ARLINGTON, VA., Counterpart International today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide $22.5 million to implement development activities in Mauritania to support multi-sectoral national strategies, and improve education, nutrition, health, and access to water, sanitation, and hygiene for school children.
Counterpart will lead the implementation of this new five-year program (2019-2024) – The Future is Ours – in collaboration with local partners, ARED, EcoDev, and ONG Actions, to assist the Government of Mauritania to reduce hunger, improve health, and strengthen the primary education system. The program will benefit 127,100 students in 209 schools in the regions of Brakna and Gorgol through integrated activities aligned with national education and health policies. Counterpart will also work with Ministries of Health and Education, schools, parents’ associations, community members, and non-government agencies to:
- Increase student attendance by providing nutritious daily school meals across 209 primary schools;
- Improve the literacy of school age children through the implementation of a multi-layered pilot program;
- Enhance health and dietary practices by providing access to deworming medications and increasing knowledge of nutrition, hygiene, and safe food preparation and storage practices;
- Improve school infrastructure and increase access to clean water and sanitation by building storerooms, latrines, and water station systems; and
- Increase the capacity of national stakeholders to improve the quality of the primary school system and lead and maintain sustainable school feeding programs.
“Counterpart is grateful to again partner with USDA on our new project, The Future is Ours. This project provides a vital and sustainable safety net for food-insecure children living in Mauritania, while supporting critical sanitation and child education and development initiatives,” said Dr. Ann Hudock, President and CEO of Counterpart International. “Counterpart believes that only through community-led partnerships with committed, knowledgeable, and engaged partners will any development solution be successful and sustainable,” said Dr. Hudock. “We look forward to building on our successful and longstanding partnership with USDA as we continue with Mauritania on its journey to self-reliance.”
Although Mauritania is making progress towards meeting some of its development goals, it is still ranked 161 out of 189 countries on the 2018 Human Development Index. While over 75% of the population depends on subsistence agriculture and pastoralism, two-thirds of Mauritania consists of desert and faces reoccurring natural disasters such as drought, locusts, and flooding. Consequently, Mauritania has a chronic food deficit.
Over the past five years, food insecurity rates have hovered between 25 to 30% in the lean season, leading to stunting and acute malnutrition, negatively impacting students’ ability to attend school and learn. The effects of food insecurity are exacerbated by the lack of water and access to sanitation for approximately one-third of the population in the country. Being constantly hungry, thirsty, or sick disproportionately impacts young children and youth, hindering their ability to reach their full potential.
In Mauritania, with support from United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Counterpart implemented the Community Action, Nutrition and Livelihoods (CANAL) project from 2006 to 2013, which focused on increasing food security in Mauritania’s most insecure regions (Gorgol, Guidimaka, Assaba, and Hodh El Gharbi regions). Counterpart later worked with the pastoral communities in the Trarza region and assisted 33,986 direct beneficiaries in response to food deficits and associated increases in households’ vulnerability.
Counterpart also implemented the Barkeol Nutrition and Economic Recovery (BANER) Program (2014 – 2016), an initiative focused on improving nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), economic recovery and market systems in the Guiller, Lebher, and Laouessi communities in the Barkeol Department, Assaba Region.
About Counterpart International
For over 50 years, Counterpart International has forged partnerships with communities and local organizations to build inclusive, sustainable communities in which people thrive. Our current project portfolio is focused on education, food security and agricultural development, effective governance, institutional strengthening, and economic development.
For more information, please visit Counterpart.org.