cost effectiveness, and establishing a new rate policy for improving cost recovery and reaching financial equilibrium of the urban water sub-sector in the medium-term. The urban water sector did in fact reach financial equilibrium at the end of 2003.

In 2005 Senegal developed a programmatic approach to coordinate water supply and sanitation (WSS) stakeholders called Programme d’eau potable et d’assainissement du millénaire (PEPAM) or Millennium Water and Sanitation Program. PEPAM has been instrumental in setting Senegal’s progressive WSS sector policy and an investment program that appears sufficient to meet MDG targets in urban and rural water access. The next challenge for Senegal is to expand PEPAM to the sanitation and rural sub-sectors.

As part of the reform, state asset holding company, Société Nationale des Eaux du Senegal (SONES) was created, and operations were contracted out in 1996 to a private operating company, Sénégalaise des Eaux (SDE), under a 10-year enhanced lease agreement. The institutional reform has improved the overall management of the sector in terms of quality of service delivery, efficiency of operations and cost recovery. The Senegal case is regarded as a model of public-private partnership in sub-Saharan Africa and was replicated in Niger in 2001.

While the urban water outlook is generally positive, further progress is possible in the rural sector and in sanitation. The rural water supply reform effort (REGIFOR) and the Management Reform Projects of Rural Boreholes (ASUFOR-funded by AfDB) have both helped to increase rural access. In contrast, the sanitation sub-sector is behind in urban areas and still inadequate in rural areas.

The Urban Sub-sector

The urban water sector covers 56 urban centers. Almost all are served through private connections and standpipes. In rural areas, 64 percent of the population has reasonable access to clean water through 2,500 boreholes and 4,600 modern wells. The city of Dakar which represents 75 percent of the urban water activity is mostly supplied with water drawn from aquifers that run the risk of being over-exploited and contaminated by salt-water intrusion.

Senegal’s urban sub-sector has benefited the greatest from sector reforms since 1996. As the private operator of urban water systems, SDE has successfully recovered the cost of operation and maintenance (O&M) since 2003, expanded coverage to the point of meeting the MDG goal for urban water access, and has had its initial ten-year lease contract extended to 2011. Going forward, the challenge for Senegal is to continue to strengthen its public-private partnerships (PPPs), like with SDE, while making water safer and balancing pro-poor access policies with expansion into peri-urban areas. Additionally, improving services by increasing the number of household connections and eliminating standpipes in urban and peri-urban areas will further help the poor since water by volume can be as much as four times more expensive than through an individual house connection.

Conventional sewerage is neither technically nor economically feasible in most parts of urban cities. In Senegal, on-site sanitation has traditionally not been considered as an acceptable alternative to sewerage. Yet, expansion of sanitation coverage needs to be better incorporated with poverty reduction strategies and demand-based sanitation services, including on-site sanitation, must be expanded, together with hygiene education, participation of small-scale contractors, and development of management capacity at the community level.

A sanitation surcharge of US$0.10/m3 is levied for the National Office of Urban Sanitation (ONAS, the sanitation utility) on water customers. However, revenues generated by this surcharge are insufficient to finance ONAS operations. Currently, water rates and fees devoted to financing ONAS only cover 65 percent of its revenue requirement. Expanding sanitation in urban areas will require significant mobilization of government and donor funding. Achieving financial sustainability of ONAS and finding means to devote resources for on-site sanitation remains a major challenge for the sub-sector.

The Rural Sub-sector

In the rural areas, the implementation of the PEPAM is based on a unified framework for action, institutional reforms, and sustainable financing systems. Drinking water is supplied to rural communities mainly through village or multi-village water supply systems, a pipeline for the supply of water to the Dakar region but which supplies rural localities located along the line; modern wells, equipped or otherwise; and boreholes with hand pumps.

Senegal’s rural sub-sector provides the most opportunities for the government to implement a second round of WSS service expansion based on the PEPAM. In fact, WSS service expansion and improvement in management capacity has already begun. Under reforms instituted by REGIFOR and using the ASUFOR model, communities are pricing water by volume and contracting out maintenance of boreholes to the private sector. To ensure progress is maintained, borehole committee management requires training. More capable committees will work with government to implement system improvements more as government distributions and donor funding become available.

Finally, sanitation functions will not improve in time to meet MDG targets if the implementation of sanitation policies and considerable coordination between ONAS and local service providers is not acted on quickly. Reforms should include decentralization of planning, resource allocation, and supporting the newly created Ministry of Sanitation as its leadership role develops. Addressing the financing gap for rural sanitation is needed as well as further opening up sanitation operating functions to the private sector.

