Mauritania, located in the Sahel region of West Africa, experiences high levels of food insecurity with 42 percent of the population living below the poverty line. The majority of people in eastern and southern Mauritania survive on subsistence farming and herding. In 2012, a severe drought and resulting high food prices further reduced food security among many communities and households. A food assistance program implemented by Counterpart International (CPI) supported the creation of Village Development Committees throughout Mauritania to improve food security.
Debaye Teydouma, one of the villages assisted, is a community of 150 households in Lehrejet municipality in the Hodh-El-Gharbi Region of Mauritania. The community, through the support of the USAID-CPI program, established a Village Development Committee in 2009. The committee then developed a community activity plan, including building a community warehouse through food-for-work activities, conducting community health activities while distributing food rations to malnourished children, and installing a grain grinding mill to generate income.
Debaye Teydouma was among those communities that suffered from drought in 2012. According to one beneficiary, “Without rain, we couldn’t plan any crops.” The few herders in the community left with their animals, crossing the border to Mali for greener pasture and water. Teydouma Village Development Committee decided to use part of the community savings from the grain mill to buy subsidized cereals from the Mauritanian Government. The committee purchased four metric tons of cereal and made it available to all households during the drought, with each household reimbursing the grain at its own pace. This community effort enabled families to withstand the worst effects of the drought. One visible example was the rate of malnutrition. Despite the drought, the malnutrition rate in Debaye Teydouma was one of the lowest in the region at 6.8 percent.
Debaye Teydouma is now working to reconstitute its seed capital and develop new income generating activities to better prepare for future shocks. CPI’s program is supporting similar projects in 160 communities throughout Mauritania to strengthen their resilience to food insecurity.
Last updated: January 14, 2015