Senegal: Filling Stomachs, Feeding Minds
The children attending the Agnan Lidoube elementary school in northeast Senegal were considered the more fortunate ones. Although many of the students went to school hungry, at least they had an opportunity to attend school.
Senegal’s province of Matam, which borders with Mauritania, is neither easy to get to nor easy to live in. Since most families survived by herding goats, cows and other animals, education was a lower priority.
More than 77 percent of Senegal’s labor force works in agriculture and this can certainly be seen in Matam. Farming there is incredibly difficult. Its arid terrain and erratic climate often force local farmers to move from place to place in search of grazing pastures for their livestock.
Malnutrition is a constant challenge in Matam.
“Matam is one of the biggest areas of Senegal and we have the highest acute malnutrition rates in the country,” says Medoune Diop, Counterpart’s Deputy Country Director in Senegal.
This tendency to move around, along with poverty and high malnutrition, has had a very negative impact on school enrollment.
That has changed. Now the children at Agnan Lidoube elementary school are no longer hungry – and many more have joined them – thanks to a special program funded by the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) and implemented by Counterpart that has changed the face of education for tens of thousands of kids in the region.