Mauritania: Food Assistance Fact Sheet – Updated April 24, 2019

Limited income-generating opportunities and recurrent natural disasters like drought contribute to high levels of hunger in Mauritania, an arid country of 4 million people. Additionally, conflict in neighboring Mali has driven thousands of refugees, who face acute food needs, across the border.


Many Mauritanians depend on subsistence agriculture and pastoralism as their primary livelihoods, and these activities are susceptible to environmental shocks. Although the 2018 rainy season was largely favorable for food production, parts of southern Mauritania have experienced two consecutive years of insufficient and irregular rainfall, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. In these areas, dry conditions are disrupting plant growth and livestock production; forcing herders to migrate prematurely, which increases the pressure on pasture resources; and restricting affected households’ access to food, income, and water.

After the 2012 coup and civil unrest in Mali, thousands of Malians fled to Mauritania, and persistent conflict in Mali continues to drive new population movements into Mauritania. As of March, the UN reported that Mauritania hosted more than 58,000 Malian refugees, who largely rely on food assistance to meet their basic needs.

Approximately 607,000 people�15 percent of the population�will face Crisis (Phase 3) or worse levels of acute food insecurity and require urgent food assistance from June�August 2019, a March Cadre Harmonise (CH) analysis indicates.* Additionally, a mid-2018 national nutrition survey found that acute malnutrition affected nearly 12 percent of children younger than five years of age, representing a high prevalence per UN guidelines and a slight deterioration compared to the previous year’s assessment.


In collaboration with the UN World Food Program (WFP), USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) provides in-kind and cash-based food assistance to approximately 55,000 Malians living in Mbera refugee camp in southeastern Mauritania. FFP also supports WFP to distribute specialized nutrition assistance to prevent and treat acute malnutrition among refugee children and pregnant and lactating women.

FFP enables the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to deliver ready-to-use therapeutic food to treat more than 8,500 severely malnourished children countrywide through September 2019.

With FY 2018 support, FFP partnered with the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) Save the Children and Action Against Hunger (AAH) to provide cash transfers and food vouchers to an estimated 27,000 highly vulnerable people affected by poor rainfall in southwestern Mauritania. The NGOs also carried out nutrition and agriculture interventions to help families meet dietary requirements and strengthen their livelihoods.

Source: US Agency for International Development