Country Profile: Challenges and Opportunities

Donor Interventions

Senegal has had significant involvement in the WSS sector under two notable multi-donor projects led by The World Bank’s Water Sector Project (1996-2004) and the Long-Term Water Project (2002-2007). The World Bank has also developed an output-based aid scheme for the rural areas. These projects and the programs they created have been instrumental in reforming Senegal’s water sector. Senegal’s M&E framework could use improvement since it does not capture progress sector-wide.

Although the base of donors is quite broad in Senegal’s WSS sector, the key donors include the World Bank, the Water and Sanitation Program, the African Development Bank, Belgium, France, and Germany’s KfW.

The World Bank-supported Agricultural Markets Development Programme for Senegal (Programme de Développement des Marchés Agricoles au Sénégal, PDMAS) is a 10-year project that began in 2005 with the goal of increasing non-traditional agricultural exports from the 2005 level of 13,000 tons to 50,000 tons, and doubling participant producer revenues by the end of the program in 2015. The program includes a component focusing on irrigation, specifically: (1) restructuring the irrigation system in the Niayes areas with an independent water supply and management system; and (2) expansion of successful small-scale irrigation models. As of June 2009, a total of 568 hectares of improved irrigated schemes have been developed out of a 2015 target of 2500 hectares.

The 5-year US $540 million compact between MCC and the government of Senegal includes US $170 million for the Irrigation and Water Resources Management Project. The project is designed to improve the productivity of the agricultural sector by extending and improving the quality of the irrigation system in the Senegal River Valley. MCC plans to work with the government to develop up to 10,500 hectares of additional irrigated land by increasing the volume of irrigation water and preventing the abandonment of 26,000 hectares of existing irrigable land by rehabilitating drainage canals and providing secure land tenure for farmers, with particular attention to poor women farmers, landless herders, and landless agricultural laborers.

AfDB’s Local Small-scale Irrigation Support Project is working in 87 rural communities in the regions of Fatick, Kolda, and Tambacounda. The project is developing a planned 120 small structures and facilities (micro-dams, sills, deepening of ponds, bottomlands, micro-irrigated areas) to control surface water runoff, and is working to regenerate 2000 hectares of degraded land. GTZ has helped supply drinking water to all participating communities in GTZ’s 11-year (2004–2015) Support for Decentralization and Local Development project.


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Projects and Case Studies

Projects in or about Senegal

(this is a list of the 15 most recently updated entries. To see all projects click here)

  1. Project for access to drinking water and sanitation in Mar Lothie and Mar Soulou, Senegal ‎(1,425 views) . . Jana Jozefini
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  7. Water Supply Project for the households in the GIE Yery ‎(1,000 views) . . Jana Jozefini
  8. Project for water in households in the GIE BOKK JOM OF KELEMBELY ‎(1,019 views) . . Jana Jozefini
  9. Project to improve the living conditions of the population in the suburbs of the commune Diourbel ‎(1,251 views) . . Jana Jozefini
  10. Project for water supply in households in the GIE Book Diom and Ligueye de Ndiengue ‎(1,264 views) . . Jana Jozefini
  11. Project to combat the proliferation of fecal peril and poverty by access to drinking water and sanitation in Niodir ‎(1,747 views) . . Jana Jozefini
  12. Project for water supply in households in the GIE Wakeur Mame Diarra Bousso Keur of Ndiokho Fall ‎(1,043 views) . . Jana Jozefini
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  14. Project for water supply in households in the GIE Mame Diarra BOUSSO ‎(1,238 views) . . Jana Jozefini
  15. Senegal River Basin Water and Environmental Management Project ‎(4,326 views) . . Katy.norman

Case studies in or about Senegal

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5 most recently updated publications on Senegal
  1. The Political Economy of Sanitation: How can we increase investment and improve service for the poor? ‎(909 views) . . Katy.norman
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5 most popular publications on Senegal
  1. Dams and Large Scale Irrigation on the Senegal River. Impacts on Man and the Environment ‎(3,235 views) . . WikiBot
  2. Decentralized Managment of Irrigation Areas in the Sahel : Water User Associations in the Senegal River Valley ‎(1,896 views) . . WikiBot
  3. The Senegal River Case ‎(1,665 views) . . WikiBot
  4. Financing On-Site Sanitation for the Poor ‎(1,608 views) . . Katy.norman
  5. The Political Economy of Sanitation: How can we increase investment and improve service for the poor? ‎(909 views) . . Katy.norman

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented publications on Senegal

Who is Who

People working in Senegal
  1. Abdoulaye.ndiaye ‎(3,671 views)

See the complete list of Waterwiki users working in Senegal

Organizations working in Senegal
  1. Organization for the Development of the Senegal River ‎(2,148 views) . . WikiBot

See the complete list of WaterWiki documented organizations in Senegal


See also

External Resources

"Water Supply and Sanitation in Senegal" on Wikipedia



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