Nouakchott, 28 September 2007 – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has warned that floods in Mauritania are putting greater pressure on its dwindling food supplies for 470,000
people who are among the most food insecure in West Africa.
The UN agency appealed for donors to contribute US$3.8 million or 4,440 metric tons of food to head off a three-month break in supplies for Mauritania from this month.
The situation is particularly critical because the number of food insecure people in Mauritania has risen by 16 percent compared to December 2005, according to a food security survey by the
National Office of Statistics, Food Security Observatory and WFP in July.
Some 420,000 people struggle to feed themselves at the best times, and half rely on WFP food to survive.
“WFP made an appeal in March for Mauritania, but very little has been received so far,” said WFP Mauritania Country Director Gian Carlo Cirri. “If no fresh contributions are forthcoming now, we
will have a total break in supply and thousands of people will be at risk.”
The fight against malnutrition has led to positive results in Mauritania. According to the joint study by the Government of Mauritania and WFP, supplementary feeding activities put in place by
WFP and partners in the past year have led to a decline in the number of malnourished children under 5 from 51,000 in February 2007 to 31,000 in August this year.
Making a difference
“This is a fact. We know we can make a difference in fighting food insecurity and malnutrition, but we need continuous support. Unless additional funding is received, all these benefits for
children will be washed away and we will be back where we started,” said Cirri.
Floods and the expected repatriation of 20,000 Mauritanian refugees from Senegal have added more pressure on WFP in Mauritania. Severe floods in the South of the country, in addition to those
in Tintane in the Southeast, have left 30,000 people without shelter and short of food.
WFP set up mobile warehouses to store food and non-food items in addition to opening six supplementary feeding centres in August in Tintane for 300 malnourished children under 5 and 120
pregnant and nursing women.
WFP is about to distribute its food just as food from bilateral donors runs out. WFP’s support in Tintane and other flood areas complements assistance from the Government and other agencies.
WFP is also gearing up in close coordination with the Government and the UN refugee agency for the expected repatriation of 20,000 Mauritanian refugees from Senegal in the coming year.
WFP will provide three-month food rations on their arrival, and will implement food-for-work programmes for both host communities and returnees to impoverished regions.
High rates of malnutrition and food insecurity in Mauritania are caused by the limited agricultural potential of Mauritania.
Even in good crop years, agricultural yields can only cover 30 percent of the needs of the population, leading to a high dependency on imports and markets.