| Development cooperation
|| Child sponsor program
The vast majority of Mauritania’s land area is covered by desert. The country’s only source of freshwater is the Senegal River, in the extreme south of the country, bordering Senegal. There is practically no vegetation in northern Mauritania, however, there are oases here and there, where it is possible to farm and to grow date trees. There is also pasture land along the coast, where cattle-rearing is an important form of livelihood. Mauritania continually suffers from droughts.
FELM’s partner organisation in Mauritania is the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Mauritania is an Islamic country, where Islam is the official religion. Mission organisations are not permitted to work in the country, however, the work of LWF is permitted and is valued by the government.
Mauritania was severely affected by drought in the 1970s. As a result of the drought trees died and sand threatened to cover the eastern parts of the capital city, Nouakchott.
LWF began work, with a local organisation, to prevent desertification: this was done through planting trees and making fences from the branches of bushes. Slowly, it was possible to plant bushes and trees. This kind of ‘green belt’ has already been built around Nouakchott. At the present time, LWF is continuing to share this important technique, especially in the east of the country, where desertification is a major problem.
The chief goal of LWF in Mauritania is to fight against poverty, while upholding human rights. Literacy and education are the bases of development, however, in Mauritania, those without identification papers are not entitled to education. Therefore, an important task of LWF in Mauritania is informing people of their rights and of the steps they can take to ensure that they are upheld. The vast majority of the children in the villages within the project area are now enrolled in education. Women’s groups have also received literacy training, which has enabled some of them to take out small loans for the establishment of village stores, mills and agricultural land. In some villages women earn a livelihood through traditional handicrafts.
When the harvest is poor, due to drought or locusts, people move to the cities in search of help and sources of income. There are few work opportunities, however, and children, in particular, are threatened by malnutrition as there is little food. In Mauritania, there are regular climactic extremes- periods of drought, followed by floods- and for this reason, disaster preparedness has become important aspect of community training programmes.
The HIV and AIDS situation in Mauritania is not as serious as in some other African countries. Statistics show that slightly under one per cent of the population are HIV positive. LWF carries out awareness raising work concerning both HIV and AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.
Awareness raising work is also carried out concerning the dangers of female circumcision, women’s and children’s rights and educational rights. LWF also does advocacy work on these themes.