Mauritania Woman Becomes First Female Veterinarian in her Pastoral Community

February 11, 2015

Counterpart trains leaders to become solution creators, empowering one woman to break the gender barricade for the good of her community.

Magham, Mauritania is a pastoral village with 300 residents and 2,500 cattle. It’s a community that relies on animals for its livelihood, and Aminetou Mint Ahmed is its first female veterinary assistant.

Traditionally, Magham’s men herd cattle and tend to sick animals while the women look after smaller livestock such as sheep. When prolonged drought forced most of the area’s men to lead their herds much further away from the village, no one was left to provide veterinary care.

“Usually our animals are the only valuable property we have,” said Aminetou. “They are both our livelihood and our emergency fund in case of a natural disaster. They need to be well cared for.”

Aminetou had never considered treating animals before, but she decided to pursue veterinary training to help her community preserve their main livelihood. She is one of 26 veterinary assistants trained in the Trarza region through Counterpart’s Community Action Nutrition and Livelihoods (CANAL) project.

“It was hard at first because no one trusted me—not even my own family,” said Aminetou. “I thought about quitting, but gradually people heard about the good work I was doing. Now people travel from other villages to bring me their animals. Every day I gain confidence in my ability as a woman vet,” said Aminetou. “I work full time now and it makes me feel useful to my village. I am not going anywhere, my help is here to stay.”

Aminetou provides routine checkups and other veterinary services, along with dispensing essential medicine, free of charge for those most in need. For more complicated procedures, Aminetou consults her trainer from the Ministry of Rural Development. Aminetou also watches for disease and reports unusual signs or patterns to the Ministry to help prevent any outbreak that could potentially devastate large numbers of animals.

From 2006 to 2012, CANAL helped communities develop sustainable solutions to food scarcity and improve the health and nutrition of mothers and children. The project trained 600 community health workers to treat common diseases and teach preventative medicine, and organized village committees in 160 communities. By training women like Aminetou to sustain livelihoods in their communities, Counterpart is helping communities overcome today’s challenges while building for the future.

Program: Community Action Nutrition and Livelihoods (CANAL)
Funded By: United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Partners: Kosmos Energy, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), U.S. Embassy – Nouakchott

This story is a part of our #LeadMore series, recognizing our local partners and community leaders.



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