Thousands of Mauretanian farmers and their families have left their land and fled to the coast in the face of the region's worst drought since 1973.
Thousands of Mauretanian farmers and their families have left their land and fled to the coast in the face of the region's worst drought since 1973. Mauretania is one of eight countries forming the Sahel, the belt south of the Sahara, which has been in the grip of a severe drought for more than a year.
SYNOPSIS: In Nouakchott, the Mauretanian capital on the African West coast, the drought refugees have crammed into makeshift camps made of tents, huts and shanties.
The United Nations World Food Programme has been shipping extra supplies to help the refuges, but Reuters News Agency reports that much more emergency food will have to be sent to the region to feed the ever-growing number of people fleeing from the drought.
The original estimates put Mauretania's emergency food needs 25,000 tonnes, but with the worsening of the drought over the past few months, the figure has jumped to more than double that. In the capital, there has not been any rain at all for over a year, and in the country's interior, some parts have been without rain for even longer.
Most of the refugees in Nouakchott are farming families who have abandoned their land. Normally they plant millet, maize and general crops during August, when the rains are due, but last year all attempts failed. Other countries in the Sahel which have been hard-hit by the drought are Gambia, Senegal and the Cape Verde Islands.