Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
The first confirmed COVID-19 case was registered in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania on 13 March 2020. As of 20 October, 7,634 confirmed cases were registered, including 7,359 recoveries and 163 deaths; and a total of 84,731 tests were performed. The Government has lifted all restrictions and recently closed the containment centre for asymptomatic COVID-19 patients in place at the University of Nouakchott. These decisions continue to be interpreted by a large part of the population as the end of the pandemic in Mauritania, leading to a lack of respect for barrier measures and a very low level of alerts. However, the Government continues to remind the population to respect the preventive measures put in place. Dedicated efforts continue to be initiated by the Government and partners to strengthen the healthcare system, community ICP and RCCE interventions.
The World Bank, in a recently published report, alerted about the macro-economic and social impact of COVID-19 in Mauritania, as well as the impact on food security. Based on their scenario, the poverty rate could increase from 5,5% in 2019 to 6% (or 6.3%) in 2020, pushing 25,000 (or 42,000) additional people to fall into extreme poverty. This impact would be felt more by women and girls through, for example, a withdrawal from the education system to take care of their family members at home and the increase in gender-based violence1. The Government is developing a multi-sectoral plan for cohabitation with COVID- 19 and economic recovery, which is about to be finalized. UNICEF, jointly with WFP, will support the Government to provide critical social assistance support in the short and medium term, while contributing to strengthened national social protection systems in the medium to longer term. Immediate support will be provided to respond to the needs generated by the pandemic, as well as helping to strengthen overall national capacities to adapt and build more shock-responsive, nutrition- and child-sensitive social protection systems moving forward.
The support provided to the Government by the United Nations and the humanitarian and development partners is coordinated through the Incident Command System (ICS). UNICEF ensures the lead of the “Risk communication and community engagement” (RCCE), including community watch, and “Infection Prevention and Control” (IPC) pillars. In accordance with the INFORM COVID-19 Risk Index, Mauritania shows high health and humanitarian impacts risks from COVID-19 that could overwhelm current national response capacity, and therefore lead to a need for additional international assistance.