WFP supports Mauritania’s most vulnerable and food-insecure populations through a country programme, an emergency operation and two special operations. These interventions aim to save lives and protect livelihoods in response to the ongoing Sahel food security and Malian refugee crises, in addition to reduce risks and build resilience among vulnerable groups. WFP activities have been developed in line with Government plans and integrate national capacity building to address food security, focusing on policies, hand-over strategies and trainings.
WFP’s country programme (CP) supports the Government of Mauritania’s efforts to address food insecurity and malnutrition through the promotion of sustainable hunger solutions. Programmed for 2012-2016, the operation focuses on food-based social safety nets in the areas of nutrition, education and livelihood support while creating partnerships to advance the Government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy. Activities target the nine most vulnerable regions in southern and eastern Mauritania, marked by low school attendance, high food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty. The three components of the CP are:
(i) reduce the prevalence of underweight children and cases of acute malnutrition among children under 5 as well as pregnant and lactating women in vulnerable areas through targeted supplementary feeding and awareness activities;
(ii) improve access to primary education in vulnerable areas through school feeding;
(iii) and reduce risks and build resilience of vulnerable food-insecure groups affected by recurrent climate shocks through village food reserves and productive environmental rehabilitation activities.
In total, the country programme will assist 497,000 people over a five-year period. Of a total budget of US$ 76 million for the full operation, the country programme has received funding of only US$ 3.4 million as of 9 May 2012 and faces a shortfall of 96%.
WFP is responding to the effects of the drought and high food price crisis in Mauritania through an emergency operation. The operation was established based on the government’s request for assistance to respond to the crisis via its plan “EMEL” (“hope”), and now covers approximately 56% of the EMEL plan not including WFP assistance to Malian refugees. The programme includes targeted cash transfers in both urban and rural areas, general food distributions in rural areas at the peak of the crisis, support to cereal banks (SAVS), food for assets activities, and the treatment and prevention of moderate acute malnutrition. Given the arrival of refugees from Mali since early February 2012, WFP has also added general food distributions for refugees and host communities to its emergency operation. In total, the operation targets over 620,000 beneficiaries, including more than 58,000 refugees and 30,000 members of host communities of the Hodh El Chargui region. The total funding gap for the emergency operation is US$ 22 million, or 45% of the planned budget through December 2012.
Finally, two special operations support and complement WFP’s emergency operation. A regional special operation provides essential logistics augmentation in support of the Sahel Drought Crisis, meeting the immediate transport and storage needs for WFP, as well as the potential needs of the wider humanitarian community. The second special operation established the UN Humanitarian Air Services in Mauritania to provide a safe and reliable air transport service to the humanitarian community due to insecurity in the parts of Mauritania where beneficiaries are located, coupled with the long distances that humanitarian workers must travel to reach these localities. The regional special operation has a funding gap of US$ 4.7 million, or 84% of its total budget for operations through October 2012. Humanitarian air services have been funded at 54% and face a shortfall of US$ 850,000.
To support and enhance food security and nutrition activities along with information sharing, WFP is collaborating with the Food Security Commission and Action Against Hunger-Spain on the development of a national market information system. The EU funded project plans to elaborate upon previous market information analyses and use new technologies such as rapid SMS. Additionally, the project plans to regularly produce information on the availability, accessibility and utilization of food; produce reliable and high-quality information on food security in Mauritania; and provide a thorough analysis and dissemination of food security information through national frameworks.