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

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

36,000

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$14,190,865

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Snapshot

Total affected population: 384,500*
Total affected children: 192,250

Total people to be reached in 2014: 194,474
Total children to be reached in 2014: 97,237

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. In 2014, 531,000 people will require humanitarian assistance, including 315,200 children. Global acute malnutrition (GAM) will affect 125,300 children under 5, including 30,750 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM). 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. It is unlikely that Malian refugees will return home soon as living conditions and social services are not yet restored. 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 and as in previous years, the rainy season triggered floods, in particular in low land areas. So far approximatively 700 families are in need of humanitarian assistance following the floods.

Humanitarian strategy

2014 Revised Programme Targets

Nutrition

  • 30,750 children affected by the nutritional crisis aged 6-59 months affected by SAM admitted for treatment
  • 2,120 children aged 6-59 months affected by SAM in Mbera refugee camp admitted for treatment
  • 41,156 children aged 6-24 months reached through blanket feeding

WASH

  • 30,750 children and mothers affected by SAM receive WASH kits and hygiene promotion at nutrition centers

Health

  • 36,000 under-five children (including refugees) suffering from diarrhea, malaria, measles, or acute respiratory infection treated
  • 170,800 children in humanitarian situations aged 6 months to 15 years vaccinated against measles

HIV and AIDS

  • 50 HIV positive children aged 6-59 months with SAM referred for treatment
  • 25 HIV positive lactating women referred for PMTCT

Education

  • 16,299 refugee children have continued access to formal/non-formal education
  • 45,017 out-of-school children and 128,300 students at high risk of dropping out of school in the six regions most affected by the nutrition crisis benefit from school supplies
  • 25,509 students in areas affected by floods benefit from school supplies

Child protection

  • 23,100 children with SAM access emotional stimulation and psychosocial support at refugee camp and therapeutic centers
  • 40 child-friendly spaces reinforced or established in nutrition centers and capacities of staff strengthened
  • 30,000 girls and boys at risk or victims of violence, abuse and exploitation identified, referred and assisted

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, as well as for Ebola preparedness.

Results from 2014 (January to August)

As of 31 August, UNICEF has received US$5.5 million of the US$14.19 million funding requirement for 2014.

As part of the nutrition response, 11,913 children with SAM were treated in 464 nutrition units, and 30,677 children 6-24 months were reached through blanket feeding. The WASH-in-nutrition strategy reached 2,049 people with WASH kits and hygiene promotion. In addition, 4,178 children received psychosocial support In 41 child-friendly spaces. To date, UNICEF is supporting the scale-up of Community Management of Acute Malnutrition as well as the development of a national health information system to track the nutritional status of children. As part of the Malian refugee response, 812 children were treated for acute malnutrition with 500 children also benefitting from emotional stimulation support. In addition, 1,444 refugee children between 0 and 11 months were vaccinated against measles.

Unfortunately, due to funding constraints, only 24 per cent of refugee children (49 per cent girls) received formal or non-formal education. All Malian refugee students finishing middle and high school did take final exams. Non-formal education activities are underway in the camp, with girls representing the largest share (71 per cent) of participants. In addition, 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 through the training of 201 institutions in emergency, psychosocial support, and gender-based violence.

UNICEF also assisted 691 families affected by floods providing non-food items as well as providing awareness raising sessions on essential hygiene and family practices such as hand washing and water treatment. 25,509 students affected by floods were provided with school supplies.

Funding requirements

UNICEF is requesting US$14 million to meet the humanitarian needs of women and children in Mauritania in 2014. Lack of funding in the earlier part of 2014 hindered progress and significantly delayed the implementation of programming. Emergency funds will therefore be essential to 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 This figure corresponds to the total of children vaccinated against measles between 0 and 11 months, whereas the indicator looks at between 6 months and 15 years.
2 Ibid.