A Malian family arrives at a refugee settlement in eastern Mauritania. WFP / Malick Ndiaye
WFP Mauritania is launching two emergency operations to respond to the needs of those facing severe hunger as a result of the drought as well as the Malian refugees, who have fled to Mauritania to escape the Touareg conflict.
Erratic rainfall last year led to poor harvests and pasture, leaving millions of people food insecure in the coming months across the Sahel region.
A recent food security assessment showed that around 25% of households in Mauritania are food insecure, amounting to around 700,000 people. This figure is three times higher than in December 2010.
The eastern and southern parts of the country, including the Hodh Echargui, Guidhimakha, Gorgol and Assaba regions, are worst affected. In these areas, people rely almost entirely on farming and livestock for their livelihoods. Food prices are also much higher than normal, exacerbating an already precarious situation.
In line with the Mauritanian government’s response plan, WFP will implement an emergency operation to assist 380,000 people through targeted food distributions, nutrition, cereal bank support and cash transfers. Targeting of the most vulnerable populations and purchase of food has begun. The first food distributions are expected to start in the coming weeks.
In addition, as of 6 March 2012, over 34,000 Malian refugees had taken refuge in Mauritania – a figure that is expected to rise significantly in the coming months. WFP has launched a 3-month emergency operation to provide much-needed food assistance to this vulnerable group.