Frequent climatic shocks and vulnerability in Mauritania mean hundreds of thousands of people face the painful consequences of food insecurity and malnutrition every year. 57,000 refugees from Mali face a protracted struggle to thrive without hope of returning home soon. Actors implementing humanitarian and development activities are working together to build resilience through innovation and long-term solutions. Now is the time to break the cycle and help people reshape their future.
A HISTORY OF CHRONIC VULNERABILITIES AND RECURRENT SHOCKS
The people of Mauritania are striving to withstand the consequences of prolonged vulnerabilities each year, punctured with crippling peak years that trigger critical humanitarian needs. Fueled by a challenging natural environment, drought is a recurrent threat that drives chronic food insecurity, malnutrition and livelihood fragility. Rainfall has steadily declined since the 1950s1 , and water is retreating deeper underground. As the 23rd most vulnerable country in the world to climate change, natural hazards in Mauritania are long-term challenges that generate long-term needs.
Mauritania still struggles to recover from one of the world’s biggest food crises that wreaked havoc on the Sahel in 2011 and 2012. In 2017 the country was hit by a severe drought and confronted by an unusually long lean season, exhausting vulnerable communities’ coping mechanisms. Over 550,000 people were driven into food crisis and 124,000 affected by malnutrition in 2018.
IN A COMPLEX ENVIRONMENT
Mauritania is affected by challenges stirring in the Sahel, particularly the persisting conflict in neighboring Mali. The 57,000 Malians who fled to Mauritania require humanitarian assistance to survive.
From January to July 2018 alone almost 7,000 migrants arrived in Nouadhibou, as per governmental sources. In recognition of these and other complicating factors, Mauritania is included in the UN Support Plan for the Sahel as part of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS) framework.
Compounding these issues, the population is expected to double by 2039, and there is a growing youth demographic bulge with limited livelihood options. With thousands of children outside the formal education system, young people searching for opportunity are at risk of radicalization.
A DIFFICULT YEAR AHEAD
Further pressure on food security and nutrition is expected in 2019.
Successive years of biomass deficits, low and poorly distributed rainfall, have strained resources and resilience and depleted assets, and the alert has been raised that Mauritania may face an early pastoral lean season5 for the second year in a row.
Although some regions have received average rainfall with better distribution in comparison with last year, the situation remains difficult for certain areas in the southwest that experience extended periods without rain.
Significant biomass deficits are observed in the northern areas of Trarza, Brakna, Assaba, Tagant and the northeast of Gorgol.