UN World Food Programme

WFP hails generous donation from Saudi Arabia to Mauritania

WFP has hailed a second generous donation in the space of seven months from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its operation in Mauritania, which is strongly directed towards saving young children from the ravages of malnutrition.

WFP has hailed a second generous donation in the space of seven months from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its operation in Mauritania, which is strongly directed towards

We are extremely grateful for their continued concern for the suffering of many of the poorest people in Mauritania
WFP Mauritania Country Director Gian Carlo Cirri

saving young children from the ravages of malnutrition.

The US$2 million donation comes at a critical time ahead of the annual ‘lean season’ when the poorest families struggle to meet their food needs as they wait for the next harvest. It is also a vital boost to an operation, which has struggled for funding in recent months.

Substantial donation

“A second substantial donation within such a short period of time shows how seriously the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia regards the situation here,” said WFP Mauritania Country Director Gian Carlo Cirri. “We are extremely grateful for their continued concern for the suffering of many of the poorest people in Mauritania.”

WFP’s operation in Mauritania is this year targeting a total of 68,000 children at risk of severe malnutrition.

These children receive a daily supplementary food ration of corn-soy blend to improve their nutritional status. Rations are distributed through over 600 feeding centres located across the poorest regions of the country.

Food-for-work

The donation from the Saudi Arabia is split in two parts with US$1 million contributing directly towards WFP food deliveries in the country, mainly targeting children under the age of five, as well as pregnant and lactating women, through supplementary feeding centres.

Such funds will also help supply village food security stocks and food-for-work projects in deprived rural communities, at a time where food resources are dramatically decreasing.

The second US$1 million will serve to purchase a total of 29 all-terrain vehicles for the use and property of WFP’s government counterpart in Mauritania, the National Food Security Commission.

Chronic malnutrion

The use of such vehicles will be coordinated with WFP to reinforce the battle against hunger and malnutrition in the country.

Earlier aid to Mauritania has had a positive impact on the fight against malnutrition. Preliminary results from a recent nutrition survey by UNICEF showed that the national global acute malnutrition rate is 8.2 percent, down from 13.3 percent in 2001.

Over the same period, global chronic malnutrition rates have dipped from 38.2 percent to 24.5 percent.

"Hard won gains"

“These considerable and hard won gains in the battle against hunger and malnutrition have been at stake in the past few months, due to funding shortfalls in our operations, but this donation is an example to others – the time to act is now, and not later,” said Cirri.

Saudi Arabia is the third most important donor to WFP operations in West Africa, behind only the United States and the European Union. It contributed US$13 million in 2006 alone.

Biggest donor

Also, as an increasingly significant donor to WFP operations, the Government of Saudi Arabia contributed US$33.4 million last year alone, a tenfold increase compared to 2005.

In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is the biggest donor to WFP's global activities and the Kingdom has become the 16th largest donor overall to the UN food aid agency in 2006.

WFP operations in Lebanon, Cambodia, the occupied Palestinian territory, and Pakistan, as well as East and West Africa are among the recent beneficiaries of generous Saudi support.