Mauritania + 1 more

WFP Mauritania Country Brief, March 2020

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In Numbers

195 mt of food assistance distributed

US$ 0.9 m cash-based transfers made

US$ 12.8 m six months (April– Sept 2020) net funding requirements

74,384 people assisted in March 2020

Operational Updates

• Following the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19 in Mauritania on 13 March 2020, measures were taken by the Government to limit the spread of the virus. As part of the national response plan against COVID19, the United Nations system immediately activated a contingency plan to ensure continuity of service while limiting the presence of personnel and non-essential missions. In line with the guidelines set by the UN country team, the WFP office in Mauritania has been testing its Business Continuity Plan since 20 March. A review of the programmes was initiated to identify the priority activities to be maintained and the implementation modalities adapted to the COVID-19 crisis, while sustaining life-saving assistance and adopting a do-no harm approach.
WFP decided to maintain activities in Mbera refugees camp as well as lean season interventions, while the school feeding programme was suspended, and take-home rations will be given to the families. The community asset creation activities will be interrupted as of mid-April. In parallel, two new activities were also identified as priorities and concern assistance to populations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the provision of services to the humanitarian community. A budget revision in underway to include them in the Mauritania Country Strategic Plan (CSP).

• As co-lead of the food security group, WFP is intensifying coordination efforts with partners to (i) validate the revised tools and the 2020 national response plan and; (ii) define together the contingency modalities to be adopted to ensure the continuity of seasonal assistance in the context of COVID-19.

• In Mbera camp, food and cash distribution was extended from five to seven days in March in order to reduce the number of beneficiaries on site. Barrier measures were put in place to prevent the spread of COVID19. Hand-washing facilities were installed at the distribution sites and health workers were present at distribution sites for taking the temperature before the distribution. All the staff engaging in the distributions wore gloves and masks. The fingerprints’ system, allowing beneficiaries to be recognized and access to their rations, was suspended to prevent contamination, and all distribution sites were cleaned before and after each distribution. In addition, awareness posters on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were displayed at each distribution site.

A total of 54,755 people (98 percent of the planned beneficiaries), belonging to group 1,2,3 and 4 (identified on the on the basis of their food security and livelihoods profile) received a monthly ration of USD 9 (cash portion of the ration), while a total of 48,951 people (98 percent of the planned) belonging to group 1,2 and 3 received a daily ration of 100 gr of rice, 25 gr of oil and 5 gr of salt.

• Activities for the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition resumed, reaching 536 children aged 6-59 months with lipid-based nutrient supplements. A total of 116 children were healed and discharged (21 percent) and there were no deaths or non-responding cases. The COVID19 related sensitization tools developed by the Ministry of Health were posted in all malnutrition centres and all beneficiaries were sensitised before distributions.

• To enable the humanitarian and health response, WFP planned to further strengthen its logistics services so that WFP will be able to continue and expand the provision of these services to humanitarian and health partners and national governments where needed. Hence, as lead of the logistic pillar of the COVID-19 response, WFP provided three trucks for the transport and distribution throughout the country of 100,000 masks, 20,000 screening kits and 1,000 protective medical suits donated by the Jack Ma Foundation to the Government of Mauritania. In parallel, the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) continued to operate three flights per week, transporting 87 passengers, 989 kg of cargo and connecting Nouakchott-Nema-Kiffa, through over 26 in-country rotations.

• As part of the food assistance for assets (FFA) programme, asset creation activities continued in the regions of Guidimakha, Assaba and Hodh El Charghi, reaching 1,134 participants. A joint WFP/CSA mission was carried out in the three regions to monitor activity implementation and main outputs.

• WFP, together with the Minister of Education, celebrated the African School Feeding Day on 3 March, to continue advocating for stable and continuous funding as well as to reiterate its support in the implementation of the national school feeding policy. Through the school feeding programme, 17,959 Mauritanian children received a morning porridge and a hot lunch the first weeks of march. In mid-March, the Government announced a temporary closure of schools as barrier measures for the COVID-19 spread, and since then, the school-feeding programme was suspended. WFP is looking for alternative solutions, namely the take-home rations.