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Map of Mauritania
UNICEF photo: a woman holds an infant child near a weigh scale © UNICEF Mauritania/2019/A. Tamayo Alvarez Children attend an outpatient treatment centre in Kaedi, Gorgol, Mauritania.

Mauritania

In 2020, UNICEF and partners plan for:
22,470

children under 5 years with SAM admitted for treatment

13,482

children undergoing SAM treatment (60 per cent of the total caseload) accessing safe water for drinking, cooking and hygiene through household water treatment

11,500

refugee and host community children reached with mental health and psychosocial support

2020 requirements: US$13,420,000

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Snapshot

Total people in need: 606,60012
Total children (<18) in need: 306,00013

Total people to be reached: 226,70014
Total children to be reached: 127,20015

Due to frequent climatic shocks and high levels of vulnerability, thousands of children in Mauritania suffer from malnutrition every year.1 Since 2017, irregular rainfall has negatively impacted crops and pastures, eroding household resilience and capacities to absorb shocks.2 Over 123,000 children, including nearly 27,000 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM), and some 31,000 pregnant and lactating women with acute malnutrition, will require care and treatment in 2020.3 Of Mauritania's 55 districts, 23 (42 per cent) are experiencing a nutrition emergency, with global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate above 15 per cent and/or the SAM rate above 2 per cent. These 23 districts account for three quarters of the country's total SAM caseload.4 Only 47 per cent5 of people living in these districts have access to drinking water, compared with the national average of 70 per cent.6 In addition, nearly 57,000 Malian refugees7 require access to basic services, including safe water, health care, education and protection. Out of the more than 28,000 school-aged refugee children (aged 3 to 18 years)8 in the M'Berra refugee camp, only 6,200 are accessing formal education, and 2,700 youth are accessing literacy courses. In host communities, more than 13,500 children9 are out of school.

Humanitarian strategy

2020 programme targets

Nutrition

  • 22,470 children under 5 years with SAM admitted for treatment
  • 99,285 pregnant and lactating women reached with an integrated package of IYCF services16

Health

  • 1,775 children aged 0 to 11 months reached with measles vaccination in the refugee camp and host population
  • 5,220 children aged 0 to 59 months with common childhood diseases reached with appropriate and integrated management of childhood illness services

WASH

  • 13,482 children undergoing SAM treatment (60 per cent of the total caseload) accessing safe water for drinking, cooking and hygiene through household water treatment
  • 26,000 children accessing and using appropriate sanitation and hygiene facilities in health and nutrition centres and schools in refugee camps, host communities and villages with high SAM burdens

Child protection

  • 11,500 refugee and host community children reached with mental health and psychosocial support
  • 300 survivors of sexual and gender-based violence reached with gender-based violence response interventions

Education

  • 6,400 out-of-school boys and girls aged 3 to 17 years accessing education
  • 9,250 school-aged boys and girls (aged 3 to 17 years) in the refugee camp and 15,100 children in the host community affected by humanitarian situations receiving learning materials

As co-lead of the nutrition sector, UNICEF will continue to use a multi-sectoral strategy to scale up the integrated management of acute malnutrition and provide water, sanitation and hygiene (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 (IYCF) counselling and early detection by mothers/caregivers at the country level. To ensure synergies between humanitarian action and development programming and build resilience, UNICEF will continue to work with other United Nations agencies and use 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. Mobile, community-based service delivery will be employed to reach affected populations in hard-to-reach areas. Protection and education will remain central to UNICEF’s contribution to the Malian refugee response. Together with national and local authorities, these activities will involve both immediate service provision to meet the needs of refugees and host populations, as well as systems strengthening to improve resilience, including teacher training, risk-sensitive planning and integrated community-based child protection services and mechanisms.

Results from 2019

As of 31 August 2019, UNICEF had US$9.5 million available against the US$10.51 million appeal (90 per cent funded).10 Of the 27,000 children under 5 years with SAM who were targeted with services, 14,500 (54 per cent) received treatment. Following a mass screening campaign that covered 87 per cent of targeted children, 1,750 children with SAM were referred for treatment. Over 1,200 children aged 6 to 59 months with common childhood diseases received appropriate integrated management of childhood illnesses. Nearly 12,000 children either benefited from safe drinking water in nutrition centres (6,000) or accessed appropriate sanitation and hygiene facilities in health centres and schools in refugee camps, host communities and villages with high SAM burdens (5,650). Over 1,400 children (814 girls) in M’Berra camp and 330 children (197 girls) in host communities received protection and psychosocial support. Emergency education programming reached 8,900 refugee children in the M’Berra camp and 10,900 children in host communities, and 19,000 textbooks were purchased for the 2019/20 school year. With UNICEF support, the Mauritanian local education authorities trained nearly 200 teachers in psychosocial support, including 150 teachers who reached 5,400 refugee children in the camp and 144 teachers who reached 10,600 children in host communities.11

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Funding requirements

UNICEF is requesting US$13.42 million to meet the humanitarian needs of children in Mauritania in 2020. Without timely and adequate funding, UNICEF will be unable to continue its response to malnutrition and address the critical health and WASH-related needs of affected children. Basic supplies, teacher training and additional education facilities for primary education and child protection interventions are also urgently needed to uphold the rights of refugee children and children in host communities.

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1 United Nations Country Team in Mauritania, ‘Mauritania: Fighting chronic vulnerabilities’, May 2019, https://reliefweb.int/report/mauritania/mauritania-fighting-chronic-vulnerabilities-may-2019, accessed 12 September 2019.
2 Action Contre La Faim, ‘Bulletin d’information: Etat de la biomasse et de l’eau de surface au Sahel la mi-saison de l’hivernage 2019’, http://sigsahel.info/wpcontent/uploads/2019/09/Bulletin_analyse_biomasse_mi_saison.pdf, accessed 12 September 2019.
3 Government of Mauritania Ministry of Health and United Nations Children's Fund, National Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) survey, July 2019.
4 Ibid.
5 National Water and Sanitation Database, 2018.
6 National Voluntary Review, June 2019.
7 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ProGRES Database, August 2019.
8 Ibid.
9 According to estimations from the General Census on Population and Housing (2013) and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (2014), 45 per cent of children aged 6 to 17 years are out of school in Mauritania.
10 Available funds include US$4.4 million received in 2019 and US$5 million carried forward from the previous year.
11 Additional funds were mobilized for education-in-emergencies activities, which allowed UNICEF to reach more children than expected.
12 In the absence of a humanitarian needs overview, this is based on the Cadre Harmonisé West Africa’s version of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, March 2019 (Phase 3 to 5 food insecurity).
13 The children in need figure was calculated using 50.5 per cent of the total people in need. This estimated proportion of the population that is under 18 years is based on the general population census of 2013.
14 This includes 22,470 children aged 6 to 59 months with SAM; 77,226 children aged 6 to 23 months and 95,520 women to be reached with IYCF programmes; 24,350 children to be reached with education in refugee camps and host communities (including 12,175 girls and 185 children with disabilities); 3,132 children to be reached with health care; and 4,000 adults in nutrition emergency districts to be reached with WASH services.
15 This includes 22,470 children aged 6 to 59 months with SAM; 77,226 children aged 6 to 23 months to be reached with IYCF programmes; 24,350 children to be reached with education in refugee camps and host communities (including 12,175 girls and 185 children with disabilities); and 3,132 children to be reached with health care.
16 According to the 2019 SMART survey, women who are at risk of acute malnutrition, living in districts affected by nutritional emergency.