Mauritania is one of the world’s most arid countries. Climate variability and prolonged periods of drought are affecting the economy and livelihoods of rural communities with increasing frequency. Projected changes in Mauritania’s climate include increased mean annual temperatures, decreased mean annual precipitation and increased frequency of high intensity events such as high-energy windstorms. These changes are expected to exacerbate the impacts already being observed (e.g. degradation of water resources, reduced crop productivity, deterioration in the livestock farming sector), especially as there is low capacity for climate change adaptation throughout the country and in rural areas in particular. The marginal nature of current lifestyles, which are highly dependent on natural resources, means that even a slight shift in timing and intensity of seasonal rainfall can have a severe impact on rural livelihoods.
In Mauritania, the EbA South project aims to restore degraded desert, dunes and savannah to stabilize soils against wind erosion. The project will establish 450 hectares of multi-use green belts, using drought resilient species. New livelihood options are being identified; these include fruit harvesting (e.g. Ziziphus mauritiana), collection of gum arabic, and processing of plant products (e.g. Balanites seeds) for producing cosmetics and food products (including products for own consumption and marketable products).