Journal Issue

Islamic Republic of Mauritania

International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
August 2011
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Volume I


Mauritania prepared its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper in 2000 for the period 2001-2015, and it was enshrined in 2001 in the framework law on poverty reduction, making the PRSP the benchmark for medium- and long-term economic and social development.

Implementation of the PRSP is ensured through action plans, the first of which spanned four years and covered the period 2001-2004 and the second spanned five years and covered 2006-2010.

Prepared in the context of the HIPC Initiative, the PRSP has always been subject to broad-based consultations based on a participatory approach, involving government agencies, elected representatives, civil society, the private sector, and the technical and financial partners.

Initially, the PRSP comprised four strategic focus areas: (i) accelerate economic growth and stabilize the macroeconomic framework; (ii) anchor growth in the economic sphere directly benefiting the poor; (iii) ensure the development of human resources and expansion of basic services, and (iv) improve governance and build capacity.

During the drafting of the second action plan, 2006-2010, a fifth cross-cutting focus area designed to strengthen steering, monitoring, and coordination was introduced.

In 2010, a further revision was begun with the goal of drafting a third action plan that would cover the period 2011-2015. The revision was based on the review, diagnostic survey, and lessons learned from implementation of the PRSP II, as well as the outlook for the period 2011-2015.

The review of PRSP II showed that over the period 2006-2010 non-oil economic growth was 3.7 percent and economic growth, including oil revenues, was 4 percent or about half the 9.4 percent growth that had been forecast. This is due mainly to the: (i) weak performance of the oil sector; (ii) international food, energy, and financial crises; and (iii) different institutional changes experienced by the country during this period. However, it bears noting that a great deal of the achievements were recently funded from the central government’s own resources, particularly in the areas of infrastructure and basic services to benefit the poor.

There are a number of technical weaknesses evident in the implementation of the PRSP, notably: (i) weaknesses in planning, monitoring, and evaluation capacity in departments because of shortcomings in the statistical information system; (ii) weakness in mobilizing the programmed financial resources because of low absorption capacity; (iii) absence of a results-based management framework; (iv) a lack of ownership of the PRSP process by sectoral departments; (v) the low level of implementation of programmed actions and measures and the implementation of unplanned actions; (vi) lack of coordination among central and regional government staff; (vii) low involvement of local authorities in the drafting of regional strategies; (viii) low participation of the people benefiting from the projects designed for them; and (ix) the overlapping of projects in certain places and failure to seek synergies among the various interventions.

This document is structured into two chapters: (i) the chapter on the 2008 poverty survey, describes the profile, patterns and main factors influencing poverty; (ii) the second chapter presents a review of the implementation of the second action plan of the 2006-2010 PRSP.


1.1 Poverty is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon. The importance attached to poverty reduction through different development programs requires that a relevant diagnostic survey of poverty trends and the various factors influencing poverty has been conducted.

1.2 Based on the results of the 2008 EPCV, a further poverty survey was conducted. It confirmed the trend toward a decline in poverty since 1990 and prompted the following observations:

  • - The incidence of poverty in 2008 was 42 percent, a rate that, though lower than in 2004 (46.7 percent), was, however, still far from the target set for 2015, which is 25 percent.
  • - The data reveal less inequality in income measured by the Gini Index.
  • - Poverty continues to affect primarily rural areas, but is making inroads into urban areas. The population exodus leading to rapid urbanization fostered the creation of new pockets of poverty in rundown urban areas.
  • - Poverty seems to affect heads of household equally, regardless of gender. In fact, it is slightly lower among female heads of household (40.3 percent) than it is for male heads of household (42.6 percent)
  • - Self-employed farmers are still among the socio-economic groups worst affected by poverty with an incidence level in the region of 70 percent.


1.3 The poverty profile offers a clear view of its multidimensional character, which manifests itself in three ways: (i) income poverty; (ii) poverty in terms of living conditions; and (iii) poverty in terms of potentials.

a. Income Poverty

1.4 This is an income-based approach. Income includes everything earned by the individuals living on a regular basis under the same roof and pooling all or part of their personal income. That is what is referred to as a household, even if the set of individuals might consist of only one person. The poverty threshold used for the EPCV surveys, as established by the World Bank is 1 dollar per person per day, at 1985 constant prices. The extreme poverty threshold however corresponds to a level of consumption of 270 dollars per capita per annum. Table 1 shows the changes in the poverty and extreme poverty thresholds applied in Mauritania since 1990 and updated to reflect inflation.

Table 1.1 :Updated poverty thresholds in UM per capita per annum
Poverty thresholdExtreme poverty
199032 80024 400
199658 40043 450
200072 60054 000
200494 65070 400
2008129 00096 000

b. The decline in poverty

1.5 In 2008, 42 percent of Mauritanianas were living beneath the poverty line, whereas 25.9 percent of them lived in extreme poverty. The extent of poverty declined, however, compared to 2004 (46.7 percent). The share of poor households fell from 39 percent in 2004 to 35.1 percent in 2008.

1.6 The decline in poverty was less pronounced for the gap indicators, which reflect the trends in inequalities among the poor. Thus, extreme poverty declined more slowly than poverty, falling from 28.8 percent in 2004 to 25.9 percent in 2008, which is a drop of almost 3 percentage points for the period1. This rate was lower than the one recorded for the period 2000-2004 (about 6 percentage points). In absolute terms, however, the number of poor Mauritanians continued to grow, affecting 1,319,566 people in 2004 and 1,328,182 people in 2008, due mainly to sustained population growth (2.4 percent) between 1998 and 2000 according to the General Population and Housing Census (RGPH) 2000.

1.7 Perceived poverty was still noticeably at the same level, that is to say, 80.6 percent, 82.2 percent, and 81.2 percent in 2000, 2004, and 2008 respectively. Furthermore, 56.5 percent of heads of household in 2008 thought that their neighborhood or village was poor, whereas only 50 percent of them did in 2004 and 43.3 percent in 2000.

c. Spatial differentiation of poverty

1.8 Income poverty is still primarily a rural phenomenon, with an incidence of 59.4 percent, as against 20.8 percent in urban areas. Furthermore, rural areas are home to over three quarters (77.7 percent) of the country’s poor.

1.9 The data from the 2008 EPCV show that 7 in 13 wilayas (regions) showed poverty prevalence rates of over 55 percent. From a poverty incidence analysis of the wilayas it was possible to classify them into four main groups:(i) very poor wilayas with a rate of over 60 percent (Tagant, Gorgol, Brakna); (ii) fairly poor wilayas with indices between 55 percent and 60 percent (Hodh El Charghi, Adrar, Guidimagha et Assaba); (iii) wilayas where the rate is between 30 percent and 50 percent (Hodh El Gharbi, Trarza et Inchiri); and (iv) wilayas where the rate is below 20 percent (Nouadhibou, Tiris-Zemmour et Nouakchott).

Incidence de la pauvreté selon la wilaya en 2008

1.10 In summary, the areas most affected are I’Aftout, Tagant, Brakna, and the moughataa of Ouadane (Adrar) with poverty incidence rates of over 70 percent.

Figure 1.1 :Poverty incidence rate

1.11 The analysis in terms of extreme poverty confirms significant gaps within these disparities: the incidence of poverty in the 11 most affected moughataa is over 50 percent.

1.12 Significant gaps can also be observed among the urban population. The incidence of poverty is less high in Nouakchott (15.6 percent) than in other cities (29.7 percent).

1.13 As regards the patterns of poverty, rural poverty increased, whereas urban poverty declined between 2004 and 2008. In urban areas, the incidence of poverty fell 10 percentage points in Nouakchott. Poverty worsened between 2004 and 2008 in three wilayas: Adrar, Assaba, and Hodh El Charghi, where it rose 18, 12 and 8 percentage points, respectively. The wilayas of Inchiri, Trarza, Tiris-Zemmour, and Nouakchott experienced more significant drops in poverty rates, or 19, 15, 13, and 10 points, respectively.

d. Breakdown by socioeconomic group and gender

1.14 Despite the significant drop in poverty in the socioeconomic group of households led by self-employed farmers over the period 2004-2008, this group is still the worst affected by poverty with an incidence of 70 percent, while the group least affected is public sector employees, with a poverty rate of about 22 percent.

1.15 The incidence of poverty does not vary appreciably in terms of who heads the household. It is slightly lower in households where the head is female (40.3 percent) than in households where the head is male (42.6 percent). It varies, nevertheless, according to the classification of the household, with households of the type « couple with children », reporting a high incidence (over 44 percent), whereas households of the type « couple without children » and one-person households seem to fare better (the incidence of poverty is at 11 percent and 13.1 percent, respectively). (See box 1)

Table 1.2 :Breakdown of the poor population by household type
Type of householdPoorNon poorOverall
Single individual0.20.90.6
Couple without children0.42.21.4
Couple with children45.641.743.4
Nuclear single parent13.71514.4
Extended single parent10.21110.7
Extended family29.929.129.5

Box: 1.1 :Poverty patterns 2004-2008

Poverty is still a rural phenomenon: in 2008, almost 6 in 10 persons living in rural areas lived beneath the poverty line. The incidence of poverty in rural areas increased from 59% in 2004 to 59.4% in 2008, which is a slight increase of 0.4%. There was a more significant increase in the depth and severity of poverty, however, with figures between 2004 and 2008 climbing from 20.6% to 22.3% and from 9.6% to 11.1%., respectively The majority of wilayas, where agropastoral activities are the mainstay, saw an increase in the incidence of poverty especially in the wilayas of Hodh El Chargui (8.3 %), I’Assaba (15.1 %), I’Adrar (11.7 %), Hodh El Gharbi (2.5 %), Tagant (1 %) and Brakna (0.1 %).

In urban areas, the percentage of individuals living below the poverty line fell from 28.9% in 2004 to 20.8% in 2008, which means an 8-point drop in poverty, thus reflecting a clear improvement in living conditions in certain major urban centers, notably Nouakchott, Zouerate, and Akjoujt.

e. Poverty in terms of living conditions

1.16 This approach is based on responses collected from a set of households deemed to be representative of Mauritania’s population (in terms of education in the broader sense, health, safe drinking water, housing, etc.).

1.17 Primary education: at the national level, the 2008 EPCV estimated the gross enrolment ratio (GER2) at the primary level at 90.9 percent, higher than the ratio in the EPCV 2004 (76.7 percent) and the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey MICS survey (82.3 percent). In terms of gender, the GER is 93.5 percent for girls and 88 percent for boys.

1.18 Disparities appear when viewed in terms of residential background: the GER is 79.6 percent in rural areas as against 108.5 percent in urban areas. The same disparities can be observed in the wilayas. The wilayas of Hodh El Charghi, Hodh El Gharbi, Assaba, Gorgol, Guidimagha and Inchiri are below the national average, whereas for Brakna, the rate is closer to the national average. Overall, the GER is increasing with the standard of living, that is to say, 72.4 percent among the poorest (1st quintile) and 106.6 percent among the richest (5th quintile).

Evolulion. du. taux brut de scolanisation (primaiee) selon la wilaya 2004 - 2008

1.19 Secondary education: there was little change in the GER over the past four years, as it moved from 29.6 percent in 2004 to 30.5 percent in 2008. It is slightly higher for boys (32.7 percent) than for girls (28.4 percent).

1.20 These results point to the persistently high dropout rate existing between the 2 levels of education. When viewed in relation to residential background, disparities are found to exist. The GER is 53.5 percent in urban areas, compared to 12.8 percent in rural areas.

1.21 Literacy: 61.5 percent of the population in 2008 were literate adults (15 and over) as against 57.5 percent in 2004. However, this figure conceals the disparities determined by residential background (73.3 percent in urban areas, compared to 50.3 percent in rural areas) on the one hand and gender (70.3 percent for men compared to 54.4 percent for women) on the other. An analysis by wilaya also shows significant disparities, particularly in the variation between 27.3 percent in Guidimagha and 81 percent in Tiris-Zemmour. Other major disparities were also observed nationwide (70.6 percent among the non-poor and 46 percent among the poor).

1.22 In the field of health, the morbidity rate increased slightly, climbing from 6.4 percent in 2004 to 7.8 percent in 2008. The rate is higher in rural areas (8.2 percent) than in urban areas (7.3 percent).

1.23 Where immunization coverage is concerned, the percentage of fully immunized children 12 to 23 months old is 68.8 percent. The figure is slightly higher for boys (69.3 percent) than for girls (68.3 percent).

1.24 Furthermore, a review of the results on prenatal care shows an improvement. Whereas coverage was 80.2 percent in 2004, it rose to 87.4 percent in 2008. Nevertheless, disparities exist between the poor (76.6 percent) and the non-poor (94.6 percent). The births assisted by a skilled birth attendant rate improved, climbing from 56.5 percent in 2004 to 60.2 percent in 2008 but remains variable, that is to say, 27.4 percent in poor families and 92 percent for richer Mauritanians.

1.25 There is still more progress to be made in ensuring physical accessibility to health services. In fact the results reveal that only 40.3 percent of the population can access a health center within 30 minutes and 67.3 percent live within a 5-km radius of a health facility. The results for malnutrition in children under 5 years of age show a slight drop in chronic malnutrition: 40.3 percent in 2004 compared to 40.1 percent in 2008. Nevertheless, the rate of severe malnutrition rose from 12.2 percent in 2004 to 15.6 percent in 2008. The same rate was true of underweight children, which was 30.2 percent in 39.4 percent over the same period.

1.26 As regards access to safe drinking water, huge progress has been made in the past four years, even though there are still improvements to be made: 58.3 percent of households have access to safe drinking water in 2008 as against 52 percent in 2004. Water vendors (24.4 percent) and indoor plumbing (21 percent) are the main sources of supply of safe drinking water.

1.27 This access when cross-referenced with the standard of living of households shows significant gaps in that 30 percent of poor households have access to drinking water compared to 87 percent of richer households.

Source d’approvisionnement en eau potable

1.28 The situation in the wilayas shows some disparities that enable the following differentiations to be made: (i) one group using mostly indoor plumbing, comprising the wilayas of Trarza (51.7 percent), I’Inchiri (48.4 percent), and Dakhlet-Nouadhibou (39.5 percent); (ii) the Northern wilayas, i.e. Adrar, Tiris Zemmour, where cisterns are the primary source, with 33.5 percent et 83 percent respectively; and (iii) finally, the district of Nouakchott, where water vendors are the primary source (74.4 percent).

1.29 The main types of housing occupied by households in 2008 can be classified into two major groups: substandard dwellings (tents, shacks/huts, baraques and m’bar) represent 32.5 percent, instead of 33 percent in 2004, and dwellings that could be called houses increased from 67 percent in 2004 to 67.5 percent in 2008. As regards the occupancy status of the houses, it has been observed that the vast majority of households owned their homes (74 percent). This figure fell, compared to 2004, when it was 77,2 percent. Tenants are in second place (almost 12 percent in 2008), which was a slight increase over 2004. The third position is held by households in the process of becoming homeowners (Gazra), or 7,5 percent.

1.30 In 2008, the mode of lighting most widely used nationwide was torches: 51 percent of households. It was followed by electricity, used by 30.6 percent of households. These two modes of lighting were also dominant in 2004, accounting for 51 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Disparities do exist depending on where people live, i.e. in rural areas 4 in 5 households use torches, whereas in urban areas electricity is most widely used (over 70 percent).

