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 facing acute humanitarian needs, including high levels of food insecurity (over 25 per cent of the population in severe food insecurity in most of the provinces) and very high rates of acute malnutrition. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is aggravating this precarious situation and affecting the provision of basic social services. In addition, over 60,000 refugees, including 36,000 children, require access to health, nutrition, education and protection services.
- UNICEF is implementing cross-sectoral approaches to accelerate access to basic services, ensure synergies between humanitarian action and development programming, and build resilience. This includes a multi-sectoral strategy to scale up the integrated management of acute malnutrition and provide water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services.
- In 2021, US$17.7 million is required to meet the humanitarian needs of children in Mauritania. This includes US$6.1 million to provide an integrated response to malnutrition and US$2.8 million to improve access to WASH services.
Key planned results for 2021
30,159 children admitted for treatment for severe acute malnutrition
20,389 children/caregivers accessing mental health and psychosocial support
50,000 children accessing educational services
186,046 people participating in engagement actions
Funding requirements for 2021
Country needs and strategy
Mauritania is facing a range of chronic vulnerabilities. Irregular rainfall is negatively impacting crops and pastures and eroding household resilience and capacities to absorb shocks. The country regularly faces acute humanitarian needs, including high levels of food insecurity (over 25 per cent of the population is severely food insecure in most provinces) and high rates of acute malnutrition rates.
COVID-19 is aggravating the already precarious food security and nutrition situation in Mauritania. The impacts of the pandemic may overwhelm current national response capacities and affect the provision of basic social services. Following the closure of schools in March 2020, nearly 868,000 children are out of school and deprived of their educations. Distance learning programmes have been implemented and a return to school is currently being organized.
Children in Mauritania are also vulnerable to significant protection risks, including child marriage, female genital mutilation, child labour and violence against children. Child protection systems and community-based child protection mechanisms urgently need to be strengthened, and there is an immediate need for integrated child protection services for vulnerable boys and girls, including children with disabilities, and services preventing and responding to gender-based violence.
An estimated 1.4 million people are experiencing crisis-levels of food and nutrition insecurity, and over 609,000 of them are suffering from severe food insecurity. This represents 15 per cent of the nationwide population, a record high among countries in the Sahel. In the context of the pandemic, an estimated 154,000 children, including 35,000 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM), and nearly 52,000 pregnant and lactating women with acute malnutrition, will require care and treatment in 2021. Twenty-three out of 55 districts are experiencing a nutrition emergency, with global acute malnutrition rates exceeding 15 per cent and/or SAM rates above 2 per cent. Only half of people living in these districts have access to drinking water, compared with 70 per cent nationally.
The M’Berra refugee camp, established in 2012, currently hosts over 60,000 refugees, including 36,000 children, who depend on assistance from the Government and humanitarian partners, as well as the generosity of local communities. Refugee children require access to basic services, including health, nutrition, education and protection support. Out of 29,000 school-aged refugee children in the M'Berra refugee camp, only 6,800 are accessing formal education and only 500 youth are accessing literacy courses. In host communities, more than 14,000 children are out of school.
As co-lead of the nutrition sector, UNICEF implements a multi-sectoral strategy to scale up the integrated management of acute malnutrition and provide WASH services. This includes life-saving service delivery through health centres, as well as community-based approaches to prevention that incorporate communication for development, screening, infant and young child feeding counselling and early detection by mothers and caregivers at the country level.
Protection and education are central to UNICEF’s contribution to the Malian refugee response. Together with national and local authorities, UNICEF is facilitating both immediate service provision to meet the urgent needs of refugees and host communities, as well as systems strengthening to improve resilience, including teacher training, risk-sensitive planning, social follow-up for children at risk and victims of violence and assistance to access legal advice, birth certification or medical assistance.
To ensure synergies between humanitarian action and development programming and build resilience, UNICEF uses a cross-sectoral approach that accelerates access to basic services, including for children with disabilities, while improving social cohesion in volatile contexts. This approach includes integrated interventions, monitoring, information management and coordination, including with other United Nations agencies. Mobile, community-based service delivery will facilitate access to affected populations in hard-to-reach areas. UNICEF will continue to strengthen its prevention strategies, such as the provision of integrated nutrition-health packages through early detection of acute malnutrition, vitamin A supplementation, de-worming and immunization. UNICEF empowers women by supporting homestead food production and strengthening their capacities, emphasizing the prevention of gender-based violence as a key contributing factor to preventing acute malnutrition among children under 5 years. UNICEF will also continue to support the adoption of good hygiene practices, while strengthening government systems in the management and coordination of WASH interventions.
In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations system is supporting the Government to respond through the Incident Command System. UNICEF will provide leadership for the risk communication and community engagement pillar, including on community-based surveillance, and the infection prevention and control pillar. UNICEF will also strengthen national social protection systems through the distribution of cash assistance and the establishment of social protection systems that are more responsive to shocks, more sensitive to nutrition and child protection and better adapted to children's needs over the medium- and long-term.
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.