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Un Food Agency Appeals For Urgent Funds

Un Food Agency Appeals For Urgent Funds For Mauritania

Facing a complete break in supplies in Mauritania at the end of next month, the United Nations World Food Programme (<“>WFP) today called on the international community to urgently come up with $4 million to fund its vital food aid operation for nearly 400,000 people so that the desert nation can pull through the most difficult months of the year.

The work of WFP, the government and other organizations has gone a long way towards helping the poor deal with these difficult times, but this year we face a situation where we simply don't have the funds to continue our assistance beyond July, WFP Country Director in Mauritania, Sory Ouane said.

What we need to cover the next few months is not a huge amount, he added of the approaching lean season when food needs are at their annual peak.

In the past decade, the West African country has suffered from a series of natural disasters including floods, droughts and locust infestations, which have left the poorest people living an increasingly fragile existence.

Most at risk from the looming break in supplies are WFP's community cereal reserves, which allow villagers access to food just when the cost of cereals spirals beyond the reach of many. Should there be a break in supplies, about 350,000 people will have these cereal rations cut by 50 percent.

As the cost of food rises in Mauritania, livestock prices have dipped by as much as 22 per cent in some areas and recent famine early warning reports have warned that market prices are limiting purchasing power to a worrying extent and damaging household food security. Many rural communities are already deeply in debt - something the cereal reserves are intended to combat.

WFP is looking for cash donations to allow for the rapid purchase and distribution of suitable food. The nutritional well-being of young children is of particular concern.

In some areas of Mauritania, malnutrition rates are already close to the internationally recognised emergency threshold and a particularly difficult lean season will only worsen the situation.

“The simple fact is many of Mauritania's rural poor - some of the poorest in the world - are relying on WFP, the government and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to sustain them during this lean season, Mr. Ouane said.

WFP's relief operation in Mauritania aims to feed a total of 382,400 people in 2006 through support to village food reserves, food-for-work projects and nutritional feeding to children under five and pregnant and breast-feeding women.


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