Senegal prepares to offer food aid to millions

Senegal prepares to offer food aid to millions.
Senegal prepares to offer food aid to millions.
Image: Gino Santa Maria/123RF

Senegal is making contingency plans to offer food aid to millions of people, a government notice published on Wednesday said, amid speculation as to whether coronavirus restrictions will tighten.

The government plans to purchase tonnes of rice, pasta, sugar and cooking oil in order to help some of the country's poorest, according to a public tender published in local newspapers.

Senegal is one of West Africa's economic bright spots, but nearly 40 percent of its roughly 16 million inhabitants live on less than $1.90 a day, according to the World Bank.

It is also one of the countries in the region worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The former French colony has recorded 190 cases to date, and it registered its first death on Tuesday.

Last week, Senegal declared a state of emergency and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in a bid to curb the spread of the virus. It has also shut schools and banned mosque prayers.

Many who work in the country's large informal sector are suffering as more people stay at home, causing sales to plummet.

In a statement accompanying the public tender, the government said around one million vulnerable households -- corresponding to around eight million people -- would be eligible for the aid.

The state is seeking offers for 5,000 tonnes of uncut rice, 500 tonnes of sugar, 10,000 litres of cooking oil and 1,000 tonnes of pasta.

It is also seeking to purchase thousands of packets of soap.

Senegal's parliament votes Wednesday on a law that would allow President Macky Sall to order further anti-virus measures.

But as in other poor African countries, there are fears that ordering people to stay home in Senegal would be economically unworkable.

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