By Tamer Aboalenin
GENEVA, Jan 2, (KUNA) -- Over one million Mauritanians could face severe
food crisis in the coming months, the International Federation of Red Cross
and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has warned on Monday.
The IFRC has launched an emergency appeal for about USD 2.5 million to put
in place early measures to mitigate the effects of a severe food and nutrition
crisis threatening Mauritania.
The combined effects of poor harvests and lower pastures resulting from
erratic rainfall, drought, and rising food prices, has severely reduced the
availability of food for tens of thousands of Mauritanians, in particular the
poorest households, said Jessica Sallabank to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee's 2012 strategic paper shows that the
number of people facing food shortages in Mauritania increased from 428,000 to
838,000 between July and November and predicts that this number could reach 1.
2 million people by January 2012, if urgent action is not taken.
"In some rural areas, the crisis is already there and we must act now
before it deteriorates like we saw in the Horn of Africa," she added.
According to the data of the IFRC, Malnutrition is now reaching worrying
proportions in the country, particularly for children under two years of age.
The highest acute malnutrition rates in the country are noted in Brakna and
Gorgol, southern Mauritania, where they stand at 18 per cent and 15.7 per cent
The IFRC appeal aims to support the Mauritanian Red Crescent in assisting
10,000 households. Funds raised will be used to distribute fodder for
livestock, seeds and tools for agro-pastoralists, relief food for vulnerable
households, and reinforce existing nutrition centres with mobile units.
Community-based disaster risk reduction activities will also be implemented to
allow people to be less dependent on rainwater for their food security.
"The lean period, i.e. the time before the current crops are ready for
harvest and there is typically less food, will be particularly severe this
year and will last for longer" said Nathalie Bonvin, Regional Food Security,
Nutrition and Livelihoods delegate at the IFRC Regional Office in Dakar. "But
if we start acting now, a new tragedy may be avoided."
Many Sahel countries including Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Chad
are also threatened by a major food shortage and will also need help in the
coming months. (end)
KUNA 021212 Jan 12NNNN