Despite infrastructure, policy, and economic reforms during the last two decades, rural Senegal continues to face grave obstacles to development, especially in water and sanitation. Although Senegal is on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for water, there is a large gap between urban and rural water access. While at least 98 percent of people in urban Senegal have access to safe water, only 62 percent of rural Senegalese do. Access to sanitation in Senegal falls below the MDG target, particularly in rural areas. In 2008, just 38 percent of people in rural Senegal had access to improved sanitation facilities – more than 1.5 million short of the MDG target for sanitation. This has deleterious effects on health in rural areas, as diarrhea is the second leading cause for death of children under 5 and accounts for more than 40,000 preventable deaths a year in Senegal.
In 2009, the existing Water and Development Alliance (WADA), a global public-private partnership between USAID and The Coca-Cola Company, was approached about supporting efforts to improve access to water and sanitation in rural Senegal. Coca-Cola and USAID launched the WADA partnership in 2005 and have jointly invested over $31 million dollars in a wide variety of water sector activities in 24 countries around the world since then. For each WADA country program, USAID and CocaCola together identify specific water sector goals, and develop and implement programs to address the challenges identified. In Senegal, a local partnership relationship between Coca-Cola and USAID needed to be nurtured to identify comparative strengths and priorities of each organization and agree on key areas of alignment that best addressed the needs of the people of Senegal. This involved finding a way to effectively marry CocaCola’s long commitment to increasing access to drinking water with USAID/ Senegal’s commitment to support the Government of Senegal’s objective to increase sanitation coverage.