#Mots-clés : (Urban) Decentralization, Land Grabbing Dernière mise à jour le 7 June 2019




Senegal’s population is about 12 million unevenly distributed over the national territory, and concentrated in the regions of West and Central. (2)


At the level of economic activity, the agricultural sub-sector, characterized by a traditional operating system, occupies 53% of the active population and contributes 20% on average in the GDP, while the secondary and tertiary sectors contribute for 80% of national production with only 47% of assets. (2)

This inequality in the distribution of national income and the critical concentration of existing industries and services in the country in cities lead the exodus of rural populations to cities. (2)


In Senegal, there are three types of habitat (2006) (3):

  • regular-villas-housing buildings (62%)
  • informal settlements (22%)
  • habitat village type (16%)

Nationally, more than one in two households living in a house “low”, that is to say, ground floor, without floors. The story houses and apartments are more rare.


According to a study Africapolis, the Senegalese population was 9.5 million in 2002 and is expected to be 15 million in 2020. (1)

The Senegal already has thirty full-common in 1960. Indeed, a 1957 decree proposed to territorial chiefs the power to create rural communities with a degree of financial independence and representing a legal personality. Decentralization itself is engaged with Law No. 72-02 of February 1, 1972 on the organization of territorial administration experimentally in the Thies region. It is extended to the whole country over the following years. Finally, in 1996, the 96-06 law of 22 March 1996 transformed the regions local authorities. Now Senegal has three types of local authorities: regions, rural communities and municipalities (communes district and town municipalities). (1)

Several official definitions of urban are used in Senegal. For planning services, is urban locality of more than 5,000 inhabitants, while for the DAT (Spatial Planning Department), 2500, gives the urban status. However, the definition includes a demographic criterion default since according to the Code of local authorities in 1996 (Article 79), “can not be incorporated in the common areas with sufficient development to be able to have the own resources necessary to balance their budget. No town can not be recognized if it does not include a bundled population of at least 1,000 people. ” (1)

According to statistics compiled by the site e-geopolis, the urbanization rate was 36% in 1976 and 41% in 2002. (1)


The natural population growth rate (2.9%) and rural exodus have contributed to a surge in urban areas and increased habitat needs. In 2008, 46.8% of Senegalese living in urban areas. This rapid urbanization has led to an increase in informal settlements, often made up of slums which cover 30% of urban areas, particularly in Dakar where the rate is about 45%. (2)

The self-promoting (or social production of habitat) remains the dominant mode of housing production in Senegal and covers about 80% of the urban housing stock. (3)

Urban violence is a reality in some urban neighborhoods whose factors are complex. A study of the FPH, led by Moussa Diop, allows among others to show the links between violence and mounted the country’s uncontrolled urbanization. Indeed, after years of drought, people have moved from rural areas to urban areas to invest without any development policy integrating rural and urban areas is in place. Cities have grown so according uncontrolled Western models creating hostile suburban areas, where people are forced to develop survival skills. Download the file.



The right to housing is not included in the 2001 Senegalese Constitution. Article 15 enshrines the right of ownership for men and women, while Article 16 guarantees the inviolability of the home. Text Constitution. However, according to a report by OMCT to the Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Senegal, there was discrimination against women, victim of customary law in regard to the housing prevents since divorced women to keep their home. Polygamy, a condition that affects nearly 60% of Senegalese women, does not improve the situation when the husband dies, the house is sold and all the widows have to leave the house with their children. (4)

Senegal has signed in 1982 by against the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The right to housing is protected by Articles 14 (right to property), 16 (right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health that the person is able to reach) and 18 (1) (protection for families) of the African Charter. Article 21 recalls that people can not be robbed of their natural resources.

The housing sector is characterized by a legal and regulatory corpus tedious and complex, difficult to access for low-income populations; this will involve a range of institutional actors. A total of 12 central departments of different ministries involved in housing-related processes. The responsibilities surrounding housing are fragmented and spread across multiple branches and departments to logical and often disparate procedures. This largely explains the delays in the proceedings, the explosion of costs and budget overruns, the complexity of the process and therefore the persistence of informal practices and the lack of implementation of laws and regulations. It also promotes opacity and corruption in access to urban land processes. (3)

Cumbersome administrative procedures for the registration of a land law affect the results of the program, leaving the possibility to land disputes to develop broadly.



