People Helped in 2017: 141,907
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.
Poor rains in 2017 have resulted in an acute shortage of food in some regions of Mauritania. Harvests and grassland are critically scarce. Wells and water sources have dried up, forcing herders to migrate several months earlier than usual. This could lead to increased malnutrition in the pastoral regions and cause conflicts with communities where herds seek pasture.
Drought indicators, rainfall deficits and unequal rainfall distribution are now at the same levels as during the 2011-2012 Sahel food crisis, which left a third of the country’s population—around one million people—at risk of severe acute malnutrition. The number of people needing assistance is at levels unseen since 2012. According to the August 2017 National Malnutrition Survey (SMART), almost the whole country is at a critical level of acute malnutrition.
We are working both in development actions in the south of the country to reduce structural vulnerabilities and in the prevention and treatment of malnutrition in the south and east. We have also continued to work in the Mberra refugee camp on the border with Mali, delivering water and sanitation programs.