Office des Forages Ruraux (OFOR), Senegal

Engendering Utilities Partner Profile

OFOR manages all rural water services in Senegal. The utility has 70 employees, of which 25 percent are women.

Senegal has a more developed water supply and sanitation system than many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, but significant gaps exist between urban and rural water access. While 80 percent of the population has access to basic water services and 50 percent has access to basic sanitation, only 20 percent has access to safe sanitation services. Over the past 25 years the government of Senegal privatized state-owned water utilities in urban and rural areas. In 2014, Dakar-based OFOR assumed management of all rural water services, and began working with private companies—known as FERMIERS—to provide rural drinking water. OFOR restores water infrastructure, evaluates financial needs, and monitors operations to support universal access to water across Senegal. The Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) Act of 2014 opened doors for increased investment in the water sector, and these partnerships are expected to improve access to water for Senegal’s rural population. Engendering Utilities’ work with OFOR will ensure women can capitalize on growing opportunities in Senegal’s water sector.

A complex web of contributing factors prevents women in Senegal from joining the formal workforce, particularly the male-dominated water sector. Education in Senegal is expensive, and poor families often choose to keep boys in school while girls stay home to support household chores. Only 14 percent of girls complete secondary school compared to 26 percent of boys, and only nine percent of girls enroll in tertiary level programs. Within tertiary level programs, less than 30 percent of girls choose to study science or technology related fields. Engendering Utilities is supporting OFOR to consider and respond to factors that reduce women’s workforce participation by building inclusive policies and practices that benefit women, men, and businesses in the water sector.

USAID is supporting OFOR by providing change management coaching and leadership training, conducting a baseline assessment to identify gaps and opportunities for gender equality, and developing a strategic plan that will facilitate OFOR’s gender equality goals. These strategies will support OFOR in its goal of achieving gender equality in its workforce, in line with national gender strategies that aim to achieve parity in leadership and governance of Senegalese public agencies.

Organizational readiness for change is in place at OFOR, and senior leadership has expressed commitment to:

  • Creating and Operationalizing a Gender Strategy that aligns with the Government of Senegal’s gender strategy.
  • Placing Women in Leadership, as only six of the 29 employees in managerial roles at the company are women.
  • Collecting Sex-Disaggregated Data, as the company does not currently collect this information for programmatic or HR-related reporting.

USAID’s Engendering Utilities program works with electricity and water utilities in developing countries to increase economic opportunities for women, improve gender equality, boost business performance, and strengthen the energy and water sectors. Through a customized best practices framework, demand-driven coaching, and a Gender Equity Executive Leadership Program, Engendering Utilities builds the capacity of utility leaders to implement gender equality interventions that increase the professional participation of women and meet their core business goals.

Launched in 2015, the Engendering Utilities program demonstrates USAID’s commitment to promote a path to self-reliance and resilience in developing countries by fostering enterprise-driven innovation, inclusive economic growth, and gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. Engendering Utilities is a key activity under the U.S. Government’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), which aims to reach 50 million women by 2025 through innovative and effective programs.

Date 
Thursday, August 13, 2020 - 1:30am

Last updated: August 13, 2020