Senegal – Land, climate, energy, agriculture and development

2021 | A. Faye | M. Dièye | P.B. Diakhaté | A. Bèye | M. Sall | M. Diop

A study in the Sudano-Sahel Initiative for Regional Development, Jobs, and Food Security

Published as ZEF Working Paper 202. Read the full working paper here.


Located in West Africa, Senegal is classified as a least-developed country that has historically had political stability and slow economic growth compared to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). However, from 2012 onward, a new government has adopted new policies (infrastructure investments, liberalization of the groundnut sector and opening of the energy sector) to enhance economic growth and governance. Senegal thus experienced significant improvements in the period from 2012 to 2015. Future economic growth in Senegal can be significantly shaped by the energy sector regarding the recent oil and gas discoveries if the common resource curse can be avoided.

The country thus faces many challenges that threaten its economic growth: climate change and ensuring the accessibility and affordability of energy and land, which are key inputs to the main sectors of the economy such as agriculture. This report aims at investigating these interlinked challenges
through a critical literature review. Results show that concerning land, its use and cover have hardly evolved over the past, except for agricultural land, which has significantly evolved from 1975 to 2013. However, the land has degraded a lot in the past several decades with up to 63-67 percent of the arable land being subject to land degradation due to climate hazards and its uses (e.g. population growth, Agro-sylvo-pastoral practices, wind and water erosion, salinization, bush fires…). Land degradation has multiple consequences, as it impacts livelihoods by limiting the availability of vital ecosystem services, increases the risk of poverty and translates into economic losses. Land degradation is estimated to cost 9 percent of the GDP annually (996 million USD).

The evaluation of key policies, the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution for climate governance, the PRACAS (for agriculture and food security) and land-use policies highlights the main factors for success and failure and identifies key challenges that the government of Senegal needs to pay close attention to in order to ensure greater policy design and implementation success in the future. The main challenges are related to governance, funding and monitoring and evaluation. In terms of governance, it is important to ensure the participatory design and implementation of the policies to foster stakeholders’ ownership and thus facilitate their implication. As for funding, the key is to avoid building policy objectives based on unsecured funding by making realistic plans based on  already secured funding (if possible, from the national budget). Finally, in terms of monitoring and evaluation, it is key to ensure the sustained availability of good-quality statistical data to allow better targeting of areas in which to intervene, better allocation of financial resources and better assessment of gaps, progress, and impact.