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Emergency Community Development Program: Senegal

Access to basic infrastructure for rural communities in Senegal (2015–ongoing)

April 3, 2024
Author: Paula Sevilla Núñez

The Emergency Community Development Program (PUDC) was established in 2015, and it aims to reduce poverty and growing inequalities between regions, notably between urban and rural areas. PUDC has improved rural communities’ access to basic infrastructure, including access to water and energy, through the construction of roads and hydraulic infrastructure. PUDC  promotes the economic activity of rural areas by providing agricultural equipment, capacity building, and financing support to agricultural workers.

While more than half of the population lived in rural areas in the early 2010s, access to basic services such as sanitation was very low in those areas (35.6 percent) compared to cities (62.4 percent). Limited access to water, health, education, and transportation was identified as a challenge in 187 rural communities across eleven of fourteen regions in Senegal.1 The PUDC (Plan D’Urgence de Développement Communautaire) aims to address regional inequalities in the country by improving access to basic infrastructure and promoting economic activity in rural areas. 

PUDC’s key objectives are the following:2

  • Improve the populations’ access to road, hydraulic, and energy infrastructure in addition to agricultural production and processing equipment; 
  • Promote rural entrepreneurship through capacity building on financial services;
  • Facilitate access to agricultural production equipment and financial services to increase the productivity of rural populations; and
  • Develop a geo-referenced monitoring-evaluation-coordination system for the program.

The PUDC increased electrification, built watermills and water towers, and constructed roads in rural areas. To support agricultural production as a source of economic activity for rural populations as well as increase food security, the PUDC included capacity building activities related to modern agricultural production techniques; provision of materials and equipment; and support to the creation of small and medium enterprises, including through access to microfinance. Training to local officials in different ministries, professional associations, and agricultural cooperatives were implemented with a particular focus on women and youth.3


Launched in 2014, Plan Sénégal Émergent (PSE) establishes the fight against inequalities as the main objective for Senegal’s national development goals and policies. The PUDC, launched in 2015, is one of the main programs designed to achieve a visible improvement in people’s lives through the PSE’s axes of structural transformation of the economy, training in economic activities, social protection, and sustainable development.4 It also responds to new legislation intended to secure greater decentralization of services, including the Decentralization Act III passed in 2013 to reorganize the Senegalese territory.5

Phase I of the PUDC ran from 2015 to 2018 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Strategic guidance and planning was the responsibility of a steering committee, which was co-chaired by representatives of the Prime Minister, President, and the UNDP Resident Representative, and included a maximum of ten additional representatives of relevant ministries (including finance, energy, infrastructure, and decentralization), local governments, and UNDP. The implementation was supervised by a Unité de Gestion du Programme (Program Management Unit) under UNDP, which was made up of a program coordinator and relevant experts (such as civil engineers and evaluators).6

The second phase, originally envisioned for 2018–2022 with support from the African Development Bank, experienced interruptions in implementation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and therefore extended till 31 December 2024.7


Phase I of the PUDC totalled to just under USD 200 million between 2015 and 2018. For the second phase between 2018 and 2022, the budget was calculated at CFA 300,462 billion (about USD 489 million),8 EUR 60 million (USD 70.8 million) of which was committed by the African Development Bank.9 Additional funds were provided by the Islamic Development Bank and the Saudi Fund for Development.  


The first phase of PUDC successfully provided steady access to drinkable water to 1,018 villages (a total population of 318,438), and electricity to more than 20,800 households (88,000 people). The construction of 618 kilometers of roads improved the connectivity of 812 localities (a total population of 531,775 people), and 1,942 villages received agricultural equipment.10 The implementation of the PUDC has since then been used as a model for similar projects by UNDP in other West and Central African countries.11

Despite interruptions due to COVID-19, the second phase of PUDC has resulted in some improvements. The number of people with access to markets within one hour increased from 27,600 to 45,000,12 and the number of people with access to electricity, sanitation and water has increased by 155,000, 180,000, and 400,000 (of which 85,000 and 90,000 and 190,000 are women), respectively.13 It is calculated that the second phase has created 3,000 direct jobs and 17,000 indirect jobs (of which 1,500 and 7,000 are women, respectively), and 1,500 people have received training in local administration and program management.14

Since the launch of the PSE and its flagship programs, Senegal has experienced a general decrease in inequalitiesits Gini coefficient lowering from 40.3 percent in 2011 to 35.1 percent in 2019. It has also seen an improvement in the quality of life in rural areas, as the poverty rate in rural areas decreased from 58.7 percent in 2011 to 53.6 percent in 2019. Regional inequalities, however, remain. For example, access to sanitation in rural areas improved by fourteen percentage points between 2015 and 2020 compared to 11 percentage points in urban areas, but the level of access is still considerably lower (50.7 percent compared to 74 percent).15 While it contributed to these efforts, it is unclear how much of the improvement can be directly attributed to the PUDC alone.  

PUDC has also run into issues of risk management and resource mobilization. It has been criticized, among other issues, for long delays in the payment of contractors.16

“River port in Ziguinchor, South Senegal, West Africa, “©Adobe Stock/Sergey