1.31 The energy most widely used for cooking food in 2008 was butane gas (37 percent of households) compared to 35 percent in 2004. Next is firewood gathered by residents (almost 33 percent of households). In rural areas, the most widely used energy remained gathered firewood (56.6 percent), followed by gas (18.6 percent). In contrast, in urban areas, gas is most widely used (61.6 percent), followed by wood charcoal (31 percent).

1.32 The number of homes with lavatories increased: there were 45.7 percent of homes without lavatories in 2008 compared with 48 percent in 2004.


1.33 Tackling poverty means tackling the factors influencing it. Poverty is the result of the influence of several factors, including geo-natural factors (geographic position, natural resources), demographic factors (high population growth rate) and institutional factors (economic policy management mode).

Chart 2.4.2:Lorenz Curve distribution of household expenditure based on EPCV 2004 and 2008

1.34 The 2008 EPCV also highlighted the following: (i) the decline in poverty over the period 2006-2009 might be explained in part by the execution of major investment projects in the infrastructure and social sector sectors. The establishment of more redistributive policies could have helped reduce the rate of poverty much more significantly; and (ii) the levels of education, literacy, and technical and professional training of individuals and households are some of the factors exerting a real influence on their standard of living.

1.35 The worsening of poverty in absolute terms is due to the redistribution effect (1.5 percent), which, paradoxically, is unfavorable for the poorer segments of the population and is reflected numerically by stagnation in the poverty severity index P2. The impact of economic growth also helped reduce poverty (3.1 percent) between 2004 and 2008. Note that the Gini index dropped between 2004 and 2008, from 39 percent to 38 percent.

1.36 The socioeconomic and socio-demographic characteristics are at the heart of the problem of reducing poverty, given the multidimensional character of poverty. In fact, the level of education, level of literacy, and gender of the head of household (HH) are major factors, to the extent that they affect appreciably the standard of living of households measured by per capita expenditure. The same observation holds true for the size and classification of the household.

1.37 Lastly, other factors were also partly responsible for hampering the efforts made to achieve the poverty reduction targets:

  • The rise in inflation in recent years undermined the gains made by households in purchasing power, especially poorer households;
  • In rural areas, (i) almost complete dependence of the people on agro pastoral activities, which are contingent on climatic conditions; (ii) the lack of water resources; (iii) lack of access for the poor to land; and (iv) isolated areas of production and the absence of infrastructure to facilitate the marketing of produce;
  • In urban areas, (i) uncontrolled sedentarisation; (ii) lack of economic development opportunities; (iii) lack of access for the poor to basic social services (health, education, safe drinking water, etc.) and suitable financial services; and (iv) general substandard living conditions in outlying areas.

1.38 Despite the government’s efforts since the 1990s, Mauritania is still one of the world’s poorest countries, with 42 percent of its population in 2008 living below the poverty threshold.

1.39 Since the work on poverty began, it became clear that not all strata of the population are affected in the same way. A more accurate appraisal of poverty requires proper targeting of the segments of population most exposed to poverty. Information on the income of the entire population is not often available or practically non-existent. Nevertheless, household surveys made it possible to estimate the level of wellbeing for the different categories of the population and therefore design targeted programs to alleviate poverty.

1.40 Poverty therefore remains a source of grave concern in Mauritania. This situation seems to confirm that the various policy measures implemented thus far have not succeeded in extricating certain strands of the population out of poverty.



2.1 The government, through this the first of its strategic focus areas, was clear in its resolve to move beyond mere economic recovery during the period 2006-2010 by laying a fresh foundation for progressively strong, sustainable, sustained growth. To achieve this, the public authorities focused on implementing growth-friendly, pro-poor economic policies through: (i) implementing macroeconomic policies geared toward stabilizing the macroeconomic framework and pushing through comprehensive structural reforms; (ii) financial sector reform to find the appropriate solutions for financing enterprises and helping them do their part to embody the government’s determination to make the private sector the engine of growth in coming years; (iii) establishing an appropriate framework to revitalize the private sector and contribute to building a climate conducive to the private investment essential for promoting SMEs; (iii) implementing sectoral policies aimed at promoting potential sources of growth; and (iv) devising policies to support growth, with infrastructure development as the lynch pin of all economic expansion, social welfare, and a more competitive Mauritanian economy.

a. Macroeconomic objectives and changes in the main aggregates3

2.2 On balance, over the period 2006-2010, the macroeconomic objectives established by the government consisted in: (i) bringing the GDP growth rate to 9.4 percent on average over the period 2006-2010; (ii) bringing inflation to under 5 percent by 2010; (iii) containing the budget deficit (excluding grants) to about 10 percent of non-oil GDP on average annually; (iv) bringing the current account deficit excluding official transfers by 2010 to 6 percent of GDP; and (v) increasing foreign currency reserves to 3.7 months of imports by the end of the period.

Table 2.1 :Achievement of the objectives for 2006-2010
PRSP II ForecastAchievement
Average GDP growth rate 2006-20109,4%3,7%
Average budget deficit (excluding grants) (in % of non-oil GDP)10%8.6%
Current account deficit (excluding official transfers) (in % of GDP)6%14.4%
Inflation rate in 20105%6.1%

2.3 On average, non-oil economic growth between 2006 and 2009 was calculated at 3.2 percent, and 3.7 percent including oil revenues. These results are scarcely enough to reach a third of the PRSP II forecast, which saw a 10.7 percent growth rate over the same period.

2.4 This growth was driven mainly by the tertiary sector, comprising transport, telecommunications, commerce, restaurants, and hotels and other private services, which contributed 1.6 percent during that period, or half of overall growth (3.7 percent). This component comprised the bulk of activity in the economy for several years during which a gradual tertiarization of the economy was observed.

Table 2.2 :Average contribution to growth 2006-2010



Private services5,8%5,4%5,1%−0,1%4,1%6,5%4,5%
Government agencies3,4%2,9%3,0%−0,7%2,1%−0,9%1,5%
Indirect taxes8,6%6,4%4,1%−1,2%4,5%6,6%4,9%
GDP at market price11,4%1,0%3,5%−1,2%3,7%5,0%4,0%
GDP at market price excluding oil4,1%5,9%3,9%−1,1%3,2%5,6%3,7%

Forecast Source: Mauritanian Authorities and IMF; September 2010

Rural Secondary Tertiary Services Admin Taxes GDP at…price GDP at…price

Forecast Source: Mauritanian Authorities and IMF; September 2010

Rural Secondary Tertiary Services Admin Taxes GDP at…price GDP at…price

2.5 The secondary sector, despite its role as a driver of the growth achieved (it contributed 1.1 percentage points), was, however, the decisive factor that compromised the growth target established in PRSP II. Considering the growth rate of 24.2 percent forecast for the period 2006-2009, the sector only grew by 4.9 percent. In fact, after a strong increase of almost 33 percent in 2006 under the effect of an incipient oil industry, the secondary sector followed a downward trend over the entire period covering 2007-2009 (−4.5 percent on average) due to the oil sector’s below-par performance, beginning in 2007, and the poor performance of the construction and public works (BTP) sector, particularly in 2008 and 2009 following the slowdown in the rate of execution of infrastructure projects, because of dwindling external financial flows following the various institutional changes the country experienced during the period. Nevertheless, these below-par performances were offset by the good performance of the copper and gold subsectors, which grew an average of 150 percent and 279 percent respectively between 2007-2009, since mining began in 2007 and 2008.

2.6 The primary sector (rural sector), on which over 60 percent of the population depends, contributed the least to overall growth (0.6 percentage point) for the period. This situation is explained in part by the difficulties experienced during the crop year in the irrigated sector in 2009, following the financing problems ensuing from the high rate of non-performing loans at the National Union of Agricultural Savings and Loan Banks of Mauritania (UNCACEM). These difficulties compounded other more classic difficulties, related to the rainfall deficit, deficiencies in the irrigation system, infrastructure weaknesses, as well as the lack of inputs, and technical and productive skills. The paltry contribution of the rural sector to overall growth is also explained by the lack of integration of the livestock and fisheries subsectors into the economy.

2.7 The inflation rate, resulting from the substantial rise in the price of energy and a number of imported food items, was established at an average of 6.7 percent annually over the period 2006-2007. Nevertheless, in terms of the year on year inflation4, the increase in consumer prices slowed appreciably. Inflation therefore fell from 8.9 percent at end-2006 to 7.4 percent at end-December 2007, due mainly to a deceleration in food and transport prices observed during the first quarter of the year and further tightening of monetary and fiscal policy.

2.8 Average annual inflation during 2008 remained stable at 7.3 percent. Nevertheless, in terms of the year on year rate, the rate was 3.9 percent, which is a drop of 3.5 percentage points compared to 2007. The reasons for this are: (i) the measures taken by the government authorities to offset the spike in the prices of staples, and (ii) the implementation of a prudent monetary policy. This downward trend observed in 2008 continued in 2009, during which the rate of inflation was 2.2 percent on annual average.

2.9 The budget deficit excluding oil and grants was on average 60.3 billion UM for the period 2006-2009, corresponding to 8.6 percent of nominal GDP excluding oil. The deficit continued on a fairly steady path over the period although there was a spike because of the implementation of the Special Intervention Program (PSI) to counter the negative effects of the global food crisis. Grants and oil revenues included, the balance would actually be a 38 billion UM surplus per annum over the period. The reason for this is essentially the inclusion of the debt relief under the MDRI in 2006 (242.5 billion UM) and oil revenues.

2.10 The current account balance was in deficit for the entire period, standing at USD 374.5 million (12.1 percent of average GDP). This deficit is significantly higher than the trade balance. The behavior of the current account balance is due essentially to a significant deficit in the balance of services and revenues that it was not possible to offset using the transfer surplus for that period. Indeed, imports of services and revenues (transport, insurance, financial services, travel, interest payments on external debt, etc.) were well in excess of revenues for that period, most of which came from fishing and tourism concessions. These imports stood at an average of USD 719 million, because of the charges linked to the increase in goods imports for the period.

2.11 On the whole, there was a deficit of almost USD 58 million in the trade balance in the period 2006-2009, and USD 437 million, excluding oil exports. An analysis of this balance reveals three trends: (i) the low-key entry into service of the Chinguity oilfield boosted exports nonetheless in 2006; (ii) deficit levels over the period 2007-2009 due to a significant increase in imports and the rise in food prices (purchase of large stocks of foodstuffs following implementation of the PSI). This increase in imports was offset in part by the first exports of gold and copper and favorable prices for iron on the market in 2007-2008; and (iii) a strong reduction in the deficit in 2009, owing to the drop in the import bill, particularly foodstuffs, domestic fuel and oil, even though exports declined.

Table 2.3 :External account 2006-2010


Trade balance200−193,71−153,55−82,81−57,581,3−29,8
Trade balance (excl. oil production)−434,8−532,4−479,4−300,8−436,8−122,5−374,0
Net services and revenues−405,4−465,7−600,3−426,9−474,6−576,1−494,9
Current transfers158,7144,3196,6130,8157,6176,3161,3
Current balance−46,7−515,2−557,3−378,9−374,5−318,4−363,3

Forecast Source: Mauritanian authorities and IMF; September 2010

Trade balance Trade balance excl. oil Net services and revenues Current transfers Current balance

Forecast Source: Mauritanian authorities and IMF; September 2010

Trade balance Trade balance excl. oil Net services and revenues Current transfers Current balance

2.12 As regards transfers, the average level of transfers was USD 158 million. Nevertheless, private transfers remained practically stable at USD 69 million per annum, whereas official transfers trended differently over the period, given the steady decline in assistance under the HIPC, which dwindled from USD 14.3 million in 2006 to USD 6 million in 2009.

b. Macroeconomic policies for sustainable equilibria

2.13 During the period 2006-2010, the fiscal policy had been considered as a major matter to be addressed, with three objectives in mind: (i) to strengthen the achievements made under the tax reform in order to maintain the upward trend in non-oil tax; (ii) to control public expenditure through rational management of the new fiscal margin generated by oil revenues; and (iii) to improve the targeting and effectiveness of public expenditures.

2.14 As far as the management of public resources is concerned, the following actions were taken: (i) deconcentration of the authorization process; (ii) establishment of the RACHAD system; (iii) introduction of the Annual Initial Budget Programming Document (DAPBI); (iv) deconcentration of financial control; and (v) drafting (still underway) of a budget nomenclature in line with the IMF’s government finance statistics manual. The establishment of secondary authorization strengthened the transfer of power to authorize payments, which has been in the experimental phase since 2008 in the wilaya of Nouadhibou. Recently, authorization to make payments for the armed forces and security forces (Army, Gendarmerie, National Guard, Traffic Squad) was regularized with the definitive abandonment of military subauthorizations and the delegation of authorization powers for military expenditures, including wages.

2.15 On the public expenditures and fiscal management side, the main achievements were notably in the following areas: (i) the revision in 2006 of the public accounting regulations; (ii) limits on procedures for expenditure waivers (MF order 2007); (iii) drafting of several procedures manuals and auditing tools; (iv) the launch of a process of establishing accrual basis accounting; (v) including recurrent items in Ministries’ budgets (hemodialysis, non permanent staff (PNP), operation Ramadan…), previously carried under the Chapter « Common expenditures »; and (vi) fewer in-kind expenditures in the form of transport and housing allowances in 2010, with the aim of making management of these types of public expenditures transparent and to guarantee equity in their distribution.

2.16 Several other reforms were undertaken under the 2010 budget law. The highlights were: (i) the restructuring (still underway) of the payroll based on the results of the head count of government officials and employees through the elimination of phantom employees, redundancies, and the perks granted to certain government employees who are no longer entitled to them; (ii) elimination of the government’s water and electricity grants to employees, and replacing them with a lump-sum allowance for eligible government officials; (iii) discontinuing the practice of carrying fuel and vehicle maintenance expenses in the government budget and replacing them with a transportation allowance to all officials; and (iv) rescindment of all housing agreements, starting in July 1, 2010, and payment of a non-housing allowance to all officials.

2.17 As far as monetary and credit policies are concerned, efforts to stabilize prices continued and were supplemented by: (i) an easing of conditions for financing the economy, which was reflected in the decision made by the Monetary Policy Council (CPM) to lower the rates for repurchase of treasury bills, which serve as the Central Bank’s key rate, from 14 percent to 12 percent in October 2007, and from 12 percent to 9 percent in November 2009; (ii) the establishment of a Council for Monetary Policy, chaired by the governor of the BCM, entrusted with defining the Bank’s monetary policy; (iii) an overhaul of the operational framework for the monetary policy, which was embodied by the adoption of a new set of regulations and a new procedures manual for the money market; (iv) the creation of new market intervention instruments (BCM bonds, Certificates of deposit, and treasury bills), and the expansion of the money market to encompass all economic agents, who are now provided with an appropriate framework for treasury management; (v) creation of BCM bonds designed to bolster the operational independence of the monetary policy by enabling the Central Bank to use its own securities to regulate liquidity in the banking system; and (vi) establishment of a committee to coordinate monetary and fiscal policy.

2.18 On the exchange policy front, action was taken in the following areas: (i) external trade arrears were cleared; (ii) starting October 2006, all restrictions on payments of current transactions were lifted; and (iii) establishment in January 2007, of a currencies market, which signaled a turning point in Mauritania’s exchange policy.

c. Maximization of the benefits of oil

2.19 When the second action plan under the PRSP was launched, it coincided with the start of activity in the oil industry. This shift led government authorities to make managing all aspects of the oil sector both a core and a crosscutting issue in PRSP II, inasmuch as it is likely, given its economic, financial, social and environmental impact, to have a major influence on the strategic focus areas of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy. Government authorities therefore geared their action for the period 2006-2010 toward the five following areas: (i) planned development of oil prospecting and production; (ii) monitoring production, costs, and contractual obligations; (iii) optimal management of oil revenues; (iv) preventing potential negative effects on the environment; and (v) taking the subregional dimension into account.

