Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Conditions at Artisanal Seafood Processing Sites in Senegal: Technical Learning Note
Safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services are essential for household health and equally critical for food businesses to reduce the incidence and transmission of foodborne diseases. The economic and health benefits of investing in water and sanitation are considerable. The estimated return on investment for every dollar spent is $4.3 USD — a gain achieved by reducing health care costs and improving workplace productivity. Investing in WASH also saves lives — diarrhea kills over 2,000 children per day globally — most preventable through improved WASH conditions. In Senegal alone, more than 40,000 deaths could be prevented annually through adequate WASH infrastructure and practice.
Despite infrastructure, policy and economic reform to achieve Senegal’s sustainable development goals for water and sanitation, rural areas continue to face grave obstacles. As of 2010, only 56% of rural households had access to safe drinking water (compared with 93% of urban households), and just 39% had access to improved sanitation facilities. Substantial investments over the past decade are
bridging the urban and rural WASH divide, with efforts largely focused on rural households. Growing food businesses (GFBs) based in rural areas also lack adequate access to water and sanitation. Senegal’s artisanal seafood processing sector is a particularly poignant example. Operated primarily by women and producing 80% of the country’s seafood, this marginalized and impoverished sector is at risk of transmitting foodborne pathogens both within and beyond rural areas. Improving WASH services and promoting good hand hygiene practices for GFBs can greatly reduce food contamination during food processing and handling.
Business Drivers for Food Safety (BD4FS), a USAID-funded project implemented by Food Enterprise Solutions (FES), is promoting WASH within growing food businesses (GFBs) for safer food handling and processing. In the Spring of 2020, BD4FS undertook a food safety situational analysis (FSSA) of the artisanal seafood sector in Senegal and identified access to WASH as a critical factor for food safety. To further investigate, BD4FS conducted a follow-on study from July–August 2020 that evaluated past WASH projects, existing conditions and practices at 10 seafood processing sites and business models for sustaining WASH investments.