Mauritania is currently going through a double crisis: (i) food shortage (with 70,000 people affected) caused by the lack of rain in 2011 and heightened by the constantly increasing cost of basic foodstuff, and (ii) humanitarian, linked to the influx of refugees from Mali (according to official statistics, more than 100,000 refugees are presently living in the Mbere camp set up in the extreme south-east of Mauritania).
Such a situation generates various consequences in terms of danger: the growing number of cases of malnutrition, the increased risk of water-borne diseases and the increased vulnerability of the people most exposed to danger – i.e. women and children.
To fight these ills, the government has adopted an emergency plan, appealing to all the actors currently on the spot, including Terre des hommes, active locally in partnership with UNICEF.
The final purpose of the project is to have 43,000 children under five and 13,000 nursing mothers given better respect of their fundamental rights, in particular in terms of health and protection in times of crisis. To reach this goal, the project also plans to train 80 workers in health and protection.
Some improvements for the children…
To remedy the shortage of sanitary and hygiene installations, two day-care centres for checking young children within Terre des hommes’ partner health centres will be set up in Nouakchott. These centres will thus encourage better identification and treatment of children’s diseases.
Whilst these day-care centres will help prevent sickness and death in children, the project also plans the parallel development of networks of community intermediaries for the purposes of prevention of disease and child protection
… and for their mothers?
Parallel to the centres, two advisory units will give advice to expectant mothers on questions of breastfeeding and pre- and post-natal care and the services that accompany them. These services include, for example, systematic care for nursing mothers who are hospitalised after complications in pregnancy.
Planned is support for the health services so they can, in addition, go out to communities far from the health centres. During this field work, so-called “advanced strategies”, activities for prevention, care and follow-up are scheduled to provide for integrated responses.
Training to promote knowledge
Training is considered indispensible for the good functioning of the advisory units and the day-care centres, but also for the health workers active in the communities.
With regard to the situation of the humanitarian and food crisis, the women and the children seem to be the most vulnerable of all, which presupposes the provision of the special responses needed for sanitation and in terms of protection.