2.20 The following achievements were made in the area of unprocessed hydrocarbons over the period 2006-2010: (i) exploration of the coastal basin, although only 7 exploratory wells were drilled between 2006 and 2010; (ii) intensification of exploration activity in the Taoudéni basin since 2006 with several thousand kilometers of 2D seismic drilled by Total and Repsol; (iii) the start of exploratory drilling by Total in the Ta8 block and a 3D seismic survey carried out by Wintershall; (iv) the signing under more favorable conditions for the government of riders for the extension of the exploration period of Petronal and Dana in offshore Block C6 in 2009 and Block 1 in 2010, respectively, to increase the chances of fresh discoveries for Petronal and to confirm the state of the fields for Dana; (v) publication of figures for the oil subsector as part of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in the report of the national EITI commission, for the 2006 budget year (See box 2); (vi) establishment in 2006 of the National Hydrocarbons Revenue Fund (FNRH) and an upgrade of its role to include supervision of oil revenue management based on the principles of transparency and good governance; and (vii) the transformation of the SMH into a state-owned corporation with publicly funded capital to provide the government with more expertise for auditing and monitoring the oil industry.

Box: 2.1 :The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)

The Mauritanian government, considering the major role that mining and oil industries play in the economic and social development of the country and concerned to guarantee total transparency in the investment and utilization of financial resources generated by these sectors, acceded on September 25, 2005 to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September 2002. The application of these principles of this initiative fosters transparency in the use of revenues from the mining and oil industries.

Mauritania joined this initiative in a global context of government measures taken in recent years to institute transparent regulations in the management of mining and hydrocarbons and to help those sectors better contribute to securing economic growth, distributing the revenues, and reducing poverty, which still affects approximately 42 percent of Mauritanians. In so doing, the government authorities are seeking to forestall the missed opportunities that other countries have experienced in making effective use of their natural resources.

With a view to transparency and effectiveness, government revenues from hydrocarbons are therefore deposited into an open account held with a reputable banking establishment. A National Council on Extractive Industry Transparency (CNTIE) was established, by Decree 2006-001 of January 13, 2006. With a membership comprising representatives of government agencies and civil society, under the decree it has been entrusted with the task of:

  • Ensuring the regular publication in a form accessible to the public, information on the tax revenues collected from oil, gas, and mining operations.
  • Recruiting, invitations to bid in compliance with international standards, an independent expert to reconcile payment statements issued by extractive corporations and those issue by the central government.
  • Drafting an action plan with measurable objectives and an implementation schedule.
  • Ensuring that civil society participates actively throughout the entire process and that it contributes to the public debate.

By publishing the annual reports, the CNTIE provides Mauritanians with essential information on the revenues accruing to government from the exploitation of the mining and industrial sectors. This information, which is reconciled by an internationally renowned consulting firm recruited through a bidding procedure, is testimony to the strategic importance of these sectors, especially in terms of their contribution to the government’s budget.

The first National Report, drafted by the International firm Ernst and Young and published in March 2007, covers the data from 2005: the report is devoted primarily to the National Mining Industries Corporation (SNIM), given that oil production in the Chinguetti oilfield did not begin until February 2006 and that for the other mining operators M.C.M. (AKJOUJT) and T.M.L. (TASIAST), their production was not scheduled to begin before 2006 and 2007, respectively. The second report, in 2006, drafted by the same international firm and published in July 2007 included data from both subsectors of mining and hydrocarbons, thus affording a more balanced view of these two strategic sectors in Mauritania’s economy. It emerged from the report that mining and oil contributed over 80 percent of the country’s export revenues and over 38 percent of non-grant fiscal revenue.

d. Fast-tracking financial sector reform

2.21 The challenge of accelerated economic growth and a competitive private sector can be successfully tackled only if there is a healthy, competitive, and effective financial sector. It is with this in mind that government authorities established as their main objective the modernization of the financial sector through the following priority actions: (i) adoption of a new banking law; (ii) instituting a system in which enterprises would produce reliable financial statements and in which auditors and external auditors would certify only accounts in good order; and (iii) setting up new banks, preferably with a reputable partner with proven experience.

2.22 As far as the banking sector and the regulatory and institutional aspects are concerned, the government authorities succeeded in: (i) carrying out an organizational restructuring of the BCM; (ii) setting up a clearinghouse at the BCM agency in Nouadhibou; (iii) establishing a training institute for banking in Nouadhibou; and (iv) adopting Ordinance N° 2007-020 of March 13, 2007 on the regulations for credit institutions and the main implementing provisions.

2.23 Other steps were taken in the banking sector to: (i) institute an effective maximum global rate in a bid to help improve access for economic agents to financing from banks and eliminate possible abuse; (ii) create a deposit guarantee fund as part of the policy to strengthen the banking system; (iii) establish an international audit of the banks; (iv) establish an audit of the post office’s financial services; (v) diversify the banking system by strengthening competition (approval for the opening of a branch of Qatar National Bank, opening of an Islamic bank under the auspices of the IDB and the purchase of 60 percent of the corporate equity of BNP Mauritanie by a foreign operator); and (vi) development of a Strategic Plan for the BCM to cover the period 2008-2012 with a view to supporting and guiding the economic and financial development of the country, especially by ensuring coherence among the necessary reforms.

2.24 The central bank took a number of measures geared to improving the performance of the system and means of payment, including: (i) a revision of the regulatory framework and the introduction of disciplinary measures to ensure normal operation of the clearinghouse; (ii) a study on standardization in the banking and financial sector to lay the groundwork for a teleclearing system within a maximum of two years; (iii) adoption of Ordinance 2006-031 on payment instruments and electronic commerce; (iv) adoption of the rules for interbank operations; (v) development and rollout of a security system meeting international standards at the premises of the electronic cash center; (vi) development and rollout of an interbanking telecommunication network in the form of a fiber optic ring linking all the banks; (vii) setting up and entry into service of a center for the personalization of certified banking cards; (viii) launch of a communication campaign on the use of bank cards for making payments; (ix) introduction of an electronic cash solution was introduced offering nationwide interbanking and the acceptance/issuance of international bank cards; (x) issuance of 22 000 interbanking cards that can be used for payment and withdrawal; (xi) connection of all banks the electronic cash center; (xii) adoption of the legal provisions regulating the use of international banking cards and the tourist allocation (available only through the use of these cards); and (xiii) linking of the electronic cash center to the VISA INTERNATIONAL network (purchases/withdrawals).

2.25 An advisory commission was set up for the insurance industry and the terms of reference for the diagnostic survey of the sector were finalized.

e. Improving the business climate and promoting SMEs

2.26 Inasmuch as deepening of the reforms required to create a business-friendly environment and promoting investment are, together, a sine qua non for making the economy competitive, government authorities focused their action on the following main priorities: (i) improving the legal environment for business by tackling anticompetitive practices; (ii) adopting business friendly tax and customs policies; (iii) providing institutional support for developing commerce; (iv) putting measures in place to support Mauritanian SMEs in industry, handicrafts businesses, and SMEs in the construction and public works sector; (v) strengthening consultation mechanisms and economic monitoring tools; and (vi) reforming the financial sector.

2.27 Improving the legal environment for business involved the following actions: (i) training judges and commercial court registrars; (ii) conducting a study on the rules governing the operation of the central trade register at the Mauritania Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Handicrafts (CCIAM); (iii) providing support for setting up a Mediation and Arbitration Chamber at the CCIAM; (iv) drafting an order on the organization and operation of the central trade register; and (v) organizing a Commercial Bank/Justice Sector seminar.

2.28 Tax and customs policies were further adapted and simplified through the introduction of the following measures: (i) the threshold for the lump sum tax on industrial and commercial profits was raised from 3 to 6 million ouguiyas (depending on the sector) to a uniform threshold of 30 million ouguiyas; (ii) the rules for the minimum flat tax (IMF in the French) were simplified with across the board taxation of all businesses with a lump sum tax, which is 2.5 percent of turnover, while the tax on industrial and commercial profits was set at 25 percent of businesses’ profits; and (iii) the lump sum regime was made declarative and not presumptive, based on a declaration made on a simple form. In addition to all these actions, tax centers were established at the Tax Administration and tasked with simplifying relations with taxpayers.

2.29 The entry into service of the ASYCUDA++ system is designed to increase revenue by putting in place several regulatory measures (Budget Law, Tariff schedules, Regimes, etc.) and by applying the procedures across the board to all the bureaus that have been computerized.

2.30 Institutional support for developing trade involved major undertakings, notably: (i) promoting regulations governing consultations and trade negotiations by setting up the National Consultative Commission on International Trade (CNCCI); (ii) setting up the National Steering Committee for the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA); and (iii) conducting a 2009 feasibility study into setting up an Export Promotion Center to help improve the competitiveness of Mauritanian businesses; (v) organizing a series of seminars and training, information, and awareness raising workshops on the Economic Partnership Agreement, the WTO Agreements, trade negotiations and systems of trade preferences of which Mauritania is a beneficiary; (vi) strengthening ownership of the Integrated Framework, and of commerce in general by government agencies, the private sector, and civil society; (vii) further mainstreaming the commercial dimension into the national development strategy; (viii) ensuring the enhanced positioning of the CCIAM as a key player in the development and promotion of the private sector; (ix) development of the trade strategy for 2007-2015; and (x) building capacity at the CCIAM.

2.31 The supporting measures for Mauritanian SMEs were strengthened by: (i) the enactment of the law on standardization and quality promotion; (ii) the setting up a national system for standardization and quality promotion; (iii) the creation of new industrial facilities, especially in the agrifood and construction material industries; (iv) studies into setting up a metrology laboratory and supporting the development of quality infrastructure; (v) the setting up of an industrial information system (industrial enterprise database); (vi) the development and validation of a priority action plan to implement the industrial strategy; (vii) the development of a program to restructure and upgrade industrial enterprises; (viii) the institution of legal provisions to regulate the recording of industrial activities; (ix) the development of product specifications for the bottled water and baking industries, and for conducting surveys and enforcement drives; (x) the adoption of a decree establishing an Economic Enterprise Support Commission designed to support businesses in difficulty; and (xi) the organization of several editions of the National Inventors and Technological Innovation Show and campaigns to raise awareness of industrial property.

2.32 The consultation and economic monitoring tools were strengthened through the: (i) establishment of an institution in charge of promoting local and foreign private investment, to serve among other things as a forum for government/private sector consultation; and (ii) the inauguration in 2007 of the Presidential Investment Council, which is designed to be a platform for direct engagement between local and international investors and the President of the Republic.

f. Maximizing growth potentials in sectoral policies

2.33 In a bid to maximize the growth potentials in the lead sectors (mining, fisheries, tourism, and handicrafts), the 2006-2010 PRSP was supported by more effective sectoral policies.

2.34 The strategic guidelines for the mining sector for the period addressed the following main focus areas: (i) updating the legal framework; (ii) institutional support; (iii) enhancing data on the geological structure; and (iv) promoting mining with a view to diversifying national mining production.

2.35 The main undertakings in the mining sector during implementation of the second PRSP action plan involved: (i) improvements to the legal and regulatory framework, notably the 2008 mining law, which was revised in 2009, as well as drafting of the provisions for its implementation; (ii) institutional reform, in particular the creation of the Directorate of the Mines Police to inspect and monitor the activities of mining concerns, and institutional strengthening of the mining adminisration’s agencies; (iii) improvement of geological infrastructure, mainly the airborne geophysical survey of 72 percent of Mauritania’s surface area on a scale of 1:500,000 and the geophysical survey of 56 percent of the territory on a scale of 1:200,000 for the most prospective metallogenic parts; (iv) promotion of mining with efforts to raise awareness among mining companies and foreign investors through actual participation in many regional and international events as well as assisting foreign investors when they visit Mauritania to familiarize them with the business environment and our country’s mining potential; and (v) prospecting, research, development, and actual mining, with over 150 exploration permits issued to some fifty mining concerns.

2.36 For the fisheries sector, the objectives established for the period 2006-2010 were to: (i) preserve fish stocks; (ii) further mainstream fisheries in the economy; (iii) preserve the environment and marine and coastal ecosystems; and (iv) promote an appropriate institutional and regulatory framework, founded essentially on maximizing the value of its human resources and an effective monitoring and evaluation system.

2.37 Over the period 2006-2007, efforts undertaken to realize the above-mentioned objectives yielded the following achievements: (i) preparation of a management and development plan for small scale and inshore fishing; (ii) enhanced surveillance through monitoring in the ports; (iii) adoption of a management plan for octopus fishing, and drafting of a management plan for shrimping; (iv) adoption of an International Ship and Port facility Security (ISPS) code for the safety of port facilities; (v) implementation of the master plan for Mauritanian coastal management and development; (vi) setting up of maritime credit; (vii) ensuring the National Fishery and Maritime School (ENEMP’s) compliance (under agreement STCW-95); (viii) signing of the maritime collective bargaining agreement; (ix) dredging of the small-scale fisheries port for the Baie du Repos Port Facility (EPBR); (x) completion of construction of the training and social development centers for small-scale and inland fisheries; (xi) establishment of the national health inspection bureau for fisheries and aquaculture products (ONISPA); and (xii) the holding of an open forum for the fisheries sector.

2.38 The following achievements were recorded for the period 2008-2010: (i) the start of implementation of the management plans for octopus fishing; (ii) launch of initiatives to develop fisheries infrastructure; (iii) development of landing sites; (iv) the emergence of poles of development for small-scale fisheries; (v) Phase II of the fisheries surveillance and monitoring project; (vi) purchase of supplies for EPBR; (vii) implementation of the second phase of the Southern Small-scale Fisheries Development Program (PDPAS); (viii) extension/reconditioning of EPBR’s jetty and equipment; (ix) establishment of the fund for studies/ Ministry of Fisheries and Maritime Economy (MPEM); (x) equipping the small-scale fisheries training centers; (xi) providing support for the monitoring and evaluation system; (xii) execution of the ENEMP promotion program; (xiii) providing support for fisheries research; (xiv) ensuring the Nouakchott fish market is compliant with prevailing standards; and (xv) improvement of health inspection of fisheries products.

2.39 Regarding the tourism sector, the priorities established by government authorities over the period of implementation of PRSP II covered the following areas: (i) supporting the institutional framework; (ii) strengthening the legal framework; (iii) developing tourist attractions; (iv) developing service quality; and (v) promoting tourism through the implementation of a marketing plan, which made it possible to address the communication deficit.

2.40 In this connection, the government’s efforts made it possible to: (i) develop a tourism development strategy; (ii) develop some tourist attractions, particularly the Arquin National Park and the Diawling National Park; (iii) promote service quality through training for specialized guides; (iv) implementation of a marketing plan through which it was possible to reduce the communication deficit; (v) participation in several specialized expos and fairs in Europe and Africa; and (vi) the organization in 2008 in Paris of open days on Mauritania.

2.41 Regarding the handicrafts subsector, the SME support measures were strengthened by the following achievements: (i) the establishment of a handicrafts code; and (ii) establishment of handicrafts socioprofessional organizations which became, and are still now, key actors in the sector, i.e. a National Arts and Crafts Chamber (CNARM), three National Federations and thirteen Regional Arts and Crafts Federations.

g. Strengthening the economic role of infrastructure

2.42 The infrastructure sector is an important element in development, from both the point of view of economic growth and poverty reduction. For that matter, infrastructure plays a double role in development: (i) it has a positive effect on reducing the costs of the factors of production, i.e. energy supply, transport of goods and passengers, communications, etc.; (ii) it is an effective means of reducing inequalities and helps indirectly reduce poverty.

