What are the needs?
Bridging the Arab Maghreb and the Sahel region, Mauritania is sparsely populated and is one of the world’s poorest countries, with some 52,4 % of its population either near or living in poverty, deprived of basic services such as health and education. Like other Sahel countries, Mauritania was affected by the 2012-2013 food and nutrition crisis. Still in 2017, the most vulnerable populations continue to suffer from the cumulative impact of recurrent shocks which have eroded their livelihood and resilience.
More than 900.000 people are currently food insecure, and an additional 281,000 face severe food insecurity (source: Cadre Harmonisé June 2017). High food prices directly affect the poorest households, who largely rely on local markets to access food.
Regarding the nutrition situation, 21% of children under five are stunted -too short for their age, a sign of malnutrition- and in 2017, it is estimated that over 150 000 children under five years old (14% of the children) will suffer acute malnutrition (source: SMART nutrition survey June 2015). The national health system has very limited capacities to respond to the crisis.
In addition, Mauritania hosts the largest number of refugees from Mali: close to 50 000 persons who crossed the border from 2012 onwards following the conflict in Northern Mali. Spontaneous returns to the country of origin are few, mostly due to the prevailing security situation and the extremely poor access to basic services that awaits them. Small groups of people seeking refuge in Mauritania due to insecurity in Mali, continue to reach regularly the borders towns.
How are we helping?
The European Commission has stepped up support to humanitarian programmes in Mauritania since 2006. In 2016, humanitarian funding to Mauritania totaled €11.3 million.
EU funds support life-saving assistance and emergency safety nets, such as cash transfers, to the poorest families to prevent them from going hungry and having to sell their remaining assets.
EU humanitarian assistance also funds nutrition programmes supporting the prevention and treatment of undernutrition among children under five years of age, as well as among pregnant and lactating women.
Assistance to Malian refugees in Mberra camp focuses on the improvement of the nutrition, food, water and sanitation, conditions in the camp. Education in emergencies and protection are also part of the supported activities. Particular attention is also given to increasing self-reliance and resilience among refugees and host communities.
The EU also funds the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service UNHAS, which allows humanitarian workers to reach remote locations and increase access to those in need of assistance.