June 20, 2024

United States provides $11 million in humanitarian and economic assistance to Mauritania

Mohamed Ould El-Ghazaouani, President of Mauritania
Mohamed Ould El-Ghazaouani, President of Mauritania

The United States government announced on Thursday that it will be providing $6 million in new humanitarian assistance and $5 million in economic support to Mauritania through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Nearly 680,000 people are facing a dire hunger crisis, the highest level of food insecurity in the country in a decade.

A poor 2021 rainy season in Mauritania compounded the effects of high food prices exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and COVID-19, making it more difficult for already vulnerable families to afford their basic food needs.

Communities in southern Mauritania are experiencing the worst effects of the drought, with farmers suffering widespread crop losses and pastoralists moving their livestock in search of food and better conditions. Mauritania also hosts nearly 87,000 refugees, the majority of whom have fled from conflict and violence in neighboring Mali and who rely on humanitarian food assistance to meet their daily needs.

USAID said the new funding “will provide emergency food assistance to nearly 150,000 people. USAID will provide cash assistance for refugees living in the Mbera refugee camp, allowing families facing hunger to purchase food staples from local markets, supporting the local economy.”

It added that the cash assistance “will also help vulnerable, drought-affected Mauritanians buy enough food during the ongoing lean season, also known as “hungry season,” to prevent families from resorting to negative coping mechanisms, such as selling reproductive cattle and forced migration, in order to eat.”

“USAID’s economic support, through the U.S. Feed the Future initiative, will enhance existing social protection and safety nets, increase youth employment skills and market access opportunities through apprenticeships, mentoring, financial support for small businesses, and linkages to private sector partners to better manage food security shocks in the short and long terms,” the agency wrote, adding that the U.S. remains a critical humanitarian donor to Mauritania, with this new announcement bringing U.S. funding to $19 million in Fiscal Year 2022 alone.

“This is on top of the $15 million in development assistance, subject to Congressional approval, that the United States will invest in the Sahel region to support innovative, market-based solutions to food production and food security issues,” said USAID. “This funding is part of the $2.76 billion in additional U.S. government resources to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations from the escalating global food security crisis exacerbated by Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and drought.”

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