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Sahel Adaptive Social Protection Program




Mauritania is a vast, arid, lower-middle-income country whose economic growth is based on natural resources. Mauritania is one of the least densely populated countries in the world, with five inhabitants per square kilometer. The rural population accounts for 41% of the total, with 60% of whom depending on agriculture and livestock for their livelihood.

Compared to much of the Sahel, Mauritania suffers from lower poverty levels. However, significant gaps in human capital endowment hinder economic growth and contribute to chronic poverty (Mauritania’s Human Capital Index is 0.38). Many Mauritanians face limited access to services such as education and infrastructure, which limits human capital accumulation and access to jobs. In addition, limited access to services such as hospital care undermines productivity and resilience and reduces the ability of households to absorb adverse shocks.

Mauritania is highly vulnerable to climate fluctuations and economic shocks. Forecasts indicate a potential temperature rise of 2 to 4.5 degrees Celsius over the next fifty years. The national food and livestock production is strongly impacted by climatic fluctuations and experiences severe volatility. As a result of this – and of persisting poverty and inequalities - large portions of the population are still experiencing food and nutrition insecurity, reaching very high levels during lean seasons.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a contraction in the economy of 1.5 percent in 2020, pushing an estimated 48,000 people into extreme poverty. The global inflation crisis and the war in Ukraine are further worsening the food security situation in Mauritania, with over 800,000 individuals needing assistance during the 2022 lean season. In the same year, Mauritania also experienced one of its worst floods in the southern and central regions, affecting around 40,000 people. Additionally, Mauritania hosts over 110,000 Malian refugees.

SASPP Activities

The Mauritania SASPP activities are anchored in the Social Safety Net System Project II (SSNSP), which seeks to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the nationwide adaptive safety net system and increase coverage. It focuses on supporting the Social Registry, which provides an effective and transparent mechanism to target poor and vulnerable households; increasing the coverage of the national social transfer program Tekavoul; and financing part of the national response to shocks, through the shock-responsive social safety net program named Elmaouna  to reach food-insecure households during the lean season. To date, with the support of the SSNSP, the social registry includes nearly 225,000 of the poorest households and has achieved its national reach objective. A comprehensive update of the social registry is underway and has already covered more than half of the country's Moughataas. In addition, the Tekavoul program reaches almost 100,000 poor households with regular cash transfers and accompanying measures. The forthcoming entry of Nouakchott will enable 42,000 households to join the program.

Mauritania Social Safety Net System Project II

Project duration: FY20 - ongoing


  • Initial financing of $45 million from IDA (International Development Association) and $7 million from the SASPP Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) in FY20

  • Additional Financing of $13 million from the SASPP MDTF in FY21

  • A parallel co-financing by AFD, for an amount of Euros 5 million

  • Additional Financing (subject to Board approval) of USD 26 million from IDA and USD 10 million from MDTF to be effective from fiscal 2025. 

Note: Prior to this engagement, the Social Safety Net System Project provided support, with financing of $15 million from IDA and $4 million from the SASPP MDTF (approved in FY15).

The SASPP also supported expanding the 2021 and 2022 lean season responses in view of the lasting and overlapping effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the Mauritania benefitted from an additional financing from SASPP in 2021, which allowed the government to support over 36,000 households during the 2021 lean season, and from an AFD parallel co-financing. Technical assistance was also provided to the government, to prepare future lean season responses, particularly for the institutionalization of the Permanent Shock Response Framework (Dispositif National d’Alerte Précoce et de Réponse aux Chocs-DCAN, institutionalized by decree in April 2021).  

Efforts to improve coordination were also reflected in the official creation of the National Fund for the Response to the Food and Nutrition Crisis (FNRCAN) by a decree signed on May 11, 2022. This fund is an important financing tool for the government and was activated for the first time during the 2023 lean season. SASPP's ambition is to continue its support for social safety nets in Mauritania as part of a possible second additional financing package with a USD 10 million grant from the MDTF, which would enable continued support for the social register (finalization of the full update, pilot for continuous updating, etc.), support economic inclusion measures for households exiting Tekavoul as well as host and refugee households in Hodh El Chargui, and continue to support shock response programs (shock response funding, operationalization of FNRCAN, etc.).