Mauritania: Mainstreaming Local Environmental Management in the Planning Process

Southwestern Mauritania faces considerable environmental problems, with deteriorating natural resources and populations living in conditions of poverty, precarious health and a lack of basic services. In rural areas, only 20% of households have access to sanitation and nearly two thirds of people live below the poverty line, further exacerbating resource degradation. The aim of this Joint Programme was to promote sustainable management of natural resources and access to water and sanitation, and to ensure that environmental issues are taken into account in national planning processes.

Taking a bottom up, participatory approach, the programme focused on tackling challenges linked to achieving the MDGs, based on two strategic outcomes. These were:

  1. Promote the sustainable management of natural resources, good hygiene practices and access to drinking water and sanitation through a participatory approach of the targeted populations;
  2. Strengthen national capacity to integrate environmental considerations into the planning process.

The project was implemented by the Ministry Delegate for the Environment, in collaboration with relevant departments, local communities, NGOs and grass roots organizations.

Main achievements included:

  • The Program created favorable conditions for restoring natural ecosystems in the targeted areas and for improving and diversifying the income of local communities.
  • Populations of the 155 areas of intervention, trained and supervised by about 30 NGOs, actively contributed to the regeneration of 800 hectares of gum trees, the development of 295 hectares of silvopasture, the stabilization of 742 hectares of dunes, and the protection of 5800 hectares of agricultural land, 65 schools, 14 health centers, 490 shops, 60 markets, 260 water points, and numerous traditional or modern habitats. 
  • Twenty hectares of mangroves were regenerated in the area of Diawling National Park. This required the cultivation and transplanting of 40,000 plants by the villagers. In addition, three classified forests were managed in a participatory manner by villagers organized in cooperatives and supported by NGOs.
  • The governance of the water sector improved substantially. The Standing Committee of the National Water Council is operational, the Planning and Integrated Water Management project was formulated, and its strategies were adopted by the National Water Council. In addition, 155 village committees and 25 village cooperatives were established.
  • Access to clean water was facilitated for nearly 28,000 beneficiaries in eight locations. More than 12,800 new households gained access to sanitation services and improved hygiene practices. More than 6,500 latrines were built by local communities. More than 260 sites in the Trarza region were certified free of defecation in the open air. More than 6,000 students and 90 teachers were trained in hygiene and sanitation. Six incinerators were established to destroy biomedical waste.
  • The programme strengthened national capacity to better understand the relationship between poverty and the environment, and facilitated the use of a strategic environmental and social assessment and an integrated ecosystem assessment for the first time in Mauritania. A national strategy for integrating the environment into public policy was developed, and the programme also contributed to integrating environmental considerations in the local planning process.
  • The state of the ecosystem and the link between poverty and environment were better understood thanks to an integrated assessment of wetland ecosystems in four areas. This study assessed potential services and benefits to be derived from these ecosystems as part of national efforts to fight poverty. A total of 102 environmental indicators and 36 combined indicators were developed. Three departments drew up Agenda 21 sustainable development action plans based on a participatory and integrated approach.


Click for more detailed results of the Joint Programmes in Mauritania (in French).



The Joint Programme in action


Programme Dates 14 Aug 2008 - 14 Aug 2012
Net funded amount $4,932,798
Participating UN agencies FAO, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, UNICEF, WFP, WHO
National partners Ministère Délégué auprès du Premier Ministre chargé de L’Environnement et du Développement Durable (MEDD), Ministère des Affaires Economiques et du Développement, Ministère du Développement Rural, Ministère du Santé, Ministère Hydraulique et de l’Assainissement (MHA)
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