The UPS airlift intervention arrived at a critical time before the start of the rainy season in Mauritania that can last from June to September. WFP Mauritania has been urgently trying to increase its storage capacity around the M'bera refugee camp in the extreme southeast of the country in order to preposition commodities before the rains start, which will significantly hamper access to the area.
For this reason, WFP has been racing to preposition necessary food commodities before the start of the rains. WFP increased its transportation capacity by augmenting the WFP fleet and entering into agreements with private contractors to permit the possible transportation of 1,000 mt per day. But the other difficulty was where to store the 7,000 mt of food required to cover the needs of refugees during the rainy season when access by road is near impossible.
Wiikhall mobile storage tents were seen as the ideal solution to meet the storage needs of the area given its isolation and lack of infrastructure. The UPS airlift of 9 wiikhalls further expedited their delivery to Bassikounou, with the WFP team on the ground in charge of their set up.
When WFP first started intervening in Bassikounou to provide assistance to the refugee population hosted in M'bera camp, there was almost no capacity or infrastructure already established -- nowhere to stay, no office area, and most importantly, no storage areas for WFP commodities. WFP has thus been racing to develop the infrastructure necessary for humanitarian assistance in an area where the extreme climate, poor road infrastructure and isolation hinders access.
The M'bera refugee camp is located in one of the most remote areas of Mauritania, in a region with high security risks and traditionally low levels of humanitarian activity. The lack of capacity has been compounded by the camp's location in Hodh El Chargui, one of the most vulnerable regions of the country where 37% of the local population has already been suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition.
In order to meet the needs of the growing number of refugees during the rainy season, WFP estimated the need to preposition 7,000 mt of food commodities in Bassikounou. Commodities are used for general food distributions as well as the prevention and treatment of moderate acute malnutrition among refugees.
Storage is used for food commodities distributed through WFP's refugee response, which include rice, pulses, oil, sugar, salt and "super cereal" (a blend of fortified corn and soya). In addition, as Head of the Logistics Cluster, WFP is offering storage assistance to other UN agencies and international NGOs operating in M'bera camp.
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