Originally Senegalese land system is a set of facts and practices called custom. According to customs Serere, Wolof, Diola, … the possession of land by a family group resulted from the first occupation that could materialize in different ways, including the “right light” and “ax right.” A family group delimited by fire a specific territory where he settled OR was clearing an area to exploit it. The “right” of the first occupants was recognized and respected by all, land management is ensured by the master of the earth (lamane) which controlled and distributed for free this land. (3)

It was in 1830 that the first rules of property law appeared in Senegal. A long process of registration of State land was started in 1900 and ended in 1949.
The legal provisions governing land management in Senegal are based on the 64-46 law of 17 June 1964 on land reform and State. This is the reference document for determining the nature, extent, composition and land management arrangements under the National Estate. These National Domain land is classified as follows:
  • urban areas
  • classified areas
  • areas of soils
  • frontier areas

This law states that “the state is the principal administrator of the national land resources including the management method based on the allocation and decommissioning.”

Through the 96-07 law of 22 March 1996 on the transfer of competencies (decentralization) to regions, municipalities and rural communities, local authorities are heavily involved in land management. Local authorities administer land of the National Estate on their territory, in relation to the administrative authority and the relevant state technical services. All these provisions that govern land management have not replaced the customary and informal practices remain a reality in Senegalese cities. This explains the complexity of land management and is the cause of many conflicts. It also enhances the proliferation of shantytowns.

In fact, the State’s capacity to administer the soil is limited and the majority of urban households refer to customary or informal system to access to land.


In Senegal, nearly 30% of arable land available that would have been monopolized (2013). This is what says the NGO ENDA Tiers Monde. So far, land grabbing more concerned national actors (250 000 ha, or 60% of the identified areas) that foreign actors (180,000 ha or 40% of the area). They have been widely encouraged by the programs initiated by the state since 2006. The REVA Plan (Return to Agriculture) GOANA (Great Agricultural Offensive for Food and Abundance). Source: ENDA (5)


  • Homelessness
  • Joungpeople
  • Old people
  • Women


  • COOPERATIVE HOUSING : to promote social housing, the state promotes and supports housing cooperatives. Cooperatives have proved to be an appropriate instrument to facilitate access to parcel and housing for the formal sector, mainly because of lower taxation (recording rate), and the repayment rate of preferential credits the Housing Bank of Senegal (BHS). But the intervention of housing cooperatives is facing, among others, the constraints of access to land, lack of funding and rising construction material costs (VAT, import). The provision of land by the State is another constraint for cooperative housing in Senegal. However, given that the creation of a new cooperative is an obstacle course, retired people close tend to withdraw from the project and adopt irregular channels to become informal owners. In 2012, it is estimated that there are in the territory no less than 740 cooperatives with 300,000 members. (3)
  • PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING : Rufisque Est (a local government district with approximately 50,000 inhabitants) is located south of Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, and launched its PB process in 2009. Provision of basic services has been at the heart of the priorities voted by its inhabitants. To know more about the participatory budgeting concept or read the report about this by the Prof Y Cabannes (IIED 2014) :

Social and economic aspects


The peculiarity of the housing sector is the fact that housing needs have become urgent for population (especially urban) increasingly growing, while the possibilities of acquisition of housing are limited with regard to the scarcity of serviced land base, high construction costs, and difficulties to appropriate financing schemes. (2)

Note that the average household size is 5 to 9 people, according to the Senegalese household survey conducted in 2004. Yet almost half of households have a maximum housing three rooms, 75 square meters. (3)

The urban housing prices rose sharply in Senegal, because of the scarcity of serviced land and equipped and titled parcels; the high costs of building materials; land speculation in cities; non-government participation in the financing of roads and utilities; and high and multiple taxation (VAT, registration rates, etc.) the cost of housing. In 2012, housing absorbs on average 18% of household income. (3)

The tenure in Senegal shows that there 17% are tenants against 76% of owners. About 7% of households are housed free of charge by a third party. This tenant-owners share is obviously even stronger in rural areas where there remains 1% of tenants. (3)

Urban intermediary : he is an informal intermediary who plays a leading role in the housing market. These are individuals who are not registered and operating in neighborhood groups. It is the essential link informal transactions for land and urban housing. He asks a nearby commission 5%, but several brokers can work to the same transaction. They are accused of raising the price of housing and operate unfair competition vis-à-vis real estate agencies. (3)




According to the report UNHABITAT 2012, informal housing in Senegal concern 25% of urban housing and 30% of the areas inhabited in Dakar. Flooding is the main challenge facing cities in Senegal, particularly in the suburbs of Dakar where 49% of homes are affected by the damage (mainly Pikine and Guédiawaye). (3)

A field study (Payne & Rakodi Lasserve Durant, 2008) shows that to secure the inhabitants (including through obtaining title) encourages them to invest more in improving their habitat. The interest for the government to secure informal housing is not so much in the increase in revenues (through taxes) than developing a transparent land market, with social legitimacy, which led to the selfimprovement of dwellings. (3)


Post-colonial period (1960-1973): the demand for housing loans was weak and could be found in order to achieve extensive planned housing programs.

First oil shock (1973-1980): the public actor in place must stop its activities and commercial banks offering loans much more costly to residents. This has led to curb housing projects – developing a multifaceted land speculation – to engender informal settlements. The state has tried to address these problems, in particular by establishing in 1979 the Housing Bank in Senegal.

A real housing policy (1980-1989): During this period, the state is very active, recreating a new institution specialized in housing finance (BHS). The Bank of the State fund of housing and parcel for real estate companies and private developers, but also housing cooperatives and housing for individuals. Another organization is created to produce serviced urban land accessible to the greatest number. The new regulations are promulgated in housing production chains. Social housing is developed on the territory in 1989. But no action regarding the habitat in rural areas!

Restructuring and land regularization of undeveloped areas (2000s) with political change, choices of new housing production occurs. Strengthening interest-free loans for employees of the public service, supervision of cooperatives, simplifying land procedures are in place. A land regularization program of undeveloped areas is set up with the revival of production developed parcels. Rental housing also receives financial aid.

Programme against flood zones and slums (since 2005): the state produces social housing and moves people to conduct large urban renewal projects. Land reserves are made available to these habitat programs, including social housing.

Letter of Sector Policy (2011-2021): diagnosis posed sector, the State plans to implement the policy frameworks that are dictated to him by international organizations such as UN / Habitat or NEPAD. Among the guidelines include better management of urban space & urban areas – improving access to land – the production of social housing “family roof” – the fight against slums and irregular occupations – …

Cultural aspects – Religious – Symbolic

Environmental aspects

Bibliography & Sitography

  1. AFRICAPOLIS, Dynamiques de l’urbanisation, 1950-2020 : approche géo-statistique, Afrique de l’Ouest, AFD, pp 86-92, 2011.
  2. Réseau Habitat & Francophonie, 3me conférence sur le thème Aménagement, politiques de l’habitat et gouvernance territoriale”, Dakar, mai 2011. Télécharger le rapport.
  3. ONUHABITAT, Profil du secteur du logement au Sénégal, 2012, pp 132.
  4. OMCT, Rapport au Comité des Droits économiques, sociaux et culturels, 2001. Document de l’OMCT
  5. ENDA, « Contre l’accaparement de terres », littérature grise, 2012




  • GRET SENEGAL = nonprofit organization that works in international network brings together professionals and Cooperative Development. In Senegal, leading among other actions on food chains – access to drinking water and sanitation – building actors. Representation in Senegal : Website – Contact them.
  • ENDA-RUPSince its founding in 1972, ENDA accomplishes among other tasks that accompany by the Board and providing innovative solutions, the development of communities most vulnerable to the precariousness, in the logic of sustainable development. Specifically, the association carries out support for the social production of goods and services, particularly in terms of habitat; the development of local entrepreneurship for integrated resource management; promoting local governance; capacity building of popular actors and animation of advocacy networks. Website ENDA
  • ATD Quart Monde Sénégala combat active movement and resistance to misery in the extreme poverty active since 1982 in Senegal. Among their actions related to habitat include the promotion of housing, solidarity projects and mobilizations against flooding. Address : Sicap Liberté 4Villa N°5236 Complexe Léopold Senghor Pikine – Tél : 00221 33 82 42 846