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Mauritania
 
             
 
         
 
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Desertification & Forestration
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The Sahara desert covers about 77%  

Mauritania, with a population of 2 million, is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has a GDP per capita of about US$ 500. The Sahara desert covers about 77% of the country. Major climatic changes including a marked reduction in rainfall and desertification have seriously affected food security. The country is heavily dependent on international food aid and imports and dept repayments represent 40 per cent if export receipts. Mauritania has also experienced one of the highest rates of rural migration and urbanization in Western Africa.
Mauritania, with a population of 2 million, is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has a GDP per capita of about US$ 500. The Sahara desert covers about 77% of the country. Major climatic changes including a marked reduction in rainfall and desertification have seriously affected food security. The country is heavily dependent on international food aid and imports and dept repayments represent 40 per cent if export receipts. Mauritania has also experienced one of the highest rates of rural migration and urbanization in Western Africa. Because of widespread desertification, the population has rapidly transformed from nomadic to sedentary. To assist the country with its problems of limited access to education, health and water services in the rural areas, UNCDF supported the Government with the following activities.

Local Governance
In 1992 UNCDF initiated a multi-sectoral programme in Mauritania that was designed to reverse the trend towards desertification and desertion of rural areas in one of the country's poorest provinces, Assaba (around 225,000 inhabitants). To a large extent, this goal has been achieved, although how much of this outcome is attributable to the Programme itself remains open to question, especially since the initial baseline for measuring impact was patchy. Nomadic populations that were forced by several droughts to become sedentary can now invest their efforts and scarce resources into agriculture and livestock-raising on a sustainable basis. The role of women in both marketing and natural resources management has grown dramatically, along with school attendance for girls and participation of women in decision- making at the community-district level.

Large infrastructure works (mainly dams construction and rehabilitation) provided the essential element of perennial access to water; however, neither were they implemented in the most cost-effective manner, nor did they pay enough attention to their fullest utilization for agricultural purposes. The Government addressed the first issue by significantly increasing its cash contribution to the project, and the project team experimented with success alternative, low cost methods of flood retention enabling marginalized fractions of the population to take advantage of erratic rainfalls. This trial and error aspect of the programme achieved more relevance when the Local Development Funds methodology pioneered by UNCDF was introduced. Making resource-poor local government institutions (long-established, but somehow dormant communes) work through the injection of small capital grants for social infrastructure and natural resources management helped them capitalize on earlier experience in increasing the resource pool and managing various user groups' access to it. A strong sense of ownership of the Programme's physical outputs as well as planning and management methods ensued, as well as a new sense of pride in the region's "rebirth", which attracted attention from other provinces and the central government. As both elected officials and civil society leaders put it "this is the type of development project we needed and the only one we want, because it's ours".

 
Source: UNCDF  

 
   

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