2.43 Providing the country with an efficient road system that meets its economic, environmental and social needs remains a major objective of the sectoral strategy. In order to satisfy the country’s transport needs, several modes are used: road (the dominant mode), rail, air, rivers, and the sea.

2.44 As far as road transport is concerned, programming for the period 2006-2010 addressed the following areas: (i) strengthening the transport liberalization process begun in October 2005; (ii) improving road maintenance under contracts programmed between the government and the National Road Maintenance Establishment (ENER); and (iii) undertaking new road investment programs designed to provide access to isolated areas throughout the country and strengthen Mauritania’s connection to other infrastructure in the subregion.

2.45 Where air transport is concerned, the priorities established were as follows: (i) ensure the National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) is fully established and operational; (ii) improvement of the regulatory framework; and (iii) upgrading of airport capacity.

2.46 In terms of maritime and waterway transport, the authorities decided on the following objectives: (i) increasing the sectors development capacity; and (ii) improving the competitiveness of the Autonomous Port of Nouakchott where the bulk of the country’s commercial activities are concentrated.

2.47 In the area of rail transport, the Nouadhibou-Zouerate line was scheduled for maintenance as part of iron ore transport initiatives.

2.48 In the land transport sector, and from an organizational and institutional point of view, work undertaken was geared to: (i) closing down the Transport Bureau with a view to improving the quality of the service offered to customers; (ii) resuming driver’s license examinations that had been temporarily suspended; (iii) printed instead of handwritten driver’s licenses; (iv) providing and installing signaling at the “black spots” in the greater Nouakchott area; (v) resuming technical inspections after a long suspension, while awaiting the award of the concession for conducting technical visits as a public service as part of the reform; (vi) setting up a highway control office (BCR) within the Directorate General for Road Transport (DGTT); (vii) starting work at the public works laboratory on regulating the manufacturing of license plates and certification; (viii) preparing and providing all ministry departments and other relevant agencies with a compendium of legal provisions (orders) implementing Decree No. 2007-006 of January 5, 2009 on the road code; (ix) starting design work on the casualty accident report form; (x) organizing brainstorming days on the land transport sector; (xi) establishment of a Public Transport Corporation (S.T.P.) and adoption of its articles of association; and (xii) establishment of a regulatory authority for the sector.

2.49 In terms of infrastructure development, significant progress has been made, notably: (i) the handover of construction work on the PK32-M’Bégnik stretch (of the Rosso-Bogué road) and continuation of work on the Rosso-PK32 stretch and the road network in the town of Rosso; (ii) continuation of construction work on the Kaédi-M’Bout-Selibaby-Gouraye road; (iii) completion of work on the Lekraa Lakhdhar works, bridge building to provide access to Barkéol and completion of the work to open up access to Bénichab, (iv) paving over 80 km of roads in Nouakchott; (v) building urban road networks in Akjoujt, Nouadhibou, and Zouerate; (vi) starting rehabilitation and extension works on the Kiffa-Tintane road; (vii) identification of stretches of road for rehabilitation in 2010 by the Akjoujt Mining Company (MCM), which committed to rehabilitating 30km of the Nouakchott-Akjoujt road each year; (viii) completion of the feasibility and execution studies for the Tidjikja-Kiffa and Kiffa-Sélibaby-Malian Border roads, the Nouakchott ring road, and Phase I of the Aftout access road program; (ix) evaluation of the bids for the building of the road from Atar to Tidjikja; (x) updating of the survey of the Nouakchott – Rosso road and finalization of the invitation to bid for the approval and start of survey work on the following stretches of road: Tintane – Néma, Néma-Bassiknou-Vassala-Malian Border, and Néma-Amourj-Adel Bagrou; and (xi) improvement of road maintenance using the financial resources of the ENER within the framework of the Government/ENER program contracts.

2.50 In the aviation subsector, recent developments included: (i) winding up of Air Mauritanie; (ii) creation of two airlines (Mauritania Airways and Mauritania Airlines International); (iii) an assessment of the institutional and legal environment of the aviation subsector; and (iv) strengthening management of Mauritania’s air space from a regional air traffic control center in Nouakchott.

2.51 In a bid to safeguard and upgrade airport infrastructure, the areas of focus were: (i) a technical survey of the new Nouakchott airport; (ii) rehabilitation and strengthening of the Nouakchott, Nouadhibou, and Sélibaby airports; and (iii) construction (still underway) of a new control tower in Nouakchott. The work undertaken on the regulatory framework governing security and aviation operations (Civil aviation code and implementing regulations) is still underway.

2.52 In the maritime subsector, recent developments included progress on the legislative and regulatory framework through: (i) the drafting of a national plan for search and rescue of human lives at sea; (ii) a revision of the Ports Code; and (iii) reform of the Merchant Marine Code.

2.53 The following outcomes were noted in the area of port infrastructure: (i) an increase in 2009, of the annual tonnage of the Autonomous Port of Nouakchott (the Port of Friendship) (PANPA) compared to 2008; (ii) ISPS certification for PANPA and implementation of the ISPS code; (iii) increased protection against incursions via the footbridge and stronger perimeter fencing of the port’s premises; (iv) construction and entry into service of a maritime surveillance post on the wharf; (v) expert reports on the metal works on the bridge and the quay; (vi) installation of the marking buoy for the turning basin; (vii) installation of a customer area; (viii) organization of two marketing drives at the Bamako and Kayes fairs; (ix) reconditioning of the weighbridge; (x) new marking buoys; (xi) installation of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) system; (xii) launch of a study of the development plan and a technical and financial review of PANPA; (xiii) start of work on expansion of PANPA; and (xiv) start of rehabilitation works on the Rosso unloading docks.

2.54 As far as building capacity for security and maritime safety is concerned, the main outcomes were in the following areas: (i) installation of a rescue unit in Nouadhibou and staging areas and Tiwilit and Legweichichi; and (ii) establishment of a database on maritime incidents.

2.55 Infrastructure and national energy resource shortfalls led the government authorities to establish the following as their main objectives for the period 2006-2010: (i) boosting electricity supply and electricity connection rates for its population; (ii) promoting rural electrification and renewable energies; (iii) implementing a policy based on supplying more high performing energy options that offer efficiency, reliability, and viability for all forms of energy; (iv) ensuring an uninterrupted supply of liquid hydrocarbons in competitive, healthy, and perfectly safe conditions for people, property, and the environment; (v) increasing supplies of butane gas so as to reduce demand for forest fuels; and (vi) building capacity in the sector.

2.56 On the electricity front and in an urban area adversely affected by the recurring difficulties experienced by Mauritania Electricity Corporation (SOMELEC), the main outcome was the implementation in October 2007 of a restructuring plan for the company. The first set of emergency measures taken under this plan focused on a review of rates, subsidies, an increase in capacity, and the upgrading of key installations. Furthermore, the restructuring of the electricity sector and SOMELEC was helped greatly by the creation of the National Agency for the Development of Renewable Energies (ANADER), project manager for all major renewable energy contracts. Furthermore, an emergency investment program launched by the government will make it possible to boost the production capacity of the grid by 56W. The increase in electricity production and distribution capacity made the following possible: (i) complete electrification of Nouakchott’s neighborhoods and the districts of Nbeika, Sava, Choum, Arr, Wompou, and Dafort; (ii) construction (still underway and scheduled for completion by end-2011) of a 36MW plant and the 33Kv closed loop around Nouakchott, expansion of the Nouadhibou plant, electrification of the last 6 moughataa administrative capitals (Amourj, Barkéol, Boumdeid, M’Bagne, Moudjéria, and Ould Yengé); and (iii) the arrival of electricity in the new towns of Rosso, Tintane, neighborhoods in Nouadhibou, Néma, Kaédi, d’Adel Bagrou, El Ghayree, Kamour, etc.

2.57 For the first time in the delegation of public services, the reform adopted in 1998 was implemented and local private operators were granted concessions for network operation and technical and commercial management of solar kits. This approach was intended to leverage public resources to attract private investment in a sector that is ostensibly unprofitable, which would make it possible to reduce government outlays and free up resources to boost access to energy. Despite the sharp spike in the price of hydrocarbons, local private investors retained their interest in this type of new activity.

2.58 In the area of energy management, an area of concern for government authorities during the period of the second PRSP action plan, the energy supply policy involved identifying beneficiaries and the area of intervention for “operation butanization” (in the Triangle de I’Espoir or Triangle of Hope).

2.59 As far as refined hydrocarbons are concerned, implementation of the second action plan under the PRSP led to the following outcomes: (i) enactment of an oil law, which provides for a regulatory mechanism embodied by the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNHY); (ii) adoption of a decree regulating the licensing criteria for hydrocarbons processing; (iii) segmentation of the butane gas market, which cleared the way for new private operators with huge supplies of cylinders; (iv) the adoption of several regulatory provisions, notably decrees establishing the pricing elements for petrol and butane gas; (v) service station surveys; (vi) establishment of a solidarity fund, through which 6 billion ouguiyas were generated in 2009 for the government budget; and (vii) incorporation in 2009 of a new company, GIP-SA, to rehabilitate and manage intake, transfer, and storage infrastructure at the Nouadhibou refinery, through a partnership between the Mauritania Refinery Industries Corporation (SOMIR) (30 percent) and the National Mining Industries Corporation (SNIM) (70 percent). This partnership will make it possible to mobilize about UM 9 billion to carry out these works and address the issue of securing Mauritania’s supplies.

2.60 In the area of telecommunications, four main objectives were established: (i) developing telecommunications infrastructure; (ii) strengthening the institutional framework; (iii) boosting ICT use; and (iv) fostering competition and improving service quality.

2.61 In the area of telecommunications infrastructure, more fixed and mobile networks were rolled out between 2006 and 2010 throughout the national territory.

2.62 Several outcomes from efforts to strengthen the institutional framework bear noting: (i) the development of interactive tools (email, Internet, Intranet, helpdesk), thanks to which exchanges between various government directorates became possible; (ii) the development of an IT platform for government departments (Datacenter, equipment procurement, expansion of the high speed Intranet); (iii) the development of information systems (electronic mail management, drafting of IT blueprints for ministerial departments), which improve efficiency in government departments; (iv) the development of major portals in Internet technologies, (public service, management of departments’ action plans, competition management, etc.); and (v) establishment of an economic interest group (EIG) comprising the three telecommunications operators and MAURIPOST to implement and manage the project to connect the country to the ACE submarine cable.

2.63 On the ICT development front, the telecommunications sector experienced significant growth, especially in GSMs, where the number of subscribers exceeded two million, with annual growth of more than 35 percent; (ii) broadband service grew with the entry into service of ADSL lines and 3G in certain regional capitals; and (iii) teledensity reached 70 percent in 2008.

2.64 In terms of enhancing competition and improving service quality, implementation of PRSP II enabled: (i) the granting of a 3rd GSM license; (ii) three operators to secure a global (Fixed-Mobile-Internet) license; (iii) enhanced competition among mobile operators, especially in terms of rates, with the advent of a third carrier; and (iv) improvements to be made in the quality of service from the carriers.


2.65 As the other profiles have shown, poverty in Mauritania is first and foremost rural. The review of this focus area will concentrate on the rural sector, which provides a livelihood for over 60 percent of Mauritanians and is one of the main sources of economic growth.

a. Rural development

2.66 Many initiatives were undertaken over the period 2006 -2010. Nevertheless, the fact that they were implemented had little impact on the fundamental objectives, which are to: (i) foster growth in this sector so as to assure Mauritania’s food security; (ii) assure equitable access to resources; (iii) increase the supply and availability of the goods and services needed to develop the sector; (iv) improve the capacity for managing integrated and inclusive rural development; and (v) strengthen the mechanism for monitoring serious diseases, such as avian flu, etc.

2.67 The absence of a clear medium and long-term strategic vision explains in large part the difficulties experienced by the sector in the past few years. For that matter, since the sectoral strategy was drafted in 1998 and reviewed in 2001, no strategic approach for the sector has been developed despite the stocktaking exercise conducted in 2007 and the sectoral policy memorandum prepared in 2009. The findings from these exercises were intended for use in developing a strategy that could pave the way for comprehensive development of the various value chains at a time the 2007-2008 food crisis and other recent exogenous shocks exposed the vulnerability of countries such as Mauritania.

2.68 As far as agriculture is concerned, the actions undertaken in the course of this period involved: (i) land use planning and management and rehabilitation of 6,300 hectares of irrigated land over the period of PRSP II; cereal production averaged 151,000 metric tons annually, covering approximately 30 percent of the country’s cereal needs; (ii) improving supply and marketing by providing access to isolated farmlands through construction of 83 km of dirt roads atop dykes in the oasis zone, feeder roads and bridges in the valley (21 bridges et 5 access alleys), increasing storage capacities and developing tailor made credits; (iii) implementation of a major support program for the sector under the Special Intervention Program (PSI) of which one of the major components was the irrigation sector; (iv) debt clearance for small farmers operating in the sector by means of a government buy-out of over UM 7 million of their debt with a view to improving the economic lot of the farmers; (v) establishing the Agricultural Works Corporation (SNAT); (vi) implementing a program to protect crops against animal incursions by fencing 14000 ha with barbed wire using local manpower paid out of the project’s funds; and (vii) implementation of annual crop pest control programs (desert locusts, locusts, corn stalk borers, etc.). In addition to these actions, efforts were undertaken to protect crops against animal incursions, especially in rain-fed agriculture areas.

2.69 In the area of oasis agriculture it bears emphasizing the significant support provided to Oasis Mutual Credit Institutions (MICO) through training and close supervision. Furthermore, a major water control program consisting in sinking wells and constructing sills to slow the water flow rate was implemented.

2.70 Regarding livestock rearing, the main issue remains a lack of integration between the agriculture and livestock rearing sectors despite the policy letter issued for the livestock-rearing subsector since 2004. Under PRSP II, the following actions were implemented: (i) veterinary infrastructure was put in place (111 vaccination yards; 28 veterinary pharmacies; 107 pastoral wells; 40 pastoral reserves); (ii) implementation of programs to develop fodder growing (fodder growing on 180 ha); (iii) implementation of a genetic improvement program in the cattle and poultry value chains; (iv) organization of annual cattle prophylaxis campaigns with a vaccination coverage rate against the major diseases moving from 52 percent in 2005 to 94 percent in 2009; as well as (v) the completion of studies on the red meat value chain and the milk producing areas in the south. Other actions were implemented or are in process, which will make it possible to enhance the value added by the sector (central cattle market in Nouakchott and the establishment of the livestock farmers credit union).

2.71 As far as rural planning and development is concerned, several actions were undertaken to manage rainwater and irrigation: 20 dams and 14 sills were built; protective dykes were built, dykes and diguettes reinforced, the dead arms of the river at Koundi and N’Diorol were recalibrated and 159 km of outfall tubes built. Rural development also includes maintenance and upgrading of dams, dykes, and diguettes during preparation for crop years in the various growing areas.

2.72 All value chains in the rural sector are still subject to constraints however. Among the constraints are the lack of organization among producers, lack of accountability, lack of clear policy on research, training, and outreach, and on land use management.

b. Urban development

2.73 The action plan of the PRSP for the 2006–2010 period was based on the following focus areas: (i) infrastructure development in urban agglomerations; (ii) economic development of towns and cities; (iii) improving urban management; and (iv) strengthening coordination and capacity building among those involved in implementation in these focus areas.

2.74 In terms of town planning, the period saw clear institutional improvements that provided significant political impetus to the sector, which paved the way for: (i) completion of land restructuring and consolidation in the Kebba of El Mina, which helped provide land tenure to over ten thousand households, who were settled on appropriate sites and provided with basic services; (ii) the launch of three major operations to restructure squatter settlements in Nouakchott (Hay Saken for 6000 households, Arafat) and Nouadhibou; (iii) approval of the town-planning code as well as drafting of the implementing provisions; (iv) approval of the general construction regulation; (iv) an inventory of land reserves in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou; (v) urban police actions to prevent squatting; (vi) resettlement of occupants of the blocs rouges buildings as a prelude to developing a modern downtown area, on which design studies are being carried out; (vii) the start of urban renewal operations in Rosso, Tintane, and the new moughataa of Dhar; and (viii) providing new land-tax bases, in particular by creating a new commercial and industrial zone to encourage investment and other bases that can provide a way to address specific constraints (settling the blocs rouges issue in Nouakchott; resettlement of people affected by restructuring programs in squatter settlements.

2.75 Despite the still low supply of housing solutions, significant progress has been made, especially: (i) the completion and marketing of the 1050 housing-unit program carried out by SOCOGIM in collaboration with local banks; (ii) the construction of 2100 housing units for social housing between 2006 and 2008 in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou; (iii) the construction of about 1000 housing units in Nouakchott, essentially through private real estate developers through agreements with the government; (iv) the completion and partial marketing of 1485 serviced lots in Nouakchott, and a program to develop 884 lots earmarked for social housing and now under construction in Nouakchott (El Mina); (v) the award of land concessions to private international developers to expand the housing market; (vi) the establishment of ISKAN, a company formed from a merger between SOCOGIM and ANAT as a mechanism to develop the sector; (vii) approval of a strategic development plan for administrative buildings and a housing strategy; and (iv) the adoption of measures that will help remove the bottlenecks in the construction and public works sector and promote the use of local materials.

Box: 2.2 :Slum upgrading in the major cities

The period between 1960 and 2010 was one of major changes in Mauritania, in terms of the distribution of its population across the country’s territory, but also within the urban agglomerations. These changes thus thrust the country once and for all into the category of urban countries, in that its urban population has grown steadily to reach almost 1,939,000 inhabitants in 2010, or 60 % of the total population, estimated at 3,300,000 habitants.

These figures exemplify the rapid growth of the cities, the pauperization of huge swathes of the population living on the outskirts of the cities, pressure on urban equipment and infrastructure, as well as the increased demand for housing and access to basic services. In Nouakchott alone, the population in squatter settlements was estimated in 2008 at 194,000 inhabitants (25 % of the city’s total population) or approximately 38,800 households occupying an area of 1072 hectares.

The determination of the government authorities to clear squatter settlements and offer people there more decent housing conditions led to the development and implementation of integrated restructuring programs for these neighborhoods.

These programs were aimed at reducing the effects of poverty and to tackle vulnerability in urban areas by offering needy segments of the population: (i) land tenure; (ii) access to decent housing and suitable social infrastructure; and (iii) access to simplifed housing and small business loans.

The first of these operations was carried out between 2003 and 2007 in El Mina, in the form of a pilot operation. This operation helped guarantee land tenure to over 16,000 households and implement a major construction program (faciliities and infrastructure) costing almost 4 billion ouguiyas.

Subsequently, the government opted for a more affordable particpatory approach that emphasizes administrative and communal authorities action to rehabilite the other squatter settlements of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.

This approach heavily involves representatives of segments of the population in awareness raising, information, and identification of the households concerned. This is the approach adopted in restructuring the Arafat squatter settlement and that also made it possible, between 2008 and 2010, to restructure the Hay Saken squatter settlement, with its almost 6000 households.

c. Promoting microfinance and microenterprises

2.76 Over the period 2006-2010, the essential objective defined in the national microfinance promotion strategy adopted in 2003 focused on developing a savings and loan culture customized to the needs of poorer segments of the population. The main challenge is to foster the emergence of a viable and lasting MFI network covering the entire territory.

2.77 The breakdown of public-private sector operators in this area does not yield an exhaustive assessment, although it is clear that microfinance activity grew by leaps and bounds buoyed by growing demand and a plethora of approaches and players (CAPEC, MICO, Beit El Maal, Nissa Bank, GFEC, etc.). A review of the most important activities carried out between 2006 and 2010 shows the following: (i) an increase during the period of the number of users, which went from 94,000 in 2004 to 185,000 users in 2009; (ii) an increase in the stock of credit distributed, which rose from 7.41 billion ouguiyas in 2006 to 18.9 billion ouguiyas by end-December 2009, which is a progression of 155 percent; (iii) the increase in deposits over the same period was 154 percent compared with 2006. These deposits were calculated at 5.4 billion UM in 2010; (iv) in the area of micro financing for women, financing of 436 projects in 2006 and 4,475 projects by the Nissa-Bank totaling 505,898,381 ouguiyas; (v) issuance through Beit El Maal, a fledgling institution under the Twize Program, of over 70,000 microcredits for income generating activities in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou totaling over one billion ouguiyas; and (vi) adoption of a special legal and regulatory framework and the organization of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of the framework.

Box: 2.3 :Microfinance: a customized legal and regulatory framework

Developing microfinance is a key focus area of the government’s strategy to anchor growth in the economic sphere directly benefiting the poor. In fact, microfinance development is an essential component of the national financial system, in that it contributes to diversification of the system and allowing the vast majority of citizens to benefit from financial services geared toward them, given the role of MFIs in developing a culture of savings and of financing of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) and Income Generating Activities (IGA) for population segments that have no access to banking services.

Mindful of the importance of this sector, the government authorities in 2007 began a review of the legal and regulatory framework for microfinance. It was against this backdrop that a new law (Ordinance No. 005/2007) was enacted, as well as its implementing provisions (4 instructions from the Governor of the BCM were issued). This regulatory framework made it possible to: (i) to separate out those provisions governing the microfinance sector from those governing banks and financial institutions by establishing more regulations that are better suited for the sector with emphsasis on more transparency and professionalism; and (ii) to put an end to the monopoly wielded by the cooperatives and credit unions by opening up the profession to other legal entities, notably business corporations (classified under category B) and NGOs, development projects, and associations (classified under Category C).

Under this new regulatory framework existing insitutions had their licences renewed under Law 008/98. Renwal of their licences was granted based on two criteria set out in the Ordinance, namely: (i) yearly audits to verify actual activity; and (ii) observance of the declarative obligations required by the BCM.

d. Food security

2.78 In addressing food security, the action plan for the 2006-2010 PRSP was built around four complementary focus areas: (i) promoting lasting solutions to food insecurity; (ii) strengthening the early warning system; (iii) improving intervention capacity; and (iv) improving coordination and capacity building for those involved in implementation in those focus areas, while taking into account the recommendations in the national nutrition development policy.

2.79 In the absence of a food security strategy, an initial outline of which had been made in 2004, the main actions undertaken between 2006 and 2010 addressed the following: (i) creation of over 3,500 village security stocks in rural areas, ensuring that food is available and in close proximity; (ii) replenishment of the national food security stock; (iii) implementation of a program of local development promotion projects (execution of 256 food security micro projects); (v) distribution of food to the neediest (32,000 tonnes); (vi) execution of safety net programs for vulnerable population segments (478 IGAs); (viii) subsidized sales of staples under the PSI (44 000 tonnes); (ix) implementation of a nutrition program (465 Community Feeding Centers, 1,460 CRENAM and 10 school canteens); and (x) rehabilitation of storage infrastructure (20 warehouses with a 1000- tonne capacity and 15 with 200-tonne capacity).

e. Targeted poverty reduction programs

2.80 Targeted poverty reduction programs are generally implemented by government structures on the ground (police stations, ANAIR, etc.) for vulnerable and sensitive segments of the population (the indigent, beggars, graduates, returnees etc.).

2.81 The PRSP action plan for 2006-2010 emphasized on refocusing these programs based on four essential guiding principles: (i) targeting; (ii) an integrated approach; (iii) a participatory approach; and (iv) systematic use of project managers.

2.82 The following was made possible as a result of programs implemented during the period 2006-2010: (i) setting up of social and community infrastructure (health and education); (ii) improved access to basic services (safe drinking water, electricity); (iii) construction of water infrastructure and improving access to isolated areas; (iv) securing employment for young graduates; (v) financing of income-generating activities; and (vi) assistance to the vulnerable (beggars, the handicapped, refugees, persons suffering from the after effects of slavery…) as well as assistance to victims of disaster.

2.83 Generally, these programs were developed and implemented using a participatory approach involving all central, regional, and local actors (departments, territorial administration, elected representatives, civil society, beneficiaries, and development partners) at all levels of the project cycles.


2.84 Mindful of the interdependence between the success of growth acceleration policies, anchoring growth in the economic sphere directly benefitting the poor, and the need for developing human resources and broadening access for the poor to basic services, the government maintained this focus area at the core of its priorities in the PRSP.

2.85 In this connection, the second PRSP action plan covering the period 2006-2010 defined eleven priority areas with strong poverty reduction potential and disparities. They are: (i) education; (ii) literacy; (iii) technical and vocational training; (iv) health and nutrition; (v) water and sanitation; (vi) employment promotion; (vii) population policy; (viii) promoting women and gender equity; (ix) child welfare; (x) social protection; and (xi) universal access to basic services.

a. Education

2.86 The objective of the education sector, for the second phase of the PRSP, was to produce human capital capable of fostering the country’s economic and social development. It was intended that this objective would be achieved through implementation of a strategy structured around: (i) boosting the possibilities for education by restructuring the educational options available (public and private alike) to better meet demand; (ii) enhancing the quality of education; (iii) improving internal and external efficiency so as to provide highly qualified workers to boost productivity in the traditional sector, foster its development, and meet the needs of a modern sector that will have to expand in the coming decades; and (iv) improve and strengthen the management and leadership of the educational system.

2.87 Efforts were continued during implementation of PRSP II to build/rehabilitate infrastructure for schools and training and recruit and train teaching staff

2.88 In primary education, enrolment increased appreciably from 465 887 pupils in 2005/2006 to 512 998 pupils in 2008/2009, which is a growth rate of 10 percent from one period to the next. The number of schools reached 3 793 compared with 2 980. Private schools accounted for 7 percent in 2006 and 10 percent in 2009.

2.89 The gross enrolment ratio (GER) at the basic level, which was 96.9 percent in 2006, was at 99 percent in 2009, thus outperforming the target of 98 percent set in 2010. The boy/girl ratio is slightly in favor of the girls (50.4 percent). The retention rate is still low, in that only approximately 61 percent of pupils complete their primary education. The likelihood of completing primary education is higher for boys (42 percent) than for girls (34 percent). The GER target in 2010 was achieved in all the wilayas, except Gorgol (90.09 percent) and Hodh Charghi (86.8 percent).

2.90 At the secondary level (first cycle), the GER dropped, from 27.7 percent in 2006 to 22.9 percent in 2009, reflecting the same downward trend observed in the percentage of pupils promoted from primary to secondary schools: 56 percent in 2006 as against 36.7 percent. There was a contraction of 15 percent in secondary school enrolment over the same period, with a GER of 32.8 percent for boys and 28.4 percent for the girls. A drop in the quality of education at this level was also observed, as illustrated by the poor BEPC and Baccalauréat examinations. The implementation of the reform exposed a dire need for science teachers capable of teaching in French.

2.91 In terms of tertiary education, several reforms were introduced, specifically: (i) implementation of the Bachelors-Masters-Doctorate (LMD) system; (ii) appointing university authorities through elections; and (iii) adopting several regulatory provisions (on the status of teachers and researchers, operations at the National Higher Education Board, etc.).

2.92 Furthermore important actions were carried out, namely: (i) establishment of a medical faculty; (ii) establishment of a Higher Institute of Business Accounting and Administration (ISCAE); (iii) establishment of a Higher Institute of Technological Education in Rosso (ISET); and (iv) start of construction on the new Nouakchott university campus.

2.93 Male/female parity has not been achieved in this subsector, because girls account for less than a quarter of enrolment. In addition, the lack of internal effectiveness is the main characteristic of this level of the education system, if the particularly high failure rate is anything to go by. In fact, over three quarters of students enrolled in first year repeat their first year and the overall repeat rate at the University of Nouakchott for the 2008/2009 academic year was 59 percent.

2.94 Quality wise, despite the significant increase in the number of students enrolled, tertiary education in Mauritania is still suffering from low internal and external effectiveness. Regarding internal effectiveness, the failure rates are relatively high. Regarding external effectiveness and despite the lack of recent data, the available data show high unemployment rates among University of Nouakchott graduates.

2.95 The main factors explaining the lack of success in higher education are for the most part linked to the very academic nature of the courses taught, the lack of scientific research, underequipped workshops and laboratories and the non-involvement of the private sector.

b. Literacy and traditional education

2.96 As regards literacy, the objectives of PRSP II were to: (i) enable all Mauritanians 14 years and over to master reading and arithmetic; (ii) improve retention rates in primary schools; (iii) strengthen initial literacy through post literacy and basic income-generating, activity-oriented vocational training; and (iv) develop writing through self-directed training.

2.97 Although the literacy situation changed for the better in recent years, as exemplified by the improvement in the overall literacy rate (61.5 percent in 2008 as against 57.5 percent in 2004), the fact remains that it falls short of the levels originally hoped for. As far as equity is concerned, real disparities continue to be observed between men and women (70.3 percent and 54.4 percent, respectively) and between their residential background (73.3 percent in urban areas as against 50.3 percent in rural areas). Nevertheless, the intensification of efforts both upstream (primary schools) and downstream (working people who are still illiterate) are sure to help improve the success rate in tackling this scourge, which still affects a large proportion of the country’s working age population.

2.98 Over the period 2006-2010, action was geared toward: (i) implementing a vast program of awareness raising campaigns and literacy courses for tens of thousands of persons (40,250 adults are now literate); (ii) constructing over 1,600 classrooms for literacy classes; and (iii) implementing a media-based literacy program, which reached over 6,100 adults, 97 percent of which were women, in addition to a special literacy program for 1000 women.

2.99 In a bid to address traditional education, efforts were geared toward building 10 model mahadras with accommodation for students and making the traditional curricula available on line.

2.100 Regarding Islamic affairs, several discussion forums were organized in Mauritania as well as in neighboring African countries (44 preaching missions in 11 countries) during the month of Ramadan, or for the Koran recital competition or preparation of the logistics for the annual pilgrimage. The training sessions and capacity building workshops that were organized helped improve the skills of imams and religious leaders. Substantial support was put in place to ensure the proper functioning of 514 mosques and 350 mahadras and guarantee payment of the allowances of 4,593 imams.

2.101 The guidance provided to the sector yielded positive results, in particular: (i) the strengthening of the regulatory framework organizing the waqf and compulsory alms and (draft decrees prepared, stalls built at the El Mina market, revitalization of the publishing unit, drafting of requests); and (iii) a study carried out on the restructuring of the ISERI to institute, inter alia measurement of the LMD system

c. Technical and vocational training

2.102 Regarding technical and vocational training: the objectives were: (i) to carry out far-reaching reforms focused at the institutional level on unifying leadership for the sector; (ii) improving governance of the Technical and Vocational Training FTP system; and (iii) revive the forums for government-employer consultation (National FTP Board).

2.103 The achievements in this area are as follows: (i) increased capacity in training centers; (ii) refurbishing of facilities in several training streams; (iii) training of scores of teaching and management staff; (iv) setting up and outfitting by the SNIM (still underway) of a technical and vocational training center; (v) development of over 24 training programs based on the Competency-based Approach (APC); (vi) experimental implementation of these new programs was completed for the brevet technique (BT) diploma in the tertiary sector and is being extended to the CAP diploma; (vii) setting up a twinning arrangement for implementation of the quality process; and (viii) on-the-job training for over 2,700 persons.

d. Health and nutrition

i. National health policy

2.104 The health policy pursued had the following main objectives: (i) improve life expectancy and quality for Mauritanians by reducing overall mortality and morbidity, particularly maternal and infant and child mortality and morbidity; (ii) increase the interval between pregnancies and reduce the overall fertility rate; (iii) mitigate the impact of endemoepidemic diseases, including HIV/AIDS and emerging diseases on the country’s psychological and socioeconomic development; (iv) reduce hunger and malnutrition among the population, in particular among the vulnerable; (v) guarantee access for children in difficulty and vulnerable groups to effective, sustainable, basic services adapted to their needs; (vi) strengthen community participation in developing and managing strategies for access to basic services; and (vii) improve intersectoral coordination.

2.105 An analysis of Mauritania’s health situation shows persistently high maternal, infant, and infant-child mortality rates, which are, respectively, 686 for every 100.000 live births, 122‰, and 77‰. With these rates, and based on the findings of the national MDG monitoring report published in 2010, and given the current pace of change in the indicators, only the MDG on combating AIDS can be achieved by the 2015 deadline if sustained efforts are made. However, it is unlikely that the targets geared to reducing child mortality and improving maternal health will be reached in 2015.

2.106 In terms of health coverage, 67 percent of Mauritanians have access to a health facility within a radius of 5 km, but the spatial breakdown is uneven, i.e. 98 percent in Nouakchott, as against 52 percent in Hodh El Gharbi. In response to this situation, extensive strategies have been developed for health coverage, flat fees for obstetrical care, with a view to reducing substantially the proportion of people without easy access to a health facility and who generally live in poor rural, remote, or isolated areas.

2.107 Health coverage was strengthened, thanks to: (i) construction of a regional hospital in Zouerate and 33 health posts; (ii) rehabilitation of 8 health post; (iii) outfitting of 4 regional hospitals and 45 health posts; and (iv) establishment of three specialized hospitals (CNC, CNO, CHME), conversion of four regional hospitals into general hospitals. Communications equipment was also provided, as well as automotive equipment (ambulances, light vehicles, and all-terrain vehicles).

2.108 In the fight against disease, the main preventive, curative, and supportive care and attention actions to reduce maternal and infant-child mortality and morbidity focused on: (i) extending the flat fee for obstetrical care to the three eastern wilayas (the two Hodhs and l’Assaba), to Nouadhibou, Gorgol, and Brakna; (ii) ensuring regular immunization campaigns for children under 5 years; (iii) providing insecticide-treated mosquito nets; (iv) organizing awareness raising campaigns among the people; (v) free treatment of obstetric fistula; and (vi) training of health practitioners: physicians (obstetrician-gynecologists, urologists, and pediatricians), midwives, assistant birth attendants, and nurses.

2.109 Nevertheless, the current status of the fight against disease is characterized by the absence of an effective strategy for developing quality services capable of providing rapid relief to suffering patients, especially children and expectant mothers. Consequently, few people seek care at health facilities (0.6 contacts per person per year), hence the rise in the numbers of some patients turning to hospitals abroad or traditional medicine, in the case of the poor. It bears noting that there is a huge delay in the implementation of the community approach.

2.110 In order to improve performance in the sector, the following main actions were undertaken: (i) drafting and adoption of a three-year action plan for 2010 -2012; (ii) formulation of the action plan for achieving the MDGs; (iii) review of the 2009-2011 MTEF; and (iv) organization of annual reviews of the sector and strengthened supervision and monitoring of actions.

ii. Nutrition policy

2.111 In the area of nutrition, the main initiatives involved: (i) developing a national community nutrition program; and (ii) implementation of a national program to change nutritional habits in communities; it involved opening 194 community nutrition centers (CNC) in seven wilayas with a high prevalence of malnutrition to serve 9 857 pregnant women and 12 504 breastfeeding women. As a result of these CNC, 18 693 children were able to have their growth monitored.

2.112 This new thrust was further strengthened by: (i) the development and validation of a national communication strategy to modify behavior toward nutrition; (ii) establishment of the National Nutritional Development Board and its Standing Technical Committee and regional commissions; (iii) human resources capacity building in the regional coordination centers in the areas of nutrition and communication (recruitment of 14 specialists in nutrition and communication and training of 194 nutrition practitioners); (iv) implementation of the joint program for acceleration of funding of the fight against malnutrition in the southeast; and (v) implementation of the national protocol for treatment of severe malnutrition, and the national strategy for the feeding of nursing infants and preschool children and directives for vitamin A supplements.

e. Water and sanitation

2.113 The 2006-2010 PRSP action plan singled out one overall objective for the water and sanitation sector, which was to improve in terms of quantity and quality at affordable prices sustainable access for all to water and sanitation. This objective was to be realized through work on the following strategic focus areas: (i) improving access to safe drinking water; (ii) an inventory and the protection water resources; (iii) improving sanitation; (iv) promoting public-private partnerships; and (v) building capacity in the sector.

2.114 Some progress was made possible in addressing the issue of safe drinking water, in that 58.3 percent of households had access in 2008, compared with 52 percent in 2004.

2.115 In urban areas, 35 percent of households were connected to the public drinking water supply network through a private connection (35 percent in cities, including Nouakchott, managed by SNDE and 38 percent in cities managed by ANEPA). Although SNDE is the sole supplier of potable water in urban areas, for 62 percent of households, the principal mode of access to water remains water carts and water vendors. In areas lacking in basic services, especially in Nouakchott, Atar, and Rosso, the main mode of water supply is water carts for 84 percent of households and only 5 percent have access to a service line piping water into their homes.

2.116 Nevertheless, water consumption levels have not changed compared with 2006: 46 liters/day/person for households with a private service line and 18 liters/day/person for customers of water carts and other vendors. The dominant mode of access to water resources is pumpless wells for rural households (49.2 percent), whereas reliance on vendors is the most widespread supply source in urban areas (62 percent), and yet significant initiatives have been taken to develop the sector as a whole and more specifically to improve access to safe drinking water.

2.117 In terms of physical action in recent years the following projects and programs were implemented, including these in particular: (i) the water points project in the Sahel; (ii) projects to combat the guinea worm; (iii) the safe drinking water component of the Lehdada project; (iv) continuation of work on the Aftout Essahili project; (iv) outfitting of 350 water points; (v) completion of the project to strengthen the catchment areas of Aioun and Timbedra; (vi) piped water supply of the city of Nouadhibou, as well as strengthening and production and distribution in the cities of Bababé, Djiguenni, Kobenni, Bassikounou, Maghama, and Kankossa; (vii) continued execution of the Safe Drinking Water Distribution System (AEP) river project (21 stations); and (vi) implementation of emergency and priority in 2007-2008.

2.118 At the institutional and regulatory levels, several implementing provisions under the water code were adopted, in particular the decree creating the National Water Board and setting forth the terms and conditions for the organization and operation of the Board and the decree setting forth the conditions for the establishment of strategic water preservation zones. Furthermore, ANEPA was converted into a public entity and named the National Rural Water Services (ONSER). This agency is entrusted with ensuring safe drinking water supply in rural areas, monitoring management and maintenance of water installations and infrastructure in rural and semi-urban areas.

2.119 Conducting an inventory and ensuring the protection of water resources are of critical importance in a context such as Mauritania where water resources are scarce. In this connection, the following actions were implemented: (i) inventories of existing water points were carried out; and (ii) fresh resources were developed.

2.120 Sanitation, long the Cinderella of the sector, has come in for attention again in the recent past, which paved the way for a number of actions geared to the: (i) establishment of a National Sanitation Bureau; (ii) construction of 30 new area drains; (iii) procurement of two water ditch diggers; (iv) implementation of pilot projects for the manufacture of sanitation equipment (in compliance with the prevailing standards); (v) bypass works on the Nouakchott Polyclinic; (vi) rehabilitation of the Nouakchott filtration plant; and (vii) building of sewerage networks in Rosso, Aleg, and Kaédi.

2.121 Nevertheless, the sanitation situation is still characterized by low access to latrines (45.7 percent of households nationwide). In rural areas 68 percent of households do not have latrines. In urban areas, 56 percent of households have latrines and only 13.6 percent have flush toilets.

2.122 As far as promoting public-private partnerships is concerned, the following actions were implemented: (i) application of the procedures for outsourcing public water supply; and (ii) among the activities carried out by operators practicing differentiated prices per meter cube, establishment of a water rate schedule.

f. Employment

2.123 Regarding employment, during the period 2006-2010, the objectives of PRSP II were to: (i) maximize job creation; (ii) organize the labor market; and (iii) improve the quality of jobs.

2.124 In this connection, the main actions carried out covered the following: (i) development of an employment strategy; (ii) incorporation of the decentralized approach to employment in regional poverty reduction strategies; (iii) promotion of self-employment through the financing of entrepreneurial projects and counseling and advisory services for unemployed graduates; (iv) organization of internships for job seekers; (v) start-up of activities under the Micro-finance Capacity Building Program (PRECAMF); (vi) expansion of activities under the highly labor-intensive Stonework Development Program (PPPT) to several wilayas; and (vii) the launch and extension of the National Integrated Micro-enterprise Program (PNIME).

g. Population policy

2.125 In terms of population policy, the objectives established in PRSP II were to: (i) reduce the overall fertility rate from 4.7 to 4.2; (ii) build capacity to implement and monitor the population policy; (iii) ensure harmonious regional development that encourages people to remain in their home towns and places of origin; and (iv) reduce gender inequalities.

2.126 In this connection, change in the main population indicators was observed to be slow, particularly overall fertility and the rate of contraception use, which have been virtually stable for the past ten years: the overall fertility rate was 4.6 percent in 2007, compared with 4.7 percent in 2000; contraception use increased slightly but remains among the lowest in the world, i.e. 9.3 percent in 2007 as against 5.1 percent in 2000.

h. Culture, youth, and sports

2.127 The sectoral strategy for culture sought to achieve the following three main objectives: (i) to promote culture and the arts; (ii) to conserve and promote cultural heritage; and (iii) to promote publishing and public readings.

2.128 The main achievements in this area are the: (i) enactment of a law to protect intangible heritage; (ii) organization of annual cultural festivals and interregional cultural tournaments; (iii) implementation of conservation plans and master plans for ancient cities, such as Koumbi Saleh, Aoudaghost, and Aghreijitt; and (iv) establishment of a system of micro credits to finance arts and crafts and heritage-related trades.

2.129 On the youth and sports front, the objectives established in the second PRSP action plan were to: (i) address the specific needs of youths; and (ii) promote high-level competition sports.

2.130 As far as youths are concerned, the following actions were carried out: (i) creation of several counseling centers to raise awareness among youths of certain scourges such as drugs, STDs, HIV/AIDS and clandestine migration; (ii) training of outreach officers, trainers in peer education, and peer counselors (over 500 officers and counselors trained); (iii) construction and rehabilitation of youth centers (Tidjikja, Atar, Aleg, and Selibaby; and (iv) establishment of a national youth network.

2.131 The following initiatives were taken in the area of sports: (i) organization of a National General Assembly on youth and sport; (ii) training of 80 physical education and sports (EPS) class teachers to teach discipline in secondary schools and universities; (iii) building of an multisports stadium in Kaédi and a stadium in Nouadhibou (where turf is currently being laid as part of the FIFA GOAL project); (iv) development and outfitting of a sports facility for women’s sports by the Olympic Complex Office; and (v) upgrading the Olympic Complex Office to FIFA standards.

i. Promoting women and gender equality

2.132 As far as promoting women, early childhood, and social protection are concerned, the plans under PRSP II were to: (i) boost women’s participation in the economy; (ii) improve access for women to basic social services; (iii) promote women’s right to political and social participation; (iv) develop behavioral change strategies; (v) build the department’s institutional capacity; (vi) improve the supply and quality of early childhood education and care for children with special needs; (vii) develop a national social protection strategy; and (viii) provide better medical care and education to vulnerable groups—the handicapped, children in difficulty, women heads of household, the elderly—and offer them an environment enabling their integration and socioeconomic development.

2.133 Regarding promoting women and gender, some progress was recorded with 50.4 percent of primary school enrolment girls, 18 percent of members of parliament women (Senate and National Assembly) and 30 percent in the municipal councils. In addition, in 2007, several women had assumed positions of leadership such as hakems and walis and 20 percent of ministerial portfolios were occupied by women in 2009. In contrast, there is still progress to be made in secondary and tertiary education, literacy, employment, the fight against genital mutilation, early marriages, etc. In fact, the GER in secondary schools is 28.4 percent for girls, compared with 32.8 percent for boys; enrolment of women in tertiary education is still under 25 percent, while illiteracy and unemployment continue to affect 45.6 percent and 42 percent of women, respectively. By the same token, practices such as female circumcision and early marriages remain widespread in Mauritanian society.

j. Child welfare policy

2.134 The following actions were implemented in the area of child welfare: (i) the adoption in 2006 of a national child welfare development policy; (ii) improvement of preschool education coverage across the different modes of education and child care, which reached 7 percent in 2009 as against 5 percent in 2005; (iii) construction and equipment of premises for the Early Childhood Training Center; (iv) recruitment and training of a core of trainers, training of 485 kindergarten caregivers and 250 community kindergarten teachers; (v) construction/rehabilitation and buildout of 16 regional early childhood resource centers; (vi) opening of 23 public kindergartens and development of a national preschool program custom designed for Mauritanian children; (vii) creation and outfitting in 2007, of a center for the protection and social integration for children victims of VEDAN, thus strengthening arrangements for their protection; (viii) construction of a center for the integration and readaptation of children who have run afoul of the law; and (ix) execution of a program to compensate and integrate 463 former child jockeys working in the United Arab Emirates and support for strengthening basic social services in their places of origin.

2.135 The regulatory framework governing early childhood was strengthened by: (i) the adoption of an ordinance for the suppression of crimes against children; (ii) the training of judges, court officers and social workers; (iii) creation of a police division to deal with minors; and (iv) drafting and adoption of a decree establishing alternative measures to the detention of minors.

k. Social protection

2.136 In addressing social protection, the prime imperative was to develop a national social protection strategy (SNPS), which takes fully into account the multidimensional nature of the issue. Concurrent with the drafting of the SNPS, work on social action and the safety net for the most vulnerable was to be continued, as well as actions that would pave the way for mechanisms for risk sharing in health.

2.137 The objectives of PRSP II were to: (i) evaluate and revise the existing legal framework to gear it toward promoting and protecting the rights of all vulnerable groups; (ii) develop infrastructure in a more centralized and equitable fashion by enabling rural areas to benefit from it; (iii) strengthen coordination among the various actors involved in the social sphere; and (iv) improve the capacities of deconcentrated social services.

2.138 Actions were implemented in these areas, namely: (i) the expansion of infrastructure for children with special needs (schools and centers for the blind and deaf mute) and the enrolment of 500 handicapped children; (ii) capacity building for associations catering to the handicapped and distribution of several batches of appropriate material (500 wheelchairs, 200 crutches, 200 white canes); and (iii) care for the sick and indigent.

Box: 2.4 :Early childhood welfare

An assessment of the second phase of the PRSP shows that the childhood dimension has undergone substantial changes in terms of the political, strategic, and institutional vision. Efforts were focused, during the period, on improving the overall framework for developing early childhood and defining strategic guidelines for protecting and promoting children’s rights. Several child welfare provisions were thus enacted, among them Law N° 2007-042 of September 3, 2007 making slavery a crime; Ordinance N° 2005-015 of December 5, 2005 for the prosecution of crimes against children and Law N° 2003-025 of July 17, 2003 to punish crimes of human trafficking.

On the international scene, Mauritania also ratified the international and regional human rights and children’s rights conventions, the most important of which are: (i) the Convention on the Rights of the Child (ii) the Additional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime; (iii) ILO Convention No. 138 (1973) Concerning the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment; (iv) ILO Convention No. 182 (1999) Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour; (v) the African Charter for the rights and welfare of the child; and (vi) the Protocol on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, on Establishing an African Court of Human and Peoples Rights.

The framework for protecting the rights of the child was strengthened through the drafting and validation of a national strategy for the social protection of children and the design of a protection system geared toward a reform of the National Child Welfare Board and the setting up of regional platforms for consultations on children’s rights protection.

Despite the determination of government authorities exemplified by these new provisions, the indicators are still cause for concern, especially in terms of child survival (an infant mortality rate of 122 for every 1000 births in 2007— MICS 2007), developing early childhood education (only 7 percent of children in the 3-6 year age group have access to education and preschool child care). Indicators on children without family support, victims of violence, abuse, or discrimination, are also cause for concern: the 2007 MICS survey estimates that 16.4 percent of children between 5 and 14 work and that over 100 children live in the streets sometimes or always and that 6 percent of beggars are children.

This alarming situation must prompt the inclusion of early childhood in the social protection strategy.

Universal access to basic services

2.139 The main objective established in PRSP II regarding universal access to basic services is to support the development policies for each sector (telecommunications, ICTs, electricity, water, and sanitation) through policies and programs aimed at improving access to these services, especially in favor of poorer populations and areas.

2.140 In this connection, the actions taken in the period between 2006 and 2010 involved: (i) setting up 14 thermal power plants and 7 others are being built in several locations throughout the country; (ii) decentralized rural electrification (through solar kits) in 24 communes with installation and project management of over 4,320 solar kits; (iii) the building of 5 functional platforms in 5 locations in Brakna; (iv) the setting up of 53 AEP networks in several wilayas in the country; (v) the outfitting of 42 wells; (vi) continuation of construction and connection works on 42 water towers; (vii) the setting up of 4 GMPES booths in 4 locations; (viii) creation of an Internet access and training center in El Mina; and (ix) invitations to bid for construction of the stretches of unpaved roads linking Néma to Oualata and for the stretches of unpaved roads between Koubeni, Medbougou, Voulanya, Touil, and Tintane.


2.141 The following strategic approaches had been established under PRSP II: (i) strengthening the rule of law; (ii) improving environmental governance; (iii) building government capacity; (iv) support for decentralization; (v) effective management of public resources; (vi) capacity building for civil society; (vii) promoting communication; and (viii) promoting a participatory approach.

2.142 Since 2008, these approaches were strengthened as a result of the firm resolve of the President of the Republic to make good governance a major focus area for government authorities’ action.

a. Strengthening the rule of law

2.143 Regarding public freedoms, strengthening democracy and transparency in citizens’ choices, the last five years saw the holding of multiparty and transparent presidential, legislative, and municipal elections. Many parties were recognized, including those that for a long time had been prevented from carrying out their activities. The electoral system was improved appreciably with the introduction of voting by Mauritanians resident abroad and the establishment of an Independent National Elections Commission (CENI), with successfully oversaw all the voting that took place (presidential, legislative, and municipal elections). The voters’ lists and results of the various elections were published on the Internet, which contributed significantly to the credibility of the elections, as did reliance on local and foreign observers.

2.144 National unity and social cohesion, central pillars of the rule of law, were promoted through specific measures to settle humanitarian issues arising from the events of 1989 (signing of memoranda of understanding between government authorities and eligible beneficiaries, as well as with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees) and the organization of the return and reintegration of Mauritanians displaced beyond the country’s borders following the events. In addition, Law 2007-048 of September 3, 2007 outlawing slavery and punishing slavery-like practices coupled with the implementation of a Program to Eradicate the Legacy of Slavery (PESE) designed to help, through the financing of specific projects, improve the living conditions in the vulnerable communities affected and enable their sustainable integration into economic and social life.

2.145 On the justice front, substantial work was carried out on writing codes and building capacity through: (i) the adoption of important provisions, such as the law making the above-mentioned slavery-like practices a crime, the law on the illegal trafficking of migrants, the main procedural provisions and special statuses, and the decree creating legal aid offices; (ii) upgrading the quality of human resources through the recruitment of judges and court registrars. This effort was further strengthened through the establishment of a National School of Administration, Magistracy, and Journalism (ENAJM); (iii) facilitating access for litigants, especially poorer litigants, to law and justice through the adoption of decrees on the structure and operation of legal aid offices and on the rate schedules for legal fees, the creation of legal aid clinics in judicial subdivisions and distribution of satchels for judges; (iv) improvement in the functioning of the institutions in charge of justice for minors and the conditions for the detention of minors, while putting specific mechanisms in place for their reintegration; (v) the construction of four departmental courts in Nouakchott, construction of the seat of the Supreme Court, the court house in Kiffa, resumption of work on the Nouadhibou and Aleg court houses; and (vi) strengthening monitoring through an Inspectorate General at all levels of the legal and judicial system.

2.146 As far as Human Rights are concerned, and in addition to the above-mentioned actions, (the Law making slavery a crime, the PESE program, return and reintegration of returnees), the actions carried out essentially involved setting up a National Human Rights Commission, the reports of which are published regularly. The legal texts establishing the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) were also revised to strengthen the Commission’s capacity for action and upgrade it to the same level as its counterparts throughout the world.

2.147 Parliament’s capacities and scope for intervention were also strengthened through an increase in budgetary resources, further work on targeted support projects run by development partners and the setting up of a High Court of Justice whose role is to apply penalties to members of parliament who have been found guilty of breaches in the course of duty, thus demonstrating in law and in practice, that the principle of accountability applies to all.

b. Improving environmental governance

2.148 The measures taken in this area covered: (i) including the environmental dimension in public policies; (ii) strengthening the institutional and regulatory framework of the sector; (iii) stanching the loss of natural resources; (iv) institutional reform; (v) climate change; (vi) biodiversity; and (vii) international commitments.

2.149 As far as mainstreaming the environmental dimension into public policies is concerned, efforts in this area resulted in: (i) a comprehensive analysis of the environmental governance system in all ministerial departments with environment-related activities. Based on the assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the procedures, actors, policies, programs and projects, institutional and legal reforms were proposed (directives for the integration of the environment in public policies, revision of the framework law on the environment, etc.); (ii) capacity building for environmental assessment stakeholders as one way of integrating the environment; and (iii) drafting the first agendas 21, tools for planning sustainable development activities on the scale of the moughataa.

2.150 The initiatives to stem the loss of natural resources were focused on: (i) carrying out a series of economic analyses of promising forestry subsectors to identify non-wood forestry products in the wilayas of Guidimaka and Hodh El Gharbi; and (ii) setting up a national branch office of the Mauritania-Senegal Regional Biodiversity Project, which carried out joint actions with cooperatives to implement development plans for classified forests, wetlands, and forestry pasture trails, in addition to supporting income-generating activities and promoting forestry by-products.

2.151 Regarding institutional reform, actions were geared to: (i) establish a ministerial department in charge of the environment, whose responsibilities were subsequently expanded to encompass sustainable development; (ii) adoption of the National Environmental Action (PANE), the National Sustainable Development Strategy (SNDD) and the action plan for risk and natural disaster management; and (iii) carry out a strategic environmental and social assessment of activities in the oil industry, the effects of which will influence the timing of the next program schedule.

2.152 As far as climate change is concerned, in addition to implementation of its National Adaptation Action Plan through the launch of its priority project to support adaptation of agricultural production systems vulnerable to climate change, Mauritania placed special emphasis on preserving the city of Nouakchott against encroaching sand and flooding.

2.153 In the field of biodiversity, above and beyond the annual campaigns to combat brush fires, it bears noting that work was carried out on Mauritania-Senegal biodiversity in the form of inventories and mapping.

2.154 Lastly, the country discharged its international obligations under the fourth Operational Phase (OP 4) of the GEF Small Grants Program, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biodiversity, the Montreal Protocol, and the Kyoto Protocol, and the participation of a high-level delegation in the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009.

c. Building public administration capacity

2.155 In this area, the following were established as the main objectives in the second action plan under the PRSP: (i) to strengthen the institutional and organizational framework; (ii) to ensure optimal management of the government’s human resources; and (iii) to improve the quality of service to the public.

2.156 In a bid to achieve the above-mentioned objectives, the government authorities focused their action on the following areas over the period 2006-2010: (i) start of the work to restructure the civil service following the civil service head count; (ii) strengthening human resources in the sectors of education, health, and customs administration; (iii) adoption and enforcement of special statuses for National Security and Civil Protection staff; (iv) revision of the status of university lecturers with a view to promoting scientific research; (v) publication online of the list of administrative formalities, public service portals, and the government’s electronic platform; (vi) preparation of a list of specifications for the establishment of an integrated government staff management system; and (vii) recruitment and training (still underway) of 500 government employees at ENAJM with a view to filling upcoming vacancies left by staff taking retirement in several sectors of the civil service.

2.157 Other action was focused on: (i) modernizing territorial administration through the continuation of the program in which residences were built for the administrative authorities, premises were built for the Prime Ministers Office and a host of ministries and government agencies financed from the central government budget or in partnership with friendly countries; (ii) the start of programs to modernize the Administrative Command Network (RAC) and; (iii) renewal of the motor vehicle fleet and increased appropriations for operations.

d. Efficient and transparent management of public resources

2.158 In pursuit of this goal, the following main objectives were established in PRSP II: (i) to improve the efficiency and transparency in the management of public resources; and (ii) to include explicitly in public policies the themes of tackling corruption, misappropriation of public resources, and the relationship between citizens and government.

2.159 In terms of fiscal programming and execution, the emphasis was placed on: (i) having Parliament present and adopt annual laws and regulation; (ii) pursuing reforms geared to the deconcentration of the functions of authorizing officers, financial controllers, and accountants in all central and regional entities; (iii) development of an integrated government finance information system; and (iv) creation of a pilot Economic Program Monitoring Technical Committee (CTSPE) at the BCM, which should pave the way for improving collaboration and exchanges among all stakeholders with roles in reporting economic data and building capacity in the various agencies involved in government finance.

2.160 In terms of management of government assets and tax affairs, efforts were geared toward setting up an accrual accounting system, restructuring land ownership and a number of tax administration reforms, including the creation of a large taxpayer bureau, changing to a functional administration based on the size of the taxpayer, and improved taxation of the informal sector, reducing the tax rate, partial or full exemption for pharmaceuticals and staples, and a cut in rates on various types of income.

2.161 In addition to the above-mentioned efforts, the imperatives of a rationalized and restructured management system had repercussions on the public administration. In this connection, it bears noting that hundreds of phantom positions in the civil service were purged following the head count and cross-checking exercises that had been carried out, vehicles previously assigned to government employees were transferred, housing and other allowances allocated to civil servants were restructured, the allowances and other perquisites afforded to the administrators of public institutions and semipublic companies were established by decree, and diplomatic representations were restructured, thus enabling the redeployment of diplomatic posts with a view to greater diplomatic presence for Mauritania and cost savings.

2.162 These measures are in addition to those aimed at improving revenues, among other things. One such measure is the revision of agreements with mining and oil companies, which helped raise the country’s share in revenues from copper and gold mining. Note that the National Committee on the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) already published its 2006 report and began work on preparing audit reports on FY07 and FY08. These reports will afford the Mauritanian public essential information on revenues collected by the government from mining and oil production and how they are used.

2.163 In this connection, a draft law embodying the Government Procurement Code was also adopted kicking off a major reform of the national procurement system. This also includes the strengthening of human and other resources of control organs, which include the Court of Auditors, whose statutes have been reviewed to increase its independence and boost the number of its chambers, the Government Inspectorate, the Inspectorate General of Finance, and the internal inspection units of the ministries. Through these efforts, the Treasury was able to collect huge sums of money and several important cases were prosecuted, thus sending a clear message that there would be no more impunity and that public finances need to be properly managed.

2.164 Furthermore, a remarkable effort was made in the fight against corruption and the misappropriation of public goods through the punishment of any proven cases of misappropriation or mismanagement and through several awareness-raising campaigns against mismanagement and corruption. In this regard, The National Strategy for the Fight Against Corruption (SNLC) was adopted. This strategy includes a detailed action plan with a view to the eventual elimination of corruption in all spheres of society.

2.165 From as far back as 2007, a law on financial transparency in public life was adopted. Under this law, all public officials occupying positions in which they managed public resources or which would become sources of illegal personal enrichment were required to declare their assets. This process did not yield any results, because the national commission in charge of implementing it was given very few resources with which to work. The government authorities are currently reviving the commission with a view to the sustainable implementation of the provisions of the law.

e. Decentralization

2.166 Taking the decentralization process further was one of the major directions in PRSP II, given the key role that decentralized stakeholders play in the economic and social development process.

2.167 The major achievement in terms of decentralization was the adoption at the April 22, 2010 sitting of the Council of Ministers of the “Decentralization and Local Development Policy Declaration”, which reaffirms the political resolve to make decentralization an irreversible choice. More specifically, the declaration will be incorporated in the Territorial Local Government Code, a draft of which has been completed. Note also continued efforts to increase appropriations to the Regional Development Fund (FRD) as part of improvements in financial transfers to the communes. By the same token, it bears noting that more and more communes are being involved in the development process, through their participation in selecting which investments will be made in their territories for which they are responsible, and their monitoring role in the investment process as project owners or beneficiaries is strengthened

2.168 This progress in deepening decentralization was strengthened by advances made in the field of land use planning and development, including: (i) the adoption and enactment of the framework law on land use planning and development; (ii) the drafting of regulatory provisions on land use planning and development, as well as the setting up of agencies provided for in the framework law on land use planning and development, in particular the National Observatory on Land Use Planning and Development; (iii) the launch of the Interim Program for Joint Development of the Karakora Basin; and (v) the launch of a pilot support program for sedentarisation, specifically in Hodh el Gharbi.

f. Building capacity for civil society

2.169 Civil society organizations have developed significantly in recent years and are increasingly involved in government authorities’ economic and social initiatives. Their role as a countervailing force and monitor of government action is becoming increasingly accepted.

2.170 The main objectives established in the PRSP II action plan were to: (i) build civil society capacity, specifically through revision of the approval procedures; (ii) ensure actual implementation of the NGO Support Fund (FAPONG); (iii) develop and implement a broad-based capacity building program; and (iv) provide technical and logistical support to the civil society Cyberforum.

2.171 As far as the actions implemented are concerned, they involved; (i) developing a civil society strategy; (ii) setting up or consolidating civil society capacity building programs (PASOC, FAPONG, etc.); and (iii) modernizing the legal framework for civil society by drafting additional provisions to establish appropriate legal remedies.

g. Promoting communication

2.172 Mindful of the importance of communication in consolidating the rule of law and ensuring that good governance is firmly rooted, the second PRSP action plan was aimed at pooling, organizing, and coordinating all national efforts to promote communication.

2.173 In this area, the efforts undertaken involved the: (i) establishment of the Press and Audiovisual High Authority (HAPA); (ii) adoption of several legal and regulatory provisions (press freedom, liberalization of the electronic media, public assistance for the press, press cards, etc.); (iii) launch of the process of opening up government-owned media to political parties and civil society; (iv) setting up a second television station (TVM-Plus); (v) conversion of the second station of Radio-Mauritanie into a rural radio station for awareness raising and outreach to promote development; (vi) establishment of Radio Koran; (vii) continuation and increase of printing subsidies for newspapers; (viii) organization of briefing sessions for journalists; (ix) support of organizations representing media workers; and (x) setting up of focal points in charge of communication in all ministerial and similar departments.

h. Promoting a participatory approach

2.174 Promoting the participatory approach in all cycles of public policy-making and development is a major imperative in the design and implementation of the PRSP, given its: (i) contribution to creating a climate of good governance; (ii) role in maximizing Mauritanians’ full potential; and (iii) enhancing the impact of public policies.

2.175 In this regard, under PRSP II, the government’s intention was to deepen the participatory process at the central, regional and local levels.

2.176 Nevertheless, the different institutional changes occurring during the period 2006-2010 hindered the proper functioning of the participatory drafting process for annual reports on implementation of PRSP II.

2.177 The sole implementation report covering the period 2006-2007 was completed using the participatory approach, involving all stakeholders in all their diversity (central government and territorial administrations, communes, civil society organizations, and the private sector, resource persons, and development partners) in meetings of the Sectoral Technical Committee (CTS), Technical Thematic Groups (TTGs), consultation committees and interregional workshops.

2.178 This review covering the entire period of PRSP II was drafted using the same participatory approach and culminating in a National General Conference in February 2011, which was open for the first time to political parties.


2.179 The various PRSP action plans that have been implemented since 2001, did not yield any notable progress in terms of monitoring and evaluation, despite the mechanisms that had been defined and set out regularly in the implementation reports. The lack of meaningful progress in this key area of development prevents government agencies and policy makers from making the adjustments needed to drive the development actions and policies and strategies implemented.

2.180 The shortcomings noted in the area of monitoring and evaluation and coordination prompted government authorities to place the emphasis, in the design phase of the 2006-2010 PRSP, on the need to take appropriate measures in this focus area, with a view to providing a clearer grasp of the level of effectiveness of government action.

a. Institutional mechanism

2.181 The drafting of the second PRSP action plan featured a new strategic focus area geared toward strengthening leadership, monitoring, evaluation, and coordination, which completes the four initial focus areas of the PRSP. In pursuance of this aim, a decision was taken to pursue the following measures: (i) establish a TTG dedicated to monitoring and evaluating implementation of the PRSP; and (ii) develop a National Statistical Development Strategy that includes monitoring and evaluation indicators for the PRSP and the MDGs.

2.182 Subsequently, Decree 2007-103 setting out the composition of the institutional mechanism for designing and monitoring the PRSP was adopted. The decree provides for a leadership, coordination, and monitoring and evaluation system, with clearly defined boundaries.

2.183 However, this mechanism has not operated on a regular basis and its operations were limited to one-off instances when the PRSP implementation review and monitoring documents were drawn up. In fact, the weaknesses and loopholes it was supposed to address subsisted, namely: (i) the lack of regular updates of the reporting tools; (ii) the lack of a monitoring and evaluation culture in departments; (iii) the non-binding role of the PRSP in sectoral programming; and (iv) the lack of stakeholder ownership of the process.

2.184 Some of the main causes of such dysfunctions are: (i) the lack of regularity in the operation of the CTS and TTGs, whose work is hampered by constant reshuffling of staff positions and changes in the configuration of certain ministerial departments; (ii) the inefficiencies of monitoring and evaluation staff; (iii) a data system based on often too-generic and hard to enter indicators; and (iv) insufficient operationality of the existing sectoral planning and monitoring staff.

2.185 Other no less important causes also bear noting: (i) local governments and deconcentrated staff are practically absent from the institutional evaluation mechanism and the civil society, which is showing signs of interest is still fragile; (ii) on the whole, administrative data systems are weak and do not constitute an operational priority, even though it is mentioned in the statistical development strategy; and (iii) there is no system in place yet for establishing genuine benchmark scenarios before policies, programs, and projects are implemented.

b. The monitoring and evaluation system

2.186 In this area, the results recorded during the period 2006 - 2010 are weak and fall short and involve the three components of the monitoring and evaluation system: (i) implementation of the PRSP; (ii) monitoring of poverty; and (iii) evaluation of the PRSP.

2.187 Monitoring of implementation of PRSP II was intended to cover the following: (i) changes in allocations of credits, in particular, how much of it was used and how it was used; (ii) the implementation status of planned activities; and (iii) the degree of achievement of the established objectives based on the monitoring of the indicators.

2.188 Activity monitoring was not systematic and in most cases restricted to ad hoc missions prompted by the development partners. This situation impacts heavily on the quality of PRSP implementation reports.

2.189 Of the 253 indicators selected for monitoring PRSP, only 38 percent of them had been filled in for the reference year established as 2004. The relatively low number of indicators filled in is attributable to the low relevance and ill-suitedness of certain indicators to the national context and to the failure of the national statistical system to fill them in.

c. Reporting tools

2.190 In PRSP II, the reporting tools proposed were the: (i) resource monitoring tables; (ii) quarterly sectoral priority action monitoring log; (iii) quarterly background paper and interim report; (iv) annual PRSP implementation report; and (v) evaluation reports on the impact of the PRSP.

2.191 Among these various tools, only one Implementation Report was drawn up in 2008; it covered the period 2006-2007. The shortcomings observed in the monitoring of the PRSP are genuine and resulted mainly in the implementation of many actions that had not been provided for in PRSP II, to the detriment of some priority actions.

d. Coordination

2.192 In this area, the emphasis was supposed to be placed on the following objectives: (i) streamlining the Government-TFP dialogue mechanism; (ii) strengthening programming and management of government finances (including procurement procedures); (iii) improving coordination of development partners and harmonization of their procedures; and (iv) focusing on monitoring and evaluation-related aspects.

2.193 Coordination of government action is assessed as weak and restricted to drawing up sectoral action plans since early 2006. Furthermore, failing a proper operation plan for the PLRPs, the Regional Poverty Reduction Committees were unable to play the role devolved of coordinating development actions at the regional level.

2.194 Streamlining of the Government-TFP dialogue mechanism led to the organizing of several meetings and discussions with Mauritania’s development partners: the Advisory Group for Mauritania in December 2007, meetings of Arab and Islamic donors in March 2008, then, in November 2010, the Brussels Round Table in June 2010 preceded by several preparatory meetings to ensure concerted action at the Round Table, to review the PRSP, and to draft the third action plan for 2011-2015, etc.

2.195 In terms of strengthening programming and management of government finances, it bears noting that despite the preparation of PRSP II, a comprehensive MTEF in 2007, a PIP and budget laws, there has been no proper alignment between these different programming instruments. Nevertheless, this shortcoming will be corrected as part of the preparation of PRSP III and the other programming instruments (MTEF, PIP, LFI). As far as the management of government finances is concerned, several reforms were initiated in coordination with the TFPs and will be addressed in a government finance blueprint.

2.196 Furthermore, the law establishing the Government Procurement Code was enacted, the National Anti Corruption Strategy was adopted by the Council of Ministers, and the revision work on the Investment Code is at an advanced stage.

2.197 Regarding enhanced coordination between development partners and harmonization of their procedures, despite the determination shown by these partners, a great deal remains to be done in this area.

e. Making the PRSP operational

2.198 Making PRSP II operational was intended to be the result of three main actions: (i) ongoing updating of sectoral and thematic reports to align them with the guidelines set out in the PRSP; (ii) making the PRSP operational at the regional level through the PRLPs; and (iii) making the PDCs operational with a view to implementing the PRLPs at the level of the communes.

2.199 Apart from the drafting and updating of some PRLPs and PDCs, no meaningful progress has been made in these areas.

2.200 The PRSP does not yet allow for an ex-ante impact assessment of the reforms envisaged so as to better guide public expenditure and, more important, identify the subgroups of the poor population targeted for poverty reduction.


2.201 Mauritania acceded to the Millennium Declaration proclaimed in 2000 and incorporated the Millennium Development Goals in its development policies and programs. Indeed, the attainment of these objectives established for 2015 coincides with the implementation period for the PRSP (2001-2015) and was incorporated into the PRSP. There are eight objectives, namely: (i) to halve extreme poverty and hunger; (ii) provide universal primary education; (iii) promote gender equality and empower women; (iv) reduce child mortality; (v) improve maternal health; (vi) combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; (vii) ensure environmental sustainability; and (viii) develop a global partnership for development.

2.202 Success in achieving these objectives is therefore closely linked to implementation of the PRSP, which was hampered by: (i) international crises (the food and energy crisis, financial crisis, and global warming crisis); (ii) institutional changes in the country during this period; (iii) problems of low capacity in successive governments and; (iv) lack of alignment of the programming tools (PRSP, MTEF, PIP, and LFI).

2.203 Nevertheless, despite these difficulties, the country is poised to achieve some of the Millennium Development Goals. As far as other targets are concerned, it is progressing, although there are areas where progress is far less than needed and that call for changes in direction and the redoubling of efforts.

2.204 In fact, the MDGs can be reached in terms of universal access to primary education (the second goal), which is a remarkable breakthrough, in that the net enrolment ratio in primary schools was a mere 48 percent in 1990.

Table 2.4 :MDG Education
N° 2.1 Net enrolment ratio in primary education49%51%62,6%65%68%70%71%72,2%76,7%71,6%
73,8%74%64%59%45,3%47,3%48%46,5%49,3%58,5 %
Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary
N° 2.3 Literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds, women and men45,8%46,7%48,3%56,4%58,9%60,1%69.7%63,7%57,6%77.5%
Source. Provisional MDG Report - March 2010
Source. Provisional MDG Report - March 2010

1.1 Net enrolment ratio in primary school

1.2 Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach the last year of primary

1.3 Literacy rate of 15-24 year olds, women and men

2.205 In the education sector, girl/boy parity in primary education, which was 0.72 in 1990 was already achieved in 2000/2001 (component of objective 3).

2.206 As far as water is concerned, it is possible that the proportion of the population with access to an improved drinking water source (satisfactory) can reach 74 percent in 2015, whereas the proportion was 37 percent in 1990, which would bring it in line with MDG Goal 7.

2.207 Last, the indicators available on HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tubercolosis, (MDG Goal 6) show that these diseases are no longer progressing and that is possible to reverse the trend towards their expansion and achieve the corresponding MDGs.

2.208 Nevertheless, the latest report on the MDGs (in 2009) shows that significant progress has been made in other areas but not enough to achieve the MDGs (See Box 6).

2.209 Those areas are: (i) poverty reduction (reduced from 57 percent in 1990 to 42 percent in 2008); (ii) the girl/boy parity in secondary schools has still not been achieved (33 percent for boys as against 28 percent for girls in 2008); and (iii) the participation of women in policy making, which improved remarkably since 2006 and needs further work to achieve the target.

2.210 In contrast, for the last group of goals, the situation is still worrying and progress has not been satisfactory. The MDGs in question are 4 and 5 on maternal and child health. In fact, the child mortality rate, which was 122‰ in 2007 is still far from the target set for 2015, which is 45‰ and in terms of maternal mortality, the rate is 686 for every 100,000 live births, whereas the target set for 2015 is 232.

2.211 The scenario is the same for reproductive health, where the contraception prevalence rate for married women between 15 and 49 years of age was only 9 percent in 2008, whereas the target set was 100 percent.

Box: 2.5 :The MDGs: the health challenges

The situation in Mauritania with regard to the attainment of the MDGs is particularly worrying in the health sector where the country has the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the subregion, that is to say, 686 deaths for every 100,000 live births for women and 122 deaths for every 1000 births for children in 2007 compared with the targets of 232 and 45, respectively, by 2015. Furthermore, the contraception prevalence rate for married women between 15 and 49 years was only 9 percent in 2008, whereas the target was 100 percent.

As far as maternal mortality is concerned, a host of factors explain the high level of the maternal mortality ratio: (i) home deliveries without specialized assistance, where the national rate is estimated at 39,2 percent; (ii) insufficient technical support at all levels; (iii) early pregnancies, pregnancies at close intervals, and repeated pregnancies; (iv) illiteracy and poverty; and (v) low access to high quality maternal care for at-risk pregnancies, especially in cases where a Caesarian section is needed.

The establishment of the mother and child hospital center and application of an obstetrical flat fee across the board will contribute appreciably to improving the situation. The measures already taken will be strengthened by the following main measures: (i) a better functional coverage of health facilities geographically ((reaching) the most remote or isolated locations); (ii) managing fertility (availability of resources and trained personnel); (iii) availability of medicines and qualified caregivers to tackle the above-mentioned most frequent causes of maternal mortality, especially hemorrhaging and eclampsia; (iv) enhanced anti-malaria prophylaxis for pregnant women; (v) free treatment where there are signs of malnutrition during prenatal examinations; (vi) intensification of IEC activities to address behaviors linked to social gender relationships; and (vii) training for surgeons and their assignment to health facilities.

On the child mortality front, an analysis of available data shows that the largest infant-child mortality gaps are linked to living conditions and nutrition, mothers’ level of education, residential background, and the wealth index.

It follows from the trends in pediatric health and from an analysis of the main causes of infant and infant-child mortality that efforts must be geared toward: (i) reducing poverty and malnutrition; (ii) making immunization programs effective and universal, so as to reverse the trend observed between 2004 et 2008. This will require ensuring better participation of population groups, better monitoring and periodic evaluations of their real impact; (iii) the availability of services adapted to the specific needs of children, including pediatric emergencies. This will require the presence of pediatricians, infrastructure, and proper equipment and comprehensive treatment of the main causes of child mortality: IRAs; diarrheas and malaria; (iv) active involvement of communities in the programmed activities and use of IEC techniques to promote positive changes in attitudes, mindsets, and behaviors; and (v) improvement in prevention levels by making changes in children’s environments and hygiene. The main change is improved access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

As far as universal access to reproductive health for married women is concerned, access to contraception is adversely affected by: (i) unhelpful mindsets in certain religious milieux; (ii) unavailability of contraceptives; (iii) low technical capabilities of service providers; (iv) lack of IEC; and (v) the lack of interest on the part of civil society in addressing these issues.

The work carried out has allowed for certain measures to be taken: (i) establishment of the National Reproductive Health Program (PNSR); (ii) the inclusion of contraceptives in the list of essential medicines; (iii) celebrating RH week since 2003; and (iv) capacity building for family planning service providers.

For the future, efforts will be focused essentially on: (i) continuing and consolidating the measures already taken, especially those aimed at the most vulnerable; and (ii) intensification of awareness raising campaigns on the importance of reproductive health.

Annex 1: Summary table of the main reforms implemented in the period 2006-2010

1. Fiscal policy

  • ▪ Promulgation of a new Government Procurement Code (2010);
  • ▪ Further deconcentration of the functions of authorizing officers, financial controllers, and accountants in all central government and regional entities;
  • ▪ Development of an integrated government finance information system;
  • ▪ Drafting of a template for budget forecasting and universal application of the MTEF;
  • ▪ Modernization of the tax administration and reform of the tax system;
  • ▪ Rewriting of the legal provisions;
  • ▪ Revision chart