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The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2013: Mauritania

The FAO Component of the Consolidated Appeals 2013: Mauritania
Dec 2012

Mauritania has been seriously affected by the 2012 Sahel food and nutrition crisis, straining the resources and resilience of the rural poor. A rapid increase in food prices has drastically weakened the purchasing power of most families, deepening poverty. Furthermore, thousands of families have found refuge in Mauritania since fighting erupted in northern Mali in January 2012. They are living in harsh conditions with limited resources and means to sustain themselves.

Challenges facing food security and livelihoods

Today, one million people in Mauritania are food insecure, and more than 105 000 children under five suffer from global acute malnutrition, compared to 90 000 in 2011.

The lack of rain in the past years has left many wells dry, making water scarce for human and livestock consumption. As a consequence, pastoral families have lost between 30 and 60 percent of their livestock, and are struggling to re-establish their livelihoods. They have adopted negative coping mechanisms, such as reducing the number of meals, consuming poor quality food or selling key productive assets, such as livestock, further compromising their resilience to future shocks.

Animal diseases, such as peste des petits ruminants, Rift Valley fever and pasteurellosis, in addition to higher mortality rates and decreased animal reproduction, have led to a sharp decrease in milk production. This has contributed to higher rates of malnutrition among children in pastoral and agropastoral communities.

Many families in the southern and south-west regions of Mauritania have exhausted their food stocks, and are no longer able to feed themselves. Due to the 2011/2012 drought, households have been unable to produce sufficient food to cover their daily food requirements and have had to rely on commercial imports or food aid.

The rise in food prices since July 2012 is predicted to worsen the food security situation in the country in 2013. High food prices have already led to a decrease in the purchasing capacity of Mauritanian families, reducing their access to food and essential agricultural inputs. Many of them are now trapped in a downward spiral of weak production capacity and chronic food insecurity.

More than 80 000 Malian refugees fleeing hostilities in their country have settled in the eastern region of Hodh Ech Chargui. This large-scale and sudden displacement has rapidly depleted already scarce resources and degraded the environment. The resulting increase in population has generated a higher demand for food and goods, contributing to price increases which could lead to conflicts between local communities and refugees.

FAO response

As part of the 2013 CAP, FAO aims to strengthen and diversify the livelihoods of Mauritania’s farming households affected by recurrent drought, especially helping the most vulnerable to cope better with ongoing and future shocks.

The timely provision of agricultural inputs will help prevent the food and nutrition crisis from worsening, while also decreasing dependence on food aid and promoting self-reliance. FAO will help vulnerable farming families produce nutritious food within a few months by distributing vegetable seeds - more tolerant to climatic changes - fertilizers, tools, drainage and fencing material.

To help strengthen the resilience of pastoral communities, FAO seeks to establish pastoral field schools and support the management of local cooperatives. Additionally, efforts will be made to prevent and control the spread of animal diseases by strengthening animal disease monitoring systems and providing vaccines and other veterinary supplies to herders. FAO also aims to strengthen the national livestock services through training on the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards.

To assist Malian pastoral refugees to rebuild their herds and alleviate the burden on host communities, FAO will distribute animal feed and mineral and vitamin supplements, and train beneficiaries on the use of crop residues as animal feed.

Legend: FAO funding requests for Mauritania from 2008 to 2013

FAO will continue to co-lead the activities of the Food Security Cluster with WFP, in close collaboration with the Government. The Cluster will collect and analyse food security data, participate in national and regional meetings and contribute to the development of food security strategies, programmes and projects with experts from local governments and international NGOs. These activities aim to improve the transition between emergency and development and ensure that the response of humanitarian partners is efficient and reaches the communities most in need.