Worst drought since 2012 hits Mauritania hardest among Sahel countries

Mauritania is facing its worst drought conditions since 2012 and faring worse than any country in the Sahel that has experienced rainfall deficits in the past decade, according to a new report from the International Federation of Energy Societies. Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC).

At least 34 of the 48 regions are affected, especially those in the south of the country. This leaves 1.4 million people at risk of food insecurity, following a disappointing 2021 rainy season that was recorded at 81% of Mauritanian monitoring stations. Persistent drought, as well as regional conflicts, have led to escalating challenges.

“In all agricultural areas, the situation is more than worrying due to the significant reduction in cultivable land and the expected level of production, which will be almost non-existent in most areas, except in the south of the country, where it will be low. “, says the report.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani has expressed concern that the drought is increasing the number of migrants and contributing to tensions and conflicts over resources.

Mauritania produced 40% less food than the five-year average, while Mali saw a drop of 15% and Burkina Faso about 10%. But beyond agriculture, Mauritania is also heavily dependent on livestock, with the sector contributing 22% of the national gross domestic product.

While Mauritania has experienced fewer direct conflicts than Mali and other countries in the Sahel, its pastoral communities have traditionally been able to cross the border into Mali with their herds. The violence in Mali has made it impossible to travel these same roads.

“The normal circuit of transhumance has been disrupted by the renewed tension in neighboring regions of Mali, leading to a high concentration of livestock on the national territory,” the report says, noting that the region of Hod Ech Chargui has been particularly affected. This has led to a lack of feed, medicine and other livestock resources.

The number of Malian refugees fleeing to Mauritania is adding to the crisis, according to the IFRC report.

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