Ziguinchor is located in the province of Ziguinchor, in the very south of Senegal. Around 300,000 people live in this city, which is largely separated from northern Senegal by the country of Gambia.
Ziguinchor is growing economically thanks to the production of rice and peanut oil, but is also a tourist destination. However, the region is still marked by conflict and violence. In addition, girls are victims of the practice of female genital mutilation, which is widespread in Senegal.
Since 1998, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Ziguinchor.
Female genital mutilation (FGM), is, according to the World Health Organization, “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”
This practice is still prevalent in Senegal, and around two million girls and women have undergone FGM. In the province of Ziguinchor specifically, an estimated 68% of girls have undergone this procedure. Although it is illegal, FGM is often considered a religious duty, associated with social standing. The target to end FGM by 2030 will require a major push from the government.
Ziguinchor is located in the Casamance region in southern Senegal. This area is at the centre of the Casamance conflict, a conflict between the Senegalese government and the Movement of the Democratic Forces of Casamance that has been ongoing since 1982. Although a ceasefire has been in place since 2014, sporadic violence still occurs. In the region, which is marked by insecurity, 40 000 people have been displaced and the region's economy has suffered. Traditionally, agriculture was the main source of income, but the presence of numerous unexploded landmines on an estimated 1.2 million square metres of land has affected this activity. Children are the most affected by the violence and insecurity.