Food crisis in Mauritania amid drought
Nouakchott - A food crisis in Mauritania as a result of drought is expected to be three times worse that in 2010, when the Sahel was crippled by food shortages, the World Food Programme said on Thursday.
"The levels of food insecurity are three times higher than in the same period in 2012," said a WFP report, highlighting the impact of poor rains and rising food prices.
WFP said about 700 000 people are currently going hungry in the west African nation, calling for "urgent action to help the poorest households and avoid a major humanitarian crisis".
Since January Mauritania with the support of the international community has carried out a $148m project, "Hope 2012", amongst others, will see 2 400 shops open selling subsidised food products.
The Sahel belt edging the Sahara desert stretches from Senegal to Eritrea is particularly sensitive to drought and famine. In 2010 some 10 million people were affected by a severe food crisis in the region.
This year NGOs have raised the alarm after poor rains in 2011.
Oxfam said the lack of rains saw harvests drop 25% compared to 2010, leaving more than one million children threatened with severe malnutrition.
The crisis has so far affected Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger but the UN has also raised concerns over Burkina Faso, Senegal and northern parts of Nigeria and Cameroon.
In January the EU announced it was doubling aid to the Sahel to €95m in a "race against time" as 23 million people began 2012 facing "huge uncertainty about how they will feed themselves and their families".