The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has issued an urgent appeal for funds to help feed 250,000 Mauritanians who are threatened by serious food shortages as a result of drought and recent torrential rains.
The Rome-based agency is seeking $7.5 million for an operation that was launched at the start of April to provide 16,000 metric tons of aid for drought and rain victims over the next nine months.
As part of the relief effort, 70,000 people in the worst-hit areas north of Gorgol, north-east of Brakna and south-west of Assaba, will receive rations of rice, beans and vegetable oil from April through September. For four months beginning in June, 180,000 people in the Aleg Plateau, the Senegal River valley and south of the two Hodhs will be supplied with simple cereal rations.
In a statement released in Nouakchott on Sunday, WFP said that seasonal droughts and the poor distribution of rainfall in the 2001/2002 growing season, combined with exceptionally strong rain in mid-January, have created the risk of an unprecedented food crisis in Mauritania.
In an initial response to the growing crisis, WFP's Country Office launched an emergency operation to distribute some 500 tons of cereals in the first three months of 2002. Under its current budget, they agency is providing Mauritania with $ 22 million and 30,000 tons of aid over the next five years.