Mauritania is a vast desert—less than one percent of its land is usable for agriculture. The climate leaves very little opportunity for farmers, and makes the country more dependent on food imported from other countries, making many Mauritanians vulnerable to fluctuating food prices and problems of supply. Beyond high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition, Mauritania ranks poorly in terms of access to water and sanitation, as the majority of the country’s population is nomadic and has little regular access to basic necessities.
The country’s scarce resources are also being stretched thin by the growing number of refugees entering the country. In 2012, escalating violence in neighboring Mali forced more than 74,000 Malians to flee for their safety into Mauritania. Many Malians left their homes and livestock behind, arriving in Mauritania malnourished and dehydrated. Access to resources like food, water and land is crucial for the health and safety of both the refugee populations and host communities.
Action Against Hunger has worked in Mauritania since 2007, providing the country’s most vulnerable populations with access to food, safe drinking water, and sanitation services. In 2012, the Sahel food crisis left a third of the country’s population—around one million people—at risk of severe acute malnutrition. We responded to the emergency and treated 85,000 malnourished individuals across Mauritania and the Sahel region.
In 2012, we served nearly 120,000 people in Mauritania: we treated over 42,000 malnourished individuals while providing safe water and sanitation to nearly 7,000 people and helping another 70,000 regain their livelihoods. Though conditions in Mauritania and throughout the Sahel are improving, there is still much work to be done, and we are committed to continuing the fight against deadly hunger in the region.