Projects in Mauritania

Building Educational Resilience of Vulnerable Out-of-School Youth & Adolescents in Mbera Refugee Camp (2021-2023)

RET implemented the project “Building Educational Resilience of Vulnerable Out-of-School Youth & Adolescents in Mbera Refugee Camp” in Mauritania. The project aims to reach out-of-school adolescents and youth (refugee & host) to provide them with Secondary Education, Functional Literacy, and Numeracy classes (FLNP), in addition to Protection and Psychosocial Support.

The project targeted 15,482 direct beneficiaries (13,982 refugees and 1,500 host community beneficiaries) and 41,448 indirect beneficiaries. The project goal is to enhance the educational resilience and psychosocial wellbeing of out-of-school ‘vulnerable youth and adolescents’ who are not covered by any other organization in the Mbera refugee ramp. To achieve this goal, RET works on improving vulnerable youth and adolescents’ access to accredited education, developing teaching human capital in the Mbera refugee camp, and improving the psychosocial wellbeing of vulnerable refugees residing in the camp. Moreover, RET provided protection services that build on RET’s field mission findings intended to address the existing protection service gaps and respond to the vulnerable under-served population’s protection needs.

The forms of gender-based violence most prevalent in camp and local communities outside continue to be: child forced marriage, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation (FGM), rape, and physical assault. While poverty and household socioeconomic vulnerability often pave the way to forced marriages, the latter is perceived as a ‘protection marriage,’ protecting young girls from premarital sex, a pregnancy outside marriage, sexual assault, and rape. In reality, it compromises a girl’s future by resulting in early pregnancy, interrupting her schooling, and placing her at increased domestic violence risk.

RET’s intervention within this project aims at ensuring inclusive and equitable access to educational opportunities, in line with “SDG 4: Education” through a three-pillared approach that addresses the gap in transitioning to secondary education of school-aged and over-age learners; focuses on bridging the qualification-gap and enhancing returns in the classroom through capacity building; and endorses “a gender-balanced approach” to youth agency pillared around cultivating leadership, in tandem with supporting youth resilience, as a conduit for conflict transformation and sustainable

This project, was implemented between September 2020 & September 2021 and is implemented between 2022- 2023 by RET in Mauritania.

Reintegrate out-of-school children into the education system and preventing school dropout in the Hodh Chargui region of Mauritania. (2021-2022)

Quality education is the basis for developing sustainable, independent communities and stable societies. Despite significant progress at the national level, challenges remain in the primary education system in Mauritania, both on the demand and supply side. According to the 2015 MICS report, the demand refers to a general lack of interest in schooling and the need to work, with the decision to end schooling being mainly taken by the family. The supply side refers to a lack of adequate school infrastructure/materials and a limited qualification of teachers.

Despite the efforts made by the government to address these challenges, the education system continues to suffer from problems of access to education, coupled with a poor perception of the communities on the national education system, both formal and non-formal (literacy), as well as on the quality of the educational service due to the limited language skills of teachers. Hence, an innovative educational program is needed to reintegrate these children, who are often in a vulnerable situation. To bridge those gaps, RET set up:

  1. a 9-month accelerated learning program in RET’s alternative education centers, intending to reintegrate out-of-school children into formal primary schools, 
  2. RET supported schools to create an enabling environment and provide quality education to prevent vulnerable children from dropping out of school and finally,
  3. RET built the capacity of APE/CGE members to improve the management of their school; effective and efficient program management has accompanied all these efforts.

This project has touched 4,147 direct beneficiaries (students, out-of-school children, teachers, members of the APE/CGE), in addition to approximately 25,233 indirect beneficiaries (family members of direct beneficiaries, community members). RET chose areas with schools serving large numbers of students to maximize the number of beneficiaries reached by the program. In addition to supporting at-risk students in these formal primary schools, RET also provided an accelerated education to out-of-school children to reintegrate them into the formal education system. The gender aspect was an essential element of this program. Girls being the most disadvantaged group in the Mauritanian education system. To this end, RET adopted an integrated approach that aimed not only to educate girls but also to strengthen the role and capacities of women in the targeted communities.

