By Jori Lewis
On a recent rainy morning, Léna Diop, 21, and a few members of her family get a slow start to their day in the working-class Dakar suburb of Guédiawaye, Senegal.
It is only when the rain stops that Léna is able to send her cousin to the bread kiosk to buy baguettes for breakfast. Léna’s 6-year old sister, Coumba Ndiaye, tags along to make sure she gets what she wants — and what she wants today is bread with a peanut butter-based chocolate spread that tastes a little like Nutella.
“It’s delicious,” she says and tears into it right away, while her 12-year-old cousin, Mimi Ndiaye, stops at the corner store to buy the other breakfast necessities: a few bags of sugar, powdered milk, and a couple of sticks of Nescafe. They get everything they need for about 1,000 FCFA (about $1.74 USD).
Back home, Léna fires up a small charcoal furnace to reheat the rest of yesterday’s dinner — macaroni in an onion sauce — to spread on the baguettes. Coumba is tempted to eat a little bit of that, too — and so she does.
Senegal hopes to become a middle-income country in the next 20 years and there are some promising signs of success. The average income has been creeping up over the years and the economy has shown general signs of growth. Parts of Senegal still experience the occasional famine, but in general, people are eating more and eating better than ever before.
Still, the level of poverty here is high — at more than 46 percent of the population, according to the World Bank. For families like Léna’s that struggle to make ends meet, the price of a day of meals is sometimes a challenge.