In Senegal, the village of Ndouff rises from its own ashes

African Risk Capacity Group
6 min readOct 9, 2020


In November 2019, the Government of Senegal and the ARC Replica partner, StartNetwork, qualified for an ARC insurance payout following the drought conditions that prevailed during the agricultural season. A total amount of 23.1 million USD was disbursed by ARC Ltd, the financial affiliate of the African Risk Capacity Group, to the Government of Senegal (12.5 million USD) and StartNetwork (10.6 million).
Today, with StartNetwork, a team from ARC travelled to the village of Ndouff, located at 70 km from Dakar, the Senegalese capital, to interact with the community on the benefits and impacts of the payout in their lives.

It is noon. Sun rays pierce through the clouds. The almost stifling heat reminds us that we are in the middle of summer. Ndouff is a village like many in Senegal. The sounds of children’s laughter as they played in the sandy streets contrast with the calm faces of the village elders gathered in the village square.

Children playing in the sandy streets. ARC/Simon Pierre Diouf

This typical village of Senegal is located in the region of Thiès. Its population mainly engages in rain-fed agriculture, with millet, maize and beans as the staple crops and relies heavily on the frequency of rains to have a good harvest. Some of this is used to feed families and the rest is sold in markets.

A year ago, the situation of the village was very complicated. Due to the bad 2019/2020 agricultural season, the populations of Ndouff became food insecure. The extreme weather conditions that prevailed in the village had destroyed all hopes among people, forcing them to survive on the meagre resources at their disposal. The COVID-19 pandemic at the beginning of the year also reinforced the hopelessness among communities.

However, thanks to the payout obtained, StartNetwork, in collaboration with its partner PLAN International, was able to assist vulnerable populations. In Ndouff, as in several villages in Senegal, more than 350,000 people have benefited from food distributions, cash transfers and nutritional supplement for children under five, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Ndella Ndiaye, 26 years old

Ndella Ndiaye and her daughter Fatou Thiaw. ARC/Simon Pierre Diouf

With a smile on her face, this mother of two children, Ndeye Yama Thiaw (6 years old) and Fatou Thiaw (1-year-old), welcomes us in her house. We immediately see on her face that she is very eager to introduce us to her daughter Fatou, who has received supplementary feeding composed of enriched flour.

“This flour has changed my life and that of my child. With the 3 kg of enriched flour that I received, I was able to feed my daughter regularly, which was not the case before. A few months ago, she weighed just 7 kg but within a month after she started eating the porridge made from the flour, she now weighs 8 kg,” says Ndella.

“Since my daughter began to eat the porridge, I have also noticed that she is growing fast and she is more cheerful than before,” she adds.

Ndella now has more time to take care of herself and go about her household chores. She no longer lives in constant fear of seeing her child sick.

Ndella Ndiaye doing her laundry. ARC/Simon Pierre Diouf

“When I see my little girl, I am relieved and happy that she is in good health. I can now take care of myself, which was very difficult for me a few months ago. Our life has really changed,” she concludes.

Mame Diarra Sène, 22 years old

Mame Diarra Sène and her son Serigne Fallou Diouf. ARC/Simon Pierre Diouf

Mame Diarra is Ndella’s neighbour. Married and mother of 2 children, Mame Diarra Diouf (2 years old), and Serigne Fallou Diouf (1-year-old), Mame is currently pregnant with her third child.

Mame Diarra is one of the nursing mothers who received enriched flour intended to help with the growth and development of children under 5 years old.

Busy shelling beans harvested from the fields, she declares: “When I didn’t have the flour, I used to cook some porridge with millet and powdered milk. It was good but I didn’t see a difference in my son’s health. Now that he’s eating the flour-based porridge, his weight has increased from 7 kg to 8,500 kg in such a short time.”

Mame Diarra Sène busy shelling beans. ARC/Simon Pierre Diouf

In addition to her son’s improved health, the whole family is now relieved.

“My husband is really grateful for the help we have received. We don’t have a lot of prescriptions to pay anymore because the children’s health has improved a lot. We can now save that money, and this will help us better prepare our future,” declares Mame Diarra, her eyes full of hope.

Ousmane Gning, 60 years old

Ousmane Gning. ARC/Simon Pierre Diouf

Sitting on his red mat, Ousmane holds prayer beads in his hands. In a serious tone, he greets us and seats us on the chairs around him.

A polygamous father of many children, Ousmane has a lot of responsibilities and must provide for his family. This year, he benefitted twice from the cash transfers geared towards the vulnerable populations in Ndouff.

“I used part of the money we received to buy rice, oil and meet daily expenses. I used the other half to repay some debts,” he says.

“The harvest was really poor last year, and we didn’t sell much in the markets. Our pockets were empty, and we didn’t have much hope for the future,” says Ousmane, gazing off into the distance.

Ousmane Gning and his family. ARC/Simon Pierre Diouf

“Now our situation has really improved. I am happy to see that the smiles are back on my family’s faces. We were able to survive the lean season and have enough physical strength to work in the fields,” he concludes.

Ngoné Sène, 60 years old

Ngoné Sène. ARC/Simon Pierre Diouf

Surrounded by her five granddaughters, a radiant smile on her face, Ngoné welcomes us to her house. Dressed in a gown and an orange scarf that she occasionally adjusts over her head, she tells us how the money she received helped her family.

“In addition to last year’s poor harvest, the disease (COVID-19) had ravaged our last hopes. We ran out of money to feed all the family members and that made me really sad and hopeless,” she says, her voice full of emotion.

During the pandemic, all of her children left Dakar to return to the village because there was no more work for them in the capital city. It was thanks to the assistance Ngoné received that the family was able to meet its needs at this difficult time.

“With the help we received, we were able to solve a lot of problems. We bought rice, oil, soap and sugar. My greatest joy was to see the relief on the faces of my children and granddaughters,” she adds.

Sitting on a chair, next to his wife and granddaughters, Ngoné’s husband, Cheikh Diouf, 75 years old, listens attentively to the discussion.

Cheikh Diouf with his wife and their granddaughters. ARC/Simon Pierre Diouf

“I am very proud of my wife. I have full confidence in her because I know she will manage this money wisely. It is thanks to her that we were able to overcome this difficult situation as a family,” he tells us, with great enthusiasm.

With the support of the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, France, The Rockefeller Foundation and the United States, the African Risk Capacity Groups assists AU Member States in reducing the risk of loss and damage caused by extreme weather events affecting Africa’s populations by providing, through sovereign disaster risk insurance, targeted responses to natural disasters in a more timely, cost-effective, objective and transparent manner.

Since 2014, 62 policies have been signed by Member States with US$101.7 million paid in premiums for a cumulative insurance coverage of US$722 million for the protection of 72 million vulnerable population in participating countries.



African Risk Capacity Group

Specialized agency of the African Union providing comprehensive sovereign disaster risk solutions to build capacity, climate resilience & food security.