As part of this project, training were organized for teachers in the fight against violence and inequalities in the school environment (corporal punishment, gender-based violence, etc.) To successfully execute this project, RET closely worked with the Ministry of Education and involved ministry staff in the training and development of the project content and approach. Concerning the sustainability of interventions, this program adopted a participatory approach to strengthening the sustainability of activities. APEs/CGEs were mobilized, trained, and supported in managing their schools and have a better capacity to manage them in the future.

RET’s actions were carried out in close collaboration with the leading local players in education, namely the DRENs and the IDENs. By implementing this integrated approach and involving local actors, RET aimed to strengthen the sustainability of project results.

This project was implemented between March 2021 and June 2022, in partnership with UNICEF in Mauritania.

Peaceful coexistence and livelihoods support project in the Moughataa of Bassikounou. (2021)

The project enhanced the peaceful coexistence between Malian refugees and the host community in 6 villages through various livelihood support measures. Since January 2012, Mauritania has been hosting Malian refugees fleeing the insecurity situation linked to political instability in northern Mali. Since 2012, the Moughataa of Bassikounou, in south-eastern Mauritania, has been hosting more than 56,000 Malian refugees who fled the unrest and insecurity in their country in the Mbera camp and the surrounding villages. This influx of people into the region poses several challenges, especially in terms of social cohesion in this region: host populations, as well as refugees, depend on agricultural activities, mainly transhumant livestock farming, for their food and income, and the presence of refugees represents competition for access to natural resources. From an environmental point of view, refugees’ presence means additional pressure on natural resources leading to their deterioration. This deterioration of the environment is likely to accentuate the tensions between host populations and refugees significantly. It is important to note that the refugee population continues to increase and exceed the host community’s population.

To ensure peaceful coexistence between communities, RET will promote economic and social development activities by creating income-generating activities and developing resources to encourage diversification of economic activities for women and men. Given that the refugees’ activities have significant environmental impacts in the Moughataa of Bassiknou (impoverishment of natural resources, soil degradation, deforestation, pollution, etc.), the project will also implement awareness-raising and training sessions for actors on adaptation and mitigation techniques. Moreover, RET will ensure green SMEs’ creation through actions of soil restoration, nurseries, reforestation, agro-ecology and management, monitoring and surveillance, etc …) According to studies carried out by the UNHCR on value chains and socioeconomic profiling of households, there are real investment opportunities at the local level, in sectors and niches that promise and provide jobs for Malian refugees than for the host populations.

The project contributes to mitigating tension between the refugees and the host community through actions to improve the host populations’ living conditions, empowerment, and resilience and strengthen peaceful coexistence between the two communities. This project will emphasize the involvement of women, young people, minorities, and the community’s poorest and most vulnerable groups.

Main activities:

  1. Environment and peaceful management of natural resources.
  2. Promotion of crafts and trade.
  3. Diversification of women’s and men’s economic activities.

The project proposed relevant activities:

  • (1) to structure small agricultural producers into a transhumance management  committee and train in horticultural techniques, reforestation, and soil restoration,
  •  (2)to manage the natural resources through the constitution of a community program that brings together all the key actors (host communities, civil society, and local authorities and refugees),
  •  (3) to establish relations between refugee herders and host populations to ensure sound management of the sharing of pastures and the distribution of limited resources and to promote crafts and trade for women,
  •  (4)to train the participants on the techniques of artisan productions from local products,
  •  (5)to manage artisanal processing units of local products (milk, leather, etc.) in Bassiknou, Fassala, and Megva,
  •  (6)to establish efficient monitoring of activities linked to the co-management and to guarantee a system for managing complaints and feedback,
  •  (7)to sell the products online to international markets through RET’s Leap Natural brand, which sells the products to diverse global customers and the beneficiaries’ products,
  •  (8)to generate income for women (75%) and men (15%) in identified sector niches (cutting and sewing, processing of agricultural products, trade, various services, etc.)
  •  (9)to establish green small and medium-sized enterprises SMEs that comply with the strategic approach in the selected value chains, taking into account local markets and involving beneficiaries in the design of projects;
  •  (10)to raise awareness on the “Do No Harm” to benefit the host and refugee communities.

The project is implemented according to the concerted execution approach with beneficiaries and local communities, in partnership with decentralized State services and private structures, to create the conditions for an immediate and lasting impact on the empowerment of this project’s target host populations.

This project, completed between January 2021 and December 2021, was implemented in partnership with UNHCR in Mauritania.