Mauritania to improve water supplies in Nouakchott with US$6.6 million OPEC Fund loan

The OPEC Fund for International Development today signed a US$6.6 million loan agreement with the Islamic Republic of Mauritania to help finance a major water supply project in the capital, Nouakchott. By diverting water from the Senegal River, the project aims to satisfy domestic and industrial demand in the city up until the year 2030.

Mauritania is an arid country and is currently experiencing one of its driest years ever. The availability of water in Nouakchott falls seriously short of requirements, with per capita consumption at just 55 liters per day and barely one-third of the population enjoying access to a piped-in service. The majority of people obtain water from public water points or are forced to purchase it from street vendors.

At present, the city relies exclusively on underground supplies from the Trarza aquifer, but this water basin is falling dangerously low and needs to be protected from overuse.

The four-year project will carry out extensive civil works, including the construction of water intake facilities on the Senegal River at Aftout, some 200 km from Nouakchott, together with treatment plants, pumping stations and a reservoir, as well as the installation of water transmission pipes to provide a connection to the existing distribution system.

It is anticipated that the project will expand potable water access to 75% of Nouakchott's population by 2008, and 100% by 2030. Per capita consumption is expected to increase to 85 liters per day by 2010. An additional 10,000 rural dwellers, living along the transmission lines, will also benefit. Ready and inexpensive access to clean water will help ease urban poverty and reduce the incidence of water-borne disease.

To date, the OPEC Fund has extended 23 loans to Mauritania. These include financing for commodity imports programs and balance of payments support, as well as projects across a wide variety of sectors. Mauritania has also received debt relief from the Fund under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, and is one of 35 countries to benefit from a grant to cover its subscription to the Common Fund for Commodities.

Today's agreement was signed in Vienna by H.E. Mr. Malainine Ould Moctar Nech, Ambassador of Mauritania to Austria, and by H.E. Mr. Jamal Nasser Lootah, Chairman of the Governing Board of the OPEC Fund.

Data Summary:

Project: Aftout-Es-Saheli Water Supply
Sector: Water Supply and Sewerage
OPEC Fund loan: US$6.6 million
Lending terms: Interest rate of 1.25% per annum, with an annual service charge of 1% on amounts withdrawn and outstanding; maturity of 20 years, including a grace period of 5 years.
Borrower: Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Executing agency: Ministry of Water Resources and Energy through the National Water Company
Implementation period: 4 years
Appraising agency: Islamic Development Bank (IsDB)
Loan administrator: Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (Arab Fund)
Cofinanciers: Arab Fund
Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development

Saudi Fund for Development
African Development Fund
Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania

Total cost: US$220 million
Project description: The project will comprise the following:

- construction of water intake facilities, treatment plants, reservoirs and pumping stations;
- installation of transmission pipes;

- provision of a centralized control system;
- land acquisition;
- technical assistance; and
- consultancy services.