At the end of the summer, Emilie Barrau succeeded Guillaume Bastard as GRET’s representative in Senegal. Emilie, an urban development expert, has been working with GRET for over 10 years, most recently as head of the “Social policy and civic issues” department. She answers the questions put to her by In touch shortly after taking up her new position.
What are the key issues for development in Senegal?
By fully accepting its cultural diversity, Senegal can boast of having built a culture of democracy, as demonstrated by the second change of government in the country in 2012. It remains a pole of stability in a region racked by conflict. Unfortunately, the country has not experienced the same positive changes in the social and economic domains. Today, Senegal is one of the least advanced countries; it is ranked 155th in the Human Development Index and almost 50 % of the population lives beneath the poverty threshold.
So it is imperative that Senegal encourages the development of sustainable growth, facilitating the reduction of poverty and inequalities. Among the many issues it must deal with, I would highlight:
– the fight against worsening inequalities, particularly in terms of access to services and economic development;
– dealing with a growing number of environmental and climatic shocks;
– large-scale development of prospects for young people (over half the population is under 25!) in terms of education, employment and political & social integration.
How has GRET been contributing to the fight against poverty and inequalities in Senegal for the last 27 years?
Present in Senegal since 1989 and today with a staff of approximately thirty people, GRET has been working almost continuously on access to local public services and the development of agriculture and value chains. More recently it implemented actions in the area of vocational training and social and economic inclusion.
This long-term presence enabled GRET to establish solid partnerships that are the basis of its operational strategy in Senegal. At each stage of the decentralisation process, it contributed to strengthening partner local authorities in their role as drivers of territorial development and project management of collective facilities, as well as State services. It is determined to combat poverty and inequalities by working in close collaboration with civil society stakeholders. It contributed to strengthening the capacities of the latter to act in the field and to build policies: development NGOs, economic operators, research institutes, farming organisations, etc.
What are the main challenges ahead for GRET in Senegal?
In the coming years, with the support of a network of partners and a solid team, in keeping with the priorities of the Emerging Senegal Plan, GRET wants to:
– continue to build on its work in the key sectors of rural development, by supporting inclusive family farming and strengthening its actions in agro-ecology and natural resource management;
– continue its action in the public services domain, particularly by supporting sectoral reforms already underway, strengthening the professionalization of private operators, developing civic awareness of issues relating to public services, the environment and climate change;
– diversify and strengthen its actions in the key areas of social, economic and political insertion of disadvantaged populations – especially young people in rural and urban areas – via innovative projects in the areas of social protection, economic development, vocational training, fostering of civic involvement, etc.
More information on GRET’s activities in Senegal