Map of Mauritania
UNICEF Photo: Girl playing in the child-friendly space of a therapeutic feeding center in Kaedi, South-East Mauritania. © UNICEF Mauritania/2012/Kurzen Girl playing in the child-friendly space of a therapeutic feeding center in Kaedi, South-East Mauritania.

Mauritania

Updated January 2014

In 2014, UNICEF and partners plan for:
32,870

children under 5 affected by severe acute malnutrition (including 2,120 in Mbera camp) are admitted for treatment

52,000

children under 5 (including refugees) suffering from diarrhea, malaria, measles or acute respiratory infection are treated

30,000

girls and boys at risk or victims of violence, abuse and exploitation are identified, referred and assisted

2014 Requirements: US$21,354,756

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Snapshot

Total affected population: 1 million1
Total affected children (under 18): 476,600

Total people to be reached in 2014: 531,000
Total children to be reached in 2014: 315,200

Mauritania continues to suffer from a multi-dimensional crisis related to food insecurity, the high prevalence of malnutrition, recurrent epidemics, the influx of Malian refugees and political instability. A series of droughts, compounded by chronic poverty and lack of access to basic services, have exhausted the livelihoods of the most deprived communities and undermined household resilience in general. The many economic, environmental, social and political shocks that the country faces hit the most vulnerable people the hardest, particularly women and children. Today, more than one in 10 children dies before reaching the age of five.2 In 2014, 531,000 people will require humanitarian assistance, including 315,200 children.3 Global acute malnutrition (GAM) will affect 125,300 children under 5, including 30,750 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM).4 At the same time, Mauritania will remain the largest recipient of Malian refugees, with an estimated 60,000 people (58 per cent children) living in the Mbera camp, although a gradual return of refugees to Mali is expected.5 In Mbera camp, children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable and face high risks of abuse and violence. Moreover, the presence of refugees has put additional pressure on the already strained resources of host communities, many of which are affected by food insecurity and malnutrition. Finally, 140,000 people affected by floods will need support in 2014.6

Humanitarian strategy

2014 programme targets

Nutrition

  • 32,870 children under 5 affected by SAM (including 2,120 in Mbera camp) admitted for treatment
  • 51,400 children aged 6 to 24 months reached through blanket feeding

WASH

  • 30,750 children and mothers affected by SAM receive WASH kits and hygiene promotion
  • 43,800 people affected by the Mali crisis access safe water, personal hygiene and sanitation facilities

Health

  • 52,000 children under 5 (including refugees) suffering from diarrhea, malaria, measles or acute respiratory infection treated
  • 94,300 children in humanitarian situations aged 9 to 11 months vaccinated against measles

Education

  • 20,000 refugee children have continued access to formal and non-formal education
  • 45,017 out-of-school children,128,300 students at high risk of dropping out of school and 25,509 students in areas affected by floods benefit from school supplies

Child protection

  • 28,448 children in humanitarian situations with SAM accessing emotional stimulation and psychosocial support
  • 30,000 girls and boys at risk or victims of violence, abuse and exploitation identified, referred and assisted

HIV and AIDS

  • 50 HIV-positive children aged 6 to 59 months with SAM referred for treatment

For the response to the nutrition crisis, UNICEF is the lead agency for nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and education. UNICEF will continue to work with the Government of Mauritania, United Nations agencies and civil society partners on a multi-sector approach targeting the most vulnerable children and women. UNICEF will respond to the 30,750 expected cases of SAM, while working to prevent malnutrition through blanket feeding, micronutrient supplementation, food fortification and the promotion of good health and hygiene practices. The WASH-in-nutrition strategy will be scaled up, as will the integrated management of childhood illnesses, to reduce the burden of malnutrition and child killer diseases. UNICEF will work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Mbera camp to improve hygiene and sanitation, treat acute malnutrition and immunize children. UNICEF will support equal access to education in areas affected by floods and the nutrition crisis and among refugees and host communities. The child protection system approach will be used to better respond to situations of abuse, violence and exploitation. Literacy classes, life skills trainings, prevention of gender-based violence, and health and hygiene promotion will be emphasized to reduce vulnerabilities. To address malnutrition and to strengthen resilience, a cash transfer operation will target 2,500 vulnerable households during the lean season. Preparedness and early response will be strengthened for floods, cholera outbreaks and locust invasions.

Results from 2013

UNICEF appealed for US$20.2 million for 2013, and as of 31 October 2013, a total of US$12,340,941, or 61 per cent of requirements, had been received in contributions. As part of the nutrition response, 14,230 children with SAM were treated in 422 nutrition centres, and 49,155 children aged 6 to 24 months were reached through blanket feeding. The WASH-in-nutrition strategy reached 7,294 people with WASH kits and hygiene promotion. In addition, 9,617 children received psychosocial support in 41 child-friendly spaces. UNICEF supported the scale-up of community management of acute malnutrition and the development of the national health information system to accelerate progress. As part of the refugee response, 32,480 refugees and 7,464 people in host communities gained access to improved water and sanitation. In nutrition, 3,993 children were treated for acute malnutrition and 26,721 children were vaccinated against measles. In addition, 7,087 households received bed nets. Due to funding constraints, only 24 per cent of refugee children received formal or non-formal education. All Malian students finishing middle and high school were able to take final exams in the refugee camps. Girls represent the largest share (71 per cent) of children receiving non-formal education in the Mbera camp. Approximately 5,000 children received psychosocial support in child-friendly spaces, 2,872 youth took part in socio-cultural activities, and 2,475 adolescents received life skills training. The child protection system was strengthened in 201 institutions through staff trainings on emergency psychosocial support and gender-based violence. UNICEF also assisted 40,488 people (20,770 children) affected by floods and supported 44 schools by facilitating proper drainage, filling in flooded areas and draining septic tanks, allowing 9,000 students to start the school year on time.

Results from 31 October unless noted

Funding requirements

Based on the country’s inter-agency Humanitarian Needs Overview and 2014 Strategic Response Plan,9  UNICEF is requesting US$21,354,756 to meet the humanitarian needs of women and children in Mauritania in 2014. Lack of funding in 2013 hindered progress and significantly delayed the implementation of interventions. Emergency funds in 2014 will therefore allow UNICEF and partners to provide a timely response to the many challenges Mauritania is still facing, while saving the lives of the most vulnerable children and women.

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1 The population of food insecure people is 1 million and includes 531,000 people affected by severe food insecurity.
2 Office national de la statistique, ‘MICS4 2011’, 2011.
3 Reported in the Food Security and Monitoring Survey (FSMS), July 2013.
4 Reported in the SMART Nutrition Survey, July 2013.
5 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘Operation Sahel – Portail de partage de l’Information’, UNHCR, , accessed 23 December 2013.
6 The population affected by floods in 2013, as reported by the Commissariat pour la Sécurité Alimentaire (CSA).
7 Data collection is ongoing and final results for 2013 will be available in early 2014.
8 Ibid
9 Requirements for Sahel countries are provisional as inter-agency Strategic Response Plans were under development at the time of publication.