The Mauritanian government on Sunday appealed for urgent food aid from "friendly countries and organisations", saying that inadequate rain had worsened food security in rural parts of the country.
"The long delay [in the advent] of autumn this year and the great rainfall deficit recorded so far has led to the deterioration of the food situation in our rural areas...," the Minister of the Interior, Posts and Telecommunications, Lemrabet Sidi Mahmoud Ould Cheikh Ahmed, told members of the diplomatic corps and heads of international organisations.
Nothing was expected from the farmlands since most of them depended on rainfall, said Cheikh Ahmed. Even the dams were now empty and pastoralists were living in fear that the many livestock would die as a result of lack of pasture, the government Mauritanian News Agency quoted him as saying.
"In order to face this worrying situation, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania addresses an appeal to friendly countries and organisations to supply it with urgent food aid estimated at 38,000 mt of grain and 14,000 mt of complementary materials to relieve affected citizens," he said.
"The Mauritanian government also seeks assistance in the spheres of veterinary [medicine] and fodder to face the dangers threatening the national animal wealth as a result of this situation," the minister added.
The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS Net) reported in July that rainfall had been insufficient throughout Mauritania.
This, it said, had had adverse impact on both crop and livestock farming, with pastoralists opting to migrate farther south to the areas bordering neighbouring Senegal and Mali in a bid to get pasture for their animals.
The food security situation was alarming, FEWS Net reported. It also noted that donors had not responded to the situation despite repeated appeals. However, the European Union had said it was ready to donate 6,000 mt of food in case of need, the report added.
Southwestern Mauritania was the worst hit part of the country, according to FEWS. However, the capital city, Nouakchott, and other big towns like Nouadhibou and Zouerate were also quite hard hit - and had seen rising prices - as people moved from rural to urban areas.
The FEWS report is available on: http://www.fews.net