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Terre des hommes (Tdh) has been active in Mauritania since 1984 and runs programmes promoting the health and protection of children and their families. In 2014, nearly 51,000 people benefited from Tdh’s activities.


Mauritania is affected by two major crises. On one hand, the ongoing political crisis in Mali is causing thousands of Touaregs to flee to Mauritania, a country with a very similar culture. Officially, 89,000 people are living in refugee camps, where promiscuity and insecurity pose the greatest risks for children. Because these camps are located in the conflict zones, they are difficult to access, and Caucasians are not permitted to enter, thus limiting the possibilities of humanitarian intervention. Furthermore, the food crisis in the Sahel has not spared Mauritania. Marked by a significant lack of rain, 2011 ushered in a severe drought, affecting agriculture and livestock and exposing the population to food insecurity. The country is also vulnerable to the effects of the global financial crisis, and the price of staple goods continues to rise. Despite efforts undertaken by the government, the results of health and social projects remain poor and insufficiently documented.

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The current situation

• 117,000 births per year (CH: 76,000)
• 34% of babies weigh less than 2.5kg at birth
• 56% of the births are not officially registered
• 91‰ children die before they are 5 (CH: 4‰)
• 16% of children aged between 5 and 14 work
• 33.3% of the young girls are married off before they are 18, of whom 14.8% are under 15

(Sources: Tdh, UNDP, UNICEF, Ministry of Social, Childhood and Family Affairs)

Tdh in Mauritania: Country Representative: Enrique Medina Jarquin • National employees: 15 • Expatriate Staff: 1 • Areas of intervention: Nouakchott and Nouadhibou • Partners: Ministry of Health, Regional Department for Health and Social Welfare and for Children, Association of Female Heads of Households, Unicef • 2015 Budget: CHF 1'175’976.-

Our intervention

Health and nutrition – Tdh intervenes in Nouakchott to improve the health and nutrition of children and their mothers. Thanks to training from national healthcare workers, women and children receive help in preventing, diagnosing and treating illnesses, including malnutrition.

Protection of children working as domestics – Tdh fights against the exploitation of young and teenage girls employed as domestic workers. In partnership with the Association of Female Heads of Households, these “servants” are identified, supported and assisted in their social and professional reintegration.

Child protection systems – Tdh supports the creation of communal systems to ensure the well-being of children, bringing together communities, public authorities and the civil society.

Specialised care – Tdh offers specialised care to the most impoverished children when their condition requires it. If they cannot be treated locally, children are sent to Europe to be operated on.

2014 Results

• 30 children who were suffering from incurable illnesses in Mauritania were taken to Europe for specialised care
• 3,635 young domestic workers benefitted from juvenile justice support
• 2,606 children who were suffering from acute malnutrition were treated
• 9,434 women took part in cooking demonstrations

What Tdh can do with:

CHF 30.–
Educational reintegration of a child domestic worker.

CHF 35.–
Nutritional support for a malnourished child.

CHF 100.–
Professional reintegration of a child domestic worker.


Mauritanie - Roughiatou, Tdh beneficiary in Mauritania

Roughiatou, four and a half, or the story of a revival. Her health troubles began when she was six months old: she hardly grew, no longer put on weight, and she was seldom hungry.

- Mauritanie - Roughiatou, Tdh beneficiary in Mauritania

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