by Jennifer Foth - Communications
This is the first year since records began in 1954 where there has been absolutely no rain during month of July. Even in the terrible droughts of the 70's and 80's there was at least one inch of rain. This year, almost half way through the month of August, there has been just over ½ inch.
Every region in Mauritania and thus all World Vision Mauritania's 11 Area Development Programmes (ADPs) have all been affected, but it is much worse in rural areas where subsistence farming and raising of livestock are the primary means of livelihood.
During a typical rainy season, eastern Mauritania looks like a golf course. Herdsmen bring their livestock of cattle, sheep, goats and camels up from the south to feed on the lush grass. This year, parched and cracked, the terrain has nothing to offer the thousands of animals. They are dying by the hundreds.
The situation is equally as desperate for farmers. In a meeting this past week with World Vision Mauritania Country Director Charles Ossey, the regional governor for the Assaba emphasised, "By this time last year, the sorghum was high in the fields, and we were already planning the harvest. This year there is nothing but dust."
The lack of rain has caused purchase prices for animals to drop dramatically and cereal prices to skyrocket. This time last year in Kiffa, the second largest city in Mauritania, the price for a seven year old cow was 80,000 UM (US$311). Today you can buy the same cow for 30,000 UM (US$109) and no one is buying.
World Vision Mauritania has taken preparatory measures should the situation continue to worsen. An emergency response team is in place, gathering information and formulating plans of action to respond to various scenarios.