Limited income-generating opportunities and recurrent natural disasters such as drought contribute to high levels of hunger in Mauritania, an arid country of 4 million people. Additionally, conflict in neighboring Mali has driven thousands of refugees, who face acute food needs, across the border.
• Approximately 299,000 people in Mauritania face Crisis (IPC 3) or worse levels of acute food insecurity and are in need of urgent food assistance, according to a November Cadre Harmonisé (CH) analysis. The CH analysis anticipates that the number of Mauritanians in need of food assistance could increase to more than 609,000 during the forthcoming lean season from June–August 2020, with prolonged dry spells in areas near Mauritania’s borders with Senegal and Mali reducing agricultural production and pasture conditions.
• After the 2012 coup and civil unrest in Mali, thousands of Malians fled to Mauritania, with persistent conflict continuing to drive new population movements. As of October, the UN reported that nearly 59,000 Malian refugees had sheltered in Mauritania—primarily in southeastern Mauritania’s Mbera refugee camp—where they are highly dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic food needs.
• According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than 123,000 children in Mauritania will require emergency assistance to prevent and treat acute malnutrition in 2020, including more than 27,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Additionally, UNICEF reports that acute malnutrition prevalence has surpassed the World Health Organization’s 15 percent emergency threshold in 23 out of Mauritania’s 55 districts.
• In collaboration with the UN World Food Program (WFP), USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) provides in-kind and cash-based food assistance to approximately 55,000 Malians living in Mbera refugee camp. FFP also supports WFP’s provision of specialized nutrition assistance to refugee children and pregnant and lactating women to prevent and treat acute malnutrition.
• FFP enables UNICEF to deliver ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat approximately 11,000 severely malnourished children countrywide through December 2020.
• Additionally, FFP partners with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Action Against Hunger (AAH) to provide cash transfers for food and food vouchers to highly vulnerable people affected by poor rainfall in southwestern Mauritania. AAH also carries out nutrition and agricultural interventions to help families meet their dietary requirements and strengthen their livelihoods.
• FFP works jointly with USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance to enable NGO Save the Children to distribute multisectoral assistance targeting approximately 24,000 people in southwest Mauritania.