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Terre des hommes’ activities in Mauritania are focused on eliminating child exploitation and trafficking and supporting the social and professional reintegration of children affected by these issues. Tdh also aims to improve health and nutrition among children and families.

The situation in Mauritania

66% of the Mauritania’s population lives below the poverty line. Many children do not have a roof over their heads and are forced to work on the streets. Making a living in rural areas and in the surrounding countries is tough. As a result, many parents send their children to the main towns in Mauritania to work as domestic maids and servants. These children are often exploited, with some being forced to work more than 15 hours a day without pay.

What we do

Fighting exploitation

Our representatives in Mauritania are working to put an end to child exploitation, particularly with regard to young girls working as servants. Tdh works in tandem with a local association to find and help these young maids. We offer them legal aid and help them to resume their studies or start a training course, so that they can have a brighter future. We have provided support to approximately 5,000 exploitation victims since 2012. To prevent these practices from persisting, we also work to raise awareness among local communities of the dangers surrounding child labour.

Child protection

Tdh has paired up with social protection, education, health and justice bodies on the ground to help identify children that may be vulnerable to exploitation. We then help those children to obtain a birth certificate so that they are legally registered or to receive medical treatment, according to their needs. We help children return to school, enrol in a professional training course, and even take part in socio-educational activities. We also provide support to youths who are in trouble with the law.

Mother and child health

Tdh organises training sessions for volunteers and health professionals so that they can take care of children with certain illnesses or suffering from malnutrition. We also inform them of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding. Mothers can take part in cooking classes where they can learn important nutritional information, allowing them to ensure they are providing their children with a balanced diet. Our teams on the ground have also repaired and built toilets to improve hygiene conditions in the health centres, in addition to providing access to drinking water. In 2015, Tdh was instrumental in improving the health of more than 37,000 children.

Specialised care

As part of our specialised care programme, we arrange for impoverished children that cannot receive the necessary medical treatment in Mauritania to be transferred to one of our partner hospitals in Switzerland. There they can be examined and undergo surgery. Once they have fully recovered from their procedure (often heart-related), they can return home. One of our local partners then follows their progress to ensure that they remain in good health. In 2015, 135 children were treated thanks to this programme.

Hoping to provide Fatou with opportunities for the future, her parents sent her to work for a Mauritanian family as a domestic servant. However, the situation quickly deteriorated. Fatou’s employers began abusing her, beating her daily and withholding her

Fatou, a former domestic servant


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Terre des hommes in Mauritania

Beneficiaries in 2015

67’057 people

Expatriate staff / National staff

1 / 25 and 75 volunteers

2016 Budget

CHF 821’625.-

Programme locations

Nouakchott, Nouadhibou, Rosso

Local partners

Department for Children, Regional Department for Health and Social Welfare and for Children, Department for the Legal Protection of Children, Special Unit for Minors, National Cardiology Centre, Association of Female Heads of Households, Association for Children and Development in Mauritania


Where we work

Supported by


Terre des hommes starts working in Mauritania with the opening of two health centres on the outskirts of Nouakchott. Tdh begins transferring children in need of specialised surgery to Europe.
Terre des hommes implements a legal and social support system for youths and launches a training programme for professionals in the area of justice for minors.
Creation of the first special unit to treat children suffering from severe malnutrition.
Launch of a pilot project for the protection and reintegration of children exploited as domestic servants. First rolled out in Nouakchott and then in several other towns.
Launch of a care system for children suffering from malnutrition in nine hospitals in Nouakchott
Implementation of a child protection and juvenile justice project in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.

Related publications

Making an Impact for Children: Annual Report 2015.
Specialised care programme - Annual Report 2015
Thematic policy - Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Related publications