Medicos del Mundo has been working in Senegal since 2003. Considering this large background in the country, MdM has at its disposal the necessary resources at the logistical level to implement its interventions, as follows:
1. Logistical and material resources: MdM has an office-house in Mermoz, a neighbourhood in the city centre of Dakar in Senegal. The workplace is fully equipped with the necessary material and devices (computers, printers, internet, private offices). It has a kitchen, a bedroom and whatever the volunteer may need to be hosted. Besides, there are 3 vehicles available for interventions in the region. The project has allocated a budgetary item for investments in physical and procedural measures in order to enhance preventive measures.
2. Human resources: MdM technical team is permanently based in Dakar (1 expatriate staff member, the country coordinator, and 17 local staff members) to develop, coordinate and monitor its interventions in the region. Besides, the field team works in close collaboration with a specialized team in the headquarters in Madrid, supporting design, monitoring and evaluation of interventions, among other coordination tasks.
3. Technical and financial local partners in the field: networking is the keystone of MdM intervention strategy in Senegal. Projects are implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Action and its decentralized services (Medical Region of Dakar, health districts, National Centre against AIDS), as well as organizations of civil society (National Alliance for Community Health, Association of Female Jurists, National Network of Key Populations, among others.) At the same time, the organization is in permanent contact with donor representatives and international agencies in Dakar: ECHO, AECID, OCHA, etc.
Senegal is a fairly safe country, although not free of risk. Therefore, it is important to be cautious. Avoid crowded places, especially where foreigners tend to gather, such as some hotels in Dakar frequently visited by foreigners. You are advised to carry with you at all times your passport and a photocopy in case you are requested by Senegalese authorities to identify yourself.
It is important to be aware that same-sex sexual relationships are punishable by imprisonment and/or by a fine.
Taking into account security threats in other countries of the region, related to the crisis in Mali and to international terrorism in general, caution is advisable. The risk level has increased in the northeast region of Senegal (Matam region), bordering Mauritania. As regards Casamance region (between the southern Gambian border and the northern border of Guinea Bissau), the situation linked to violence has worsened since the beginning of 2018. This fact, along with the presence of mines and banditry, threatens safety and security in the area. MdM does not work in this region of the country.
Health risks: it is advisable not to drink tap water but to drink bottled water instead. Likewise, taking ice cubes, salads and uncooked vegetables, unless being certain that they have been washed, should be avoided. It is preferable to eat cooked food.
It is also advisable to take preventive measures for mosquito bites (repellent, mosquito nets, long neutral-colored clothes), as malaria is endemic throughout Senegal, being more virulent during monsoon season (from July to October) and episodes of dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases have been registered.
Natural disasters: most risks are related to heavy rain and floods. Therefore, it is important to be well informed about the weather forecast and the preventive measures to be put in practice in order to reduce the potential effects in MdM infraestructures, where MdM staff works and lives. Trips should also be well planned in terms of safety and security, especially in monsoon season.
Safety and criminality: general recommendations in the country
• Be cautious and vigilant while on a trip
• Travel during the day and preferably in a convoy of vehicles
• Avoid gathering and crowded places (especially worship and sports venues, such as Senegalese wrestling)
It is recommended to be extremely cautious in the big crowds and to avoid isolated areas. Similarly, it is important to be on alert of scams and swindles by people pretending to forge friendship with you, sell you products or work as a guide for you.
You are advised not to wear sumptuous clothes or jewellery and to be cautious with your personal documents (identity card, passport, credit cards, flight tickets as well as cash). Street robberies such as grabbing, which implies force being used to pull the bag from you, have recently been reported in the city centre. Therefore, it is recommended to walk away from the road.
In Dakar it is recommended not to go for a walk or do sports in the areas of Corniche Ouest and never at night. Strolling around Mamelles Hills area should be avoided, since an increase in motor vehicle thefts has been reported.
Due to the bad conditions of some roads and some means of transport, both public or private, road accidents are pretty frequent. Therefore, it is important to be extremely cautious while travelling on road.
Security measures: MdM has its own methodology of risks analysis and security norms which is regularly updated. The security context is constantly monitored and MdM adjusts its interventions according to the context. The volunteer will attend a pre-deployment briefing on the security context both in the headquarters and in the country, as well as in Dakar before starting his/her mission. All the trips the volunteer may have to do will be well planned. Besides, the volunteer along with MdM staff in Senegal is provided with an updated contact list and a means of being reachable.
Security is essential for project implementation. The main tools for security management in the field are the following ones:
1. Logistics and security procedure guidelines and risk analysis matrix. Main hazards are related to health and traffic accidents. However, so far these have not jeopardized the project implementation. Mitigation measures include safe driving measures, putting in practice health best practice in direct care activities and maintaining hygiene practices.
2. Security norms which are mandatory for all MdM staff, including volunteers.
3. Pre-deployment briefings on security for expatriate staff members. Every deployed staff member has his/her own insurance policy, following the volunteering act and humanitarian aid worker act.
Supporting mechanisms are available in the headquarters in Madrid: a 24h emergency telephone number, a security advisor, a gender advisor, a protocol for psychosocial intervention with a volunteer group of rapid psychosocial intervention.