Building resilience and adaptive capacity of communities in the Sahel

Talibe Selmen Camara and people in his village Agoueinitt in the Wilaya of Guidimakha, the southern-most region of Mauritania have been suffering in recent years due to lack of rainfall. Droughts and land degradation have destroyed crops and threatened the food security of local communities across the region. Smallholder farmers have resorted to desperate measures in order to cope, selling vital assets or migrating. To help communities adapt to and thrive under climate change, WFP is supporting Governments to implement the project “Enhancing Resilience of Communities to the Adverse Effects of Climate Change on Food Security in Mauritania” under the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund. This four year project is already yielding concrete adaptation results after its first year of implmentation. 

 

Mr Talibe Selmen Camara – Village Chief, Agoueinitt in the Wilaya of Guidimakha Photo credit: WFP/G. GADER

 

Combatting Desertification and Land Degradation 

 We are people who love trees and we protect them because our life depends someway on their existence.”- Talibe Selmen Camara – Village Chief, Agoueinitt in the Wilaya of Guidimakha

In the south of Mauritania, Guidimakha is the region with the highest population density as well as poverty and hunger in the country. Communities in Guidimakah are comprised of  smallholder farmers who rely on rainfed agriculture and livestock keeping.  They farm small family plots averaging 1.3 hectares. Due to the arid climate of this region, communities must protect existing vegetation for cultivation as well as livestock. “We are people who love trees and we protect them because our life depends someway on their existence” says Talibe Selmen Camara who is the village chief of Agoueinitt in the Wilaya of Guidimakha.

“While setting up the adaptation action plan with the Adaptation Fund project, we proposed to plant trees and particularly two species that have a special value for people of the village.” - Talibe Selmen Camara – Village Chief, Agoueinitt
 To combat desertification and soil degradation, the project introduced sand dune fixation and village plantations – to prevent sand dunes from encroaching their cultivated lands, and protect degraded soils. Under the project, 58 tree nurseries have been grown and planted by local communities. The project has a participatory approach and works with villages to include better natural resource management and village adaptation plans into regional planning. “While setting up the adaptation action plan with the Adaptation Fund project, we proposed to plant trees and particularly two species that have a special value for people of the village.” says Talibe Camara, the Village Chief of Agoueinitt. The community proposed planting Ziziphus and Balanites, two local trees well adapted to local climatic conditions. These trees also produce fruits which can be eaten or transformed into local drinks for direct use or for sale.

Women planting nurseries in Agoueinitt, Guidimakha region as part of the project. Photo credit: WFP/G. GADER

As part of the project across the country, 163,000 plants will cover about 400 hectares in 8 regions of Mauritania. Areas planted have been fenced for protection. These plantations have two objectives based on the ecosystems where they will be implemented: dune fixation or village plantation for soil protection and domestic consumption.

Diversifying livelihoods, building resilience 

In addition to dune fixation and soil protection, the project introduced planting of high value crops such as vegetables in 37 villages with the help of women’s associations. The project will also introduce activities such as poultry and bee-keeping for income and livelihood diversification so that incomes and food security are less vulnerable to the changing climate.  

“We are very happy by this cooperation with the project and we are fully involved to success all the activities planned in our village”

As in Guidimakha, local environmental and community needs are taken into consideration while planning income and livelihood activities across different villages. The project aims to build livelihood resilience within the targeted communities and has brought hope to the people in the villages. “The project helped us to establish the nursery with the needed technical support ensured by the Regional Environment Services” says Talibe Camara. Looking ahead, he feels optimistic toward the project’s impact on the communities. “We are very happy by this cooperation with the project and we are fully involved to success all the activities planned in our village” he added.