Humanitarian Action for Children
UNICEF’s Humanitarian Action for Children appeal helps support the agency’s work as it provides conflict- and disaster-affected children with access to water, sanitation, nutrition, education, health and protection services. Return to main appeal page.
- Mauritania is experiencing an accelerated influx of refugees, coupled with the return of Mauritanian refugees from Mali due to the deteriorating security situation there. According to estimates, during the lean season, nearly 880,000 people faced food crisis conditions of Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Phase 3 or higher, and about 80,227 children are affected by global acute malnutrition. Mauritania is among the countries where children are most exposed to climate risks. In 2023, nearly 1.1 million people, including 411,300 children, will be in need of humanitarian assistance.
- In 2023, to maximize the impact of its interventions UNICEF will implement a multisectoral response only in the 19 most vulnerable moughataas (departments) and in the district of Bassiknou, which hosts refugees and returnees. The focus will be on saving the lives of the most vulnerable children and strengthening the resilience of communities, individuals and systems to shocks. A systematic gender lens will inform analysis and programme design.
- UNICEF is requesting US$11.3 million to meet the needs of the population of the 19 most affected moughataas, particularly in the areas of education, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and nutrition, and in the refugee- and retournee-hosting district. The ongoing SMART survey will soon provide more accurate data on needs, and the appeal will be adjusted accordingly.
Key planned results for 2023
80,624 primary caregivers receiving infant and young child feeding counselling
6,250 women and children accessing gender-based violence mitigation, prevention, response
60,750 children accessing formal or non-formal education, including early learning
18,774 people reached with hand-washing behaviour-change programmes
Funding requirements for 2023
Country needs and strategy
Following the resurgence of tensions in Mali, Mauritania has recorded an influx of refugees in the Mbera camp in Bassiknou and in the other departments of Hodh Ech Chargui Region in the eastern part of the country. Around 80,600 refugees are registered in 2022, including nearly 9,200 new arrivals. In addition, 5,570 Mauritanians returned from Mali in 2022. Many had lost assets, properties and livestock as they escaped violence. Returning pastoralist herds are estimated at 800,000 head of livestock, putting further pressure on already scarce resources and sparking fears of tensions with the host population over access to water. Moreover, pressure on essential social services (health, education, nutrition, WASH) has increased, as have protection concerns, particularly around child labour and child marriage. The influx of people also risks raising tensions among populations and impacting social cohesion.
The situation in northern Mali remains unstable, with a new influx of refugees and returnees is highly likely. Refugees and Mauritanian returnees from Mali need access to education, protection and water services.
According to the results of the Cadre Harmonisé in March 2022, around 878,900 individuals faced food security crisis conditions (IPC Phase 3 or greater) during the peak of the lean season (June-August 2022). This corresponds to 20 per cent of the population, the highest rates in the Sahel region, and reflects an increase of 64 per cent compared with 2021. With the SMART survey still underway, estimates of global acute malnutrition based on figures from the last five years show that 19 out of 55 moughataas are experiencing a nutrition crisis. In addition, the war in Ukraine has had significant impacts on food prices in Mauritania. Mauritania has a cereal‑import dependency of more than 80 per cent, and 50 per cent of this was imported from Ukraine or the Russian Federation in 2021. Most of the underlying drivers of the current food crisis, which is also affecting other Sahelian countries, are likely to worsen and further raise acute food insecurity. Additionally, pandemic Rift Valley fever, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever and measles 15 continue to circulate. And, not least, according to the Children's Climate Risk Index, Mauritania is among the countries where children are most exposed to climate risks.
Mauritania faces enormous challenges in terms of preparedness for crises. This has recently prompted the Mauritanian Government to set up an intersectoral crisis prevention and response mechanism linked to food security and nutrition and to develop a multi-risk contingency plan.
UNICEF's response in Mauritania will be multisectoral, evidence-based and focused on saving lives and strengthening resilience. It will be aligned with government response plans and complementary to the actions of other United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations. The response will improve equity and target the most vulnerable people, including disabled children, while applying a gender-sensitive approach. UNICEF will support engagement and partnership with young people to empower them to create positive change, contribute to social cohesion and increase resilience to shocks. UNICEF and its partners will undertake gender-based violence risk mitigation and prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse activities in all sectors.
UNICEF will draw on its strong presence and partnerships in Mauritania to ensure a timely response to conflict-related displacement and natural hazards through leadership of the WASH, education, nutrition and child protection sectors, in line with the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action, as part of a broader humanitarian-development nexus approach. Comprehensive actions will be carried out in the framework of social cohesion and resilience through essential social services in conjunction with state services, non-governmental organizations and other United Nations agencies.
In 2023, UNICEF will also respond to the needs of those most affected by wasting by focusing on emergency areas (19 moughaatas out of 55) and on Bassiknou, including Mbera camp. The Government of Mauritania will support the cost of 100 per cent of the the ready-to-use therapeutic food that is required. UNICEF will therefore focus on early detection and treatment of severe wasting in children under 5 years of age. To reduce malnutrition in the long term, UNICEF aims to increase the proportion of infants aged 0-5 months who are exclusively breastfed to 75 per cent and the proportion of children aged 6-23 months who are receiving the minimum dietary diversity to 60 per cent (by 2025). To achieve this and to reduce the need for emergency treatment in the long term, UNICEF will apply a multisectoral approach using health, food and social protection platforms . All actions will be supported by capacity building and innovation to ensure quality and equitable service provision and creating demand.
UNICEF will expand community engagement and risk communication through such innovations as chatbots and voice recordings to equip communities with the skills to develop protection-prevention practices , promote appropriate behaviour and engage leaders more effectively. Feedback mechanisms, including social listening media platforms, U-Report and call centres, will be improved to address community concerns, guide decision-making and ensure the effective inclusion of gender, disability and youth priorities in all programmes.
UNICEF will provide technical assistance to the Government to strengthen its emergency preparedness and its coordination role and response capacity at the national and decentralized levels.
Find out more about UNICEF's work
Humanitarian Action is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate to realize the rights of every child. This edition of Humanitarian Action for Children – UNICEF’s annual humanitarian fundraising appeal – describes the ongoing crises affecting children in Mauritania; the strategies that we are using to respond to these situations; and the donor support that is essential in this response.