Senegal launches food aid program for 1 mln families affected by COVID-19

Senegalese women sort through peanuts on February 23, 2013 in Dinguiraye, central Senegal. Peanuts is the main product grown in Senegal by at least 60% of the population, and is used principally in food. High walls protect a Chinese peanut warehouse Dinguiraye, where the product "becomes gold" to farmers who sell it at a higher price with the arrival of the Chinese, but the local millers, shunned by farmers speak of "unfair competition." AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU (Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)
Senegalese women sort through peanuts on February 23, 2013 in Dinguiraye, central Senegal. AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU (Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

The Senegalese government on Tuesday launched a food aid distribution operation to help 1 million vulnerable households affected by COVID-19.

“We have just launched officially the delivery of food kits. This operation marks the start of operations across the country,” said Minister of Community Development, Social and Territorial Equity Mansour Faye at a launch ceremony in the presence of several beneficiaries as well as local administrative authorities and elected officials in Pikine, a city east to Dakar.

The minister said the distribution of food kits across Senegal is a large-scale operation that involves the whole population, civil society, and politicians.

He explained that this food aid would be distributed to 1 million households, representing around 8 to 10 million Senegalese. Each beneficiary household will obtain a total of 100 kilograms of rice, 10 kilograms of sugar, 10 liters of oil and 18 pieces of soap, which is worth about 66,000 Francs CFA (approximately 109 U.S. dollars).

In Guinaw Rail Sud, a town in Pikine, where the food distribution debuted on Tuesday, some 3,207 households have picked up this food aid from the Senegalese government.

Senegalese president Macky Sall announced in March the creation of a Response and Solidarity Fund to deal with the impact of COVID-19, which would be endowed with 1,000 billion FCFA (approximately 1.6 billion U.S. dollars), funded by the state and donors.

According to the Senegalese head of state, some 50 billion FCFA will be devoted to the purchase of food for emergency food aid. About 900 trucks are mobilized to transport 38,755 tonnes of rice across the country.

So far, Senegal has reported 823 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 9 deaths and 296 cured cases, since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country on March 2.

Senegal has suspended since March 20 all of its international flights, while the state of emergency and the dusk-to-dawn curfew have both been extended to May 4.

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