MCC/Senegal: Reducing Poverty through Country Led Growth
Established in January 2010, MCC’s Resident Country Mission monitors the Senegalese government’s implementation of the USD$540 compact, which entered into force in September 2010 and which will be implemented through September 2015. Read more
The RCD’s Corner
RCD’s note: I asked my Deputy, Randall Wood, an old-hand at development and an engineer and writer by trade, to provide the new entry for the RCD Corner. I didn’t know he had it in him to be excited, but below he takes you on a journey through our project zones and describes the exciting progress being made as we begin year 3 in implementing $540 million worth of large scale infrastructure projects. Thanks Randy for the descriptive journey and happy reading!
The MCC Compact with Senegal is entering its third year of implementation, and signs of progress are everywhere. Come have a look around with us.
Our first stop is the agricultural basin of Ngallenka, located just outside of Podor, in Senegal’s Sahelian north. Ngallenka is just one of five “cuvettes” (small agricultural basins) that Senegal’s 1998 master plan identified as pilot projects to expand the means of agricultural production to the rural poor. Formerly rain fed agricultural space, with all the seasonality and unreliability that entails, the Ngallenka project zone will soon boast over 400 hectares of pumps, channels, and flowing water that will permit the steady production of Senegalese rice and vegetables over multiple seasons. How soon? In just about two years. US Ambassador Lewis Lukens was on site the 18th of November to celebrate the groundbreaking, and work has progressed steadily since then. MCC is financing the design and construction of Ngallenka’s irrigation scheme; the detailed designs for irrigation infrastructure in the remaining cuvettes, also financed by MCC, have been delivered to the Ministry of Agriculture, where the government and its other partners can make their construction a reality. The Ngallenka project is a pilot project intended to show the feasibility and practicality of developing these small farming “cores” to help combat rural poverty. On hand for the groundbreaking were hundreds and hundreds of local families, ready to do their part to make the project a success.
MCC is just weeks away from finalizing selection of contractors for the much bigger and more extensive Delta Activity within the Compact’s Irrigation and Water Resources Management Project. Spanning from Richard Toll to nearly Saint Louis, the Delta region is Senegal’s rice production heartland, where tens of thousands of hectares of existing rice fields risk abandonment due to the detrimental effects of soil salinization and thousands of other hectares remain unproductive due to lack of water. The Delta project will address both those needs, bringing both greater quantity and better quality irrigation water across the delta plain, permitting Senegalese rice farmers to produce five times their current harvest. The Delta project is an intensive earthworks project involving the cutting of several enormous canals and the rerouting of existing water flows across new fields. A world class team of hydraulic engineers has been developing the design and finalizing the plans since 2010. Expect to see the shovels flying in January 2013.
Our next stop is the site of the future Ndioum Bridge, which will link the Ile de Morphile with the rest of Senegal by late 2014. The crowds were ecstatic as Ambassador Lukens presided over the groundbreaking ceremony with Senegal’s Prime Minister. And why shouldn’t they be? They’ve waited at least fifty years to see their homes and farms connected to the mainland by way of a proper bridge. Soon they will enjoy easier access to schools, hospitals, and markets: no more struggling to find a pirogue to cross the river! The Ndioum bridge is the capstone to MCC’s investment in the RN2 roadway, 128 km of road linking Ndioum to Richard Toll. The existing roadway, narrow, rapidly degrading, and in dramatic need of an upgrade, will soon conform to ECOWAS standards and boast two lanes, real shoulders, space for bus stops, and safety features in market areas. The contractor for the RN2 has just been selected, and road rehabilitation will begin in January, 2013.
An even more extensive road project will begin just after the RN2 begins: the 260 km RN6 roadway that traverses the heart of the Casamance from Ziguinchor to Velingara. We’re calling it road rehabilitation but the existing road is little more than a dirt track in so many places it’s practically new road construction. The feasibility studies were concluded in 2012 and the works contractors are in the final phase of being selected. Expect to see multiple sections of road “go under the knife” in early 2013 as well as the bridge in Kolda, as this vital roadway is upgraded to ECOWAS standards. The lovely Casamance region is a breadbasket of unexploited potential, with fertile soils, even rainfall, and lots of sun. When MCC completes the RN6 the farmers and producers of the Casamance will have unprecedented access to markets and services, and the rest of Senegal (not to mention neighboring countries) will enjoy the taste of Casamance’s famous fruit and vegetables.
MCC is proud to be at the point where so much activity on the ground gives us an opportunity to show what we’ve been working on so hard for the past two years. And by “we” we mean both MCA-Senegal and partners, and MCC’s technical team. MCA-Senegal and the government of Senegal have worked hard to get to this point, and are as proud as we are to show the advances we’ve made. This is no time to rest though: the really hard work begins now! Stay tuned for our next update when we’ll have some interesting action shots of the construction areas. Yes, we’re excited, but so are the estimated 1.66M people (138K families) who expect to benefit directly or indirectly from the USG’s $540M investment in Senegal.