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Almost Universal Access to Water in Urban Senegal

Last Updated: March 2007
IDA at Work: Water - 98 Percent of the Population Has Access to Safe Water in Urban Senegal


In 1995, more than half of Senegal’s population lived in urban areas, primarily in the capital, Dakar. In Dakar, water shortages were chronic, leaks persistent, sanitation barely existed in poor peripheral neighborhoods, and only 58 percent of the population had access through household connections to safe, piped water. In urban areas overall, that figure was 40 percent.


- The project approached long-term development of the sector: increasing the water supply and supporting the emergence of an economically viable water company capable of recovering costs, collecting tariffs, and providing affordable water and sanitation services to the population - without depending on government subsidies.
- The project also aimed to provide affordable services to economically marginalized communities.
- Central to the transformation strategy was a new role for the private sector, managing urban water supply operations on behalf of the state and meeting certain performance requirements.


About 1.6 million people living in cities gained access to safe water. Senegal’s level of connection to urban water services is now the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.

- 140,000 new connections at subsidized rates for poor families, plus 400 public standpipes. These alone translate into safe water supply for about 1.6 million people who were previously without reliable access.
- Household connections reached 76 percent in 2006, the highest rate in sub-Saharan Africa, thanks to the establishment of a subsidized social connections program for poor neighborhoods in Dakar and secondary urban centers, a government program supported by IDA.
- Global access to water services (including access at public fountains) rose from about 74 - 81 percent in 1996 to about 98 percent of people living in cities in 2006.
- Water losses, mostly from leakages, dropped to less than 20 percent in 2006, from 32 percent in 1996. The decline translates to a savings equal to the water needs of 930,000 people.
- Sanitation improved in urban areas, with an additional 830,000 people gaining access to sewerage connections or on-site sanitation.
- Tariff collection reached a rate of 98 percent, up from less than 80 percent before the project. As a result, tariff increases for consumers were kept to an annual average of 3 percent, the same as the rate of inflation.
- Water-borne diseases and childhood diarrhea declined. Wastewater disposal has translated into additional health benefits, and some positive behavioral changes in affected neighborhoods. Malaria, which takes an enormous toll in West Africa, hits children disproportionately. Through improved water management and sanitation, it is estimated that malaria in these areas will fall by 20 percent.
- The sector’s successful turnaround attracted major financing from other donors and investments from commercial banks.
- A follow-up project launched in 2001 continues to meet long-term water-supply needs of Dakar, but with more emphasis on improving water services in secondary cities and expanding sanitation services as well.


- Total project cost for Senegal Water Project (including sanitation) was US$290 million for which IDA provided US$100 million. Successful implementation helped to attract substantial additional funds from donors and commercial banks. IDA provided another US$125 million equivalent under the follow-up Long Term Water Sector Project.
- IDA played a convening role and served as a catalyst for the adoption of innovative practices and policies. Technical assistance made it possible to shift to a public-private partnership, with a state holding company running the water and sanitation service, while contracting out operational responsibility to a private firm in which government held a stake. Bank support helped to ensure fulfillment of contractual and regulatory obligations. Close monitoring of procurement decisions helped keep costs down, and contributed to affordable tariffs.


Both projects attracted substantial co-financing from international donors including the African Development Bank, European Investment Bank, France, Germany, the Nordic Development Fund, the West African Development Bank (BOAD) and commercial banks in Senegal.

Next Steps

In addition to sustaining the achievements in urban areas, access to water needs to be expanded in rural areas. While close to 100 percent of Senegal’s urban population now have access to safe water, only 62 percent of those living in rural areas do, and only 17 percent of the rural population have access to improved sanitation. To achieve the Millennium Development Goals in Senegal, more than 3 million rural people would need to gain access to safe water and sanitation.

Learn More

Water Sector Project (1995-2004)
Project documents

Long Term Water Sector Project (2001-07)
Project documents

For more information, please visit the Projects website.

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