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WFP & UNICEF Issue Urgent Call For Support To Continue Vital Assistance In Mauritania

NOUAKCHOTT, MAURITANIA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today warned that funding shortfalls threaten their ability to provide essential assistance to some of the most vulnerable families in Mauritania.

WFP in Mauritania works with the Government, other UN agencies as well as national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide assistance to over 380,000 food-insecure people, plus more than 130,000 children aged under five as well as 57,000 pregnant and nursing women who are already suffering from or are at high risk of malnutrition. Assistance is also provided to some 50,000 Malian refugees in Mberra camp.

Critical funding shortfalls have already forced WFP to suspend school-meal distributions as of December, leaving over 150,000 school children from vulnerable families without the certainty of a daily meal.

“We fear that the anticipated funding gaps will force us to make further cuts in the assistance we provide, with a potentially devastating impact on the food security of the poorest families,” said Janne Suvanto, WFP Country Director in Mauritania.

“Without additional funding, WFP will have to continue to provide smaller rations and reduce the frequency of distributions. Moreover, due to the current funding situation, no (relief) activities are taking place in the vulnerable areas of Brakna and Hodh El Gharbi,” added Suvanto. “Not being able to provide assistance will take a huge toll on the most vulnerable families. We urgently need $21 million to support our activities till August.”

In Mauritania, UNICEF targets pregnant women and children under the age of five to prevent malnutrition and its consequences. UNICEF, in its fight against malnutrition, leads a wide range of activities including breastfeeding support, appropriate complementary foods for infants aged over 6 months, and micronutrient supplementation for women and children to address deficiencies.

In 2015, 80% of health centers supported by UNICEF in Mauritania adopted intensive and outpatient nutritional recovery and education center treatments. A total of 18,280 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition were admitted and treated in health centers.

In June 2015, the prevalence of severe acute malnutrition in Mauritania was 14%, the highest since 2012, making vulnerable populations more prone to nutritional risks. This situation used to happen once every five years but now happens once every two years.

“The nutritional situation worsened in Mauritania during the 2015 hunger gap,” said Souleymane Diabaté, UNICEF Representative in Mauritania. “This led to an increase in the number of children affected by malnutrition. We are concerned that this number might increase even more this year, and that without additional funding, we may not be able to cope with this situation.

“We need two million dollars to be able to face this situation,” said Diabaté. “This year, the cure rate for malnutrition was of 80%. That’s a rate that we hope to be able to improve thanks to resource mobilization.”

More than 450,000 Mauritanians suffer from food insecurity, meaning that they struggle to put food on their table. WFP, the national Commission on Food Security (CSA), and UNICEF are together on the forefront of the fight against hunger and malnutrition.

“Our joint assistance is vital for vulnerable families. We need everyone’s support to continue these fundamental activities,” concluded WFP’s Suvanto.
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WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience. Each year, WFP assists some 80 million people in around 80 countries.

UNICEF is a leading humanitarian and development agency working globally for the rights of every child. Child rights begin with safe shelter, nutrition, protection from disaster and conflict and traverse the life cycle: pre-natal care for healthy births, clean water and sanitation, health care and education. UNICEF has spent nearly 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families.

For more information please contact (email address:

WFP Mauritania: Enrico Piano, Information Management and Reporting Officer +222 26891399

UNICEF Mauritania: Zahra Cheikh Malainine, Communication Specialist