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USAID works to assist food-insecure populations in Mauritania, as well as conflict-affected Malians living in Mbera Camp
USAID works to assist food-insecure populations in Mauritania, as well as conflict-affected Malians living in Mbera Camp (above) near the Mauritania–Mali border.
Terry Wollen/USAID

Key Developments

Since mid-June, unseasonably heavy rains and resultant flooding have resulted in the deaths of at least 18 individuals, affected more than 29,000 people, displaced populations, damaged or destroyed more than 3,800 houses, and inundated agricultural land—resulting in the death of livestock—across Mauritania. The most affected areas include Mauritania's capital city Nouakchott and the country's central and southern regions. For example, the rains and flooding had displaced nearly 25,000 people in southern Mauritania's Gorgol and Nouakchott-Nord regions as of late August; displaced individuals are sheltering in schools, according to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (GIRM). Damage to civilian infrastructure has also limited individuals' ability to leave affected areas and impeded humanitarian actors' ability to deliver assistance, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reports. In coordination with GIRM, international and local relief actors are distributing cash, food assistance, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) kits to vulnerable households in flood-affected areas.

On September 2, U.S. Charge d'Affaires, a.i., Inga Heemink, issued a Declaration of Humanitarian Need/Disaster Declaration due to the effects of the floods in Mauritania. In response, USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (USAID/BHA) provided $100,000 to World Vision to deliver shelter, WASH, and emergency relief supplies to vulnerable populations in Gorgol's Kaédi city, as well as the Dar el Baida and Dar Naim neighborhoods of Nouakchott.


Below average and poorly distributed rainfall during the 2021 rainy season in Mauritania resulted in below-average crop and pasture production, particularly in the southern agropastoral and rainfed areas of the country, exacerbating food insecurity. Despite early and plentiful rainfall in parts of southern Mauritania, precipitation quickly dried and caused farmers to lose crops planted during the abundant early portion of the rainy season. Poor rangeland conditions have also led to earlier transhumance as pastoralists undertook strategic destocking and moved their animals to find better grazing in the south and southeast. The impact of the poor rainy season has compounded the effects of high food prices and trade and movement restrictions due to COVID-19, leaving already vulnerable households without sufficient resources to meet their basic food and nutritional needs. On January 25, 2022, U.S. Ambassador Cynthia A. Kierscht declared a disaster due to the drought and acute food insecurity in Mauritania.

Mauritania also hosts more than 76,000 refugees, mostly Malians sheltering in the southeastern region of the country, as of September 2021. In response, USAID supports the provision of food and nutrition assistance—including cash transfers for food and in-kind food aid—for the refugee population. USAID has also supported the provision of specialized nutritious foods to treat and prevent wasting in children younger than five years of age and pregnant and lactating women.

Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: September 07, 2022

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