Resettling Refugees in Mauritania
In 1989, violent ethnic conflicts and mounting pressures on limited natural resources in Mauritania resulted in the forceful expulsion of approximately 40,000 people to Senegal and Mali and the destruction of many native villages throughout the Rosso and Matam-Bakel regions of southern Mauritania. The approximately 24,000 refugees still outside Mauritania are beginning to return home. However, the country, which is heavily dependent on agriculture, is facing serious desertification, food shortages, and deforestation challenges, making their reintegration into society difficult.
IRD is working with more than 3,500 returnees, who have been in asylum in Senegal for 20 years and have been repatriated as part of the 2008 Government of Mauritania organized return to best make use of land that has been given to them and to maintain a dignified quality of life.
- Preparation of 240 hectares of land and irrigation systems. Participants will clear and fence the land, protecting future crops from livestock, and will also install locally produced “bucket kit” drip irrigation systems.
- Distribution of seeds and tools. IRD will contribute US$200,000 in seeds and tools. Seeds will be agro-ecologically appropriate and adapted to growing in the areas, including watermelon, sorrel (spinach dock), onions, carrots, tomato, corn, cauliflower, rice, peanuts, sweet potato, and peppers.
- Construction and implementation of hydroponic micro-gardens. IRD will train 1,800 people in the construction of home hydroponic micro-gardens for small-scale production of mint and other herbs. Wood, plastic sheets, foam boards, and herbicide will be distributed to and managed by 100 women, who will construct their tables to start gardens that provide year round production and income.
- Reinforcing women’s association-managed community-driven input banks. IRD will work with six women’s associations and cooperatives to set up input banks (livestock, agricultural, or artisanal), which lend only on the basis of explicit contracts where profits and risks are shared.
- Provide nutrition education sessions and essential supplies. Agronomists will train people on basic nutrition, including culinary demonstrations and promotion of increased vegetable consumption. IRD will also provide $190,000 worth of blankets (for the upcoming cold season), health kits, and layettes.
IRD implemented the Resettling Refugees in Mauritania program with funding from the US Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM).