2 October 2007The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today appealed for urgent new funding to feed 470,000 people in Mauritania, warning that flooding is putting greater pressure on its dwindling supplies for both flood victims and returning refugees. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today appealed for urgent new funding to feed 470,000 people in Mauritania, warning that flooding is putting greater pressure on its dwindling supplies for both flood victims and returning refugees. WFP needs $3.8 million or 4,440 metric tons of food to head off a three-month break in supplies for Mauritania from this month. The flooding in Mauritania is part of a larger crisis affecting a wide swath of sub-Saharan Africa, where the agency is struggling to feed some 5 million flood victims from Mali and Niger in the west to Ethiopia and Uganda in the east. The situation is particularly critical in Mauritania because the number of food insecure people there has risen by 16 per cent since December. Some 420,000 people struggle to feed themselves at the best times, and half rely on WFP food to survive.“WFP made an appeal in March for Mauritania, but very little has been received so far, and if no fresh contributions are forthcoming now, we will have a total break in supply and thousands of people will be at risk,” Agency Country Director Gian Carlo Cirri said. The fight against malnutrition has achieved positive results in Mauritania, and supplementary feeding put in place by WFP and its partners in the past year has led to a decline in the number of malnourished children under 5 from 51,000 in February to 31,000 in August.“This is a fact,” Mr. Cirri said. “We know we can make a difference in fighting food insecurity and malnutrition, but we need continuous support. Unless additional funding is received, all these benefits for children will be washed away and we will be back where we started.”Floods and the expected repatriation from Senegal of 20,000 Mauritanian refugees who fled ethnic violence 18 years ago have added to the problem. Severe floods in the south and southeast have left 30,000 people without shelter and short of food.High rates of malnutrition and food insecurity in Mauritania are caused by the limited agricultural potential. Even in good crop years, yields can only cover 30 per cent of the needs of the population of nearly 3.3 million, leading to a high dependency on imports and markets.

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