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Usually seen as a haven of stability in volatile west Africa, Senegal was rocked by a week of clashes between opposition supporters and p...


Usually seen as a haven of stability in volatile west Africa, Senegal was rocked by a week of clashes between opposition supporters and police in early March.

At least five people were killed in the unrest, sparked by the arrest of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko, a government critic popular with Senegalese youths. But many argue that anger also boiled over because of deepening poverty in the nation of 16 million people, especially among the young.

“Senegalese people are fed up because they’re hungry,” said Gorra Sarr, 42, who sells colourful handmade bags at a craft market in the capital Dakar. “It’s not easy, but we survive.”

Senegal’s economy was growing before the pandemic, with its GDP increasing 5.3% in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, despite the IMF forecasting a recovery this year after a slowdown in 2020, coronavirus restrictions have ravaged Senegal’s large informal sector, and growing numbers of people are struggling to make ends meet.

Demba Moussa Dembele, a Senegalese economist, told AFP that he estimated about 2 million people had fallen into poverty since the onset of the coronavirus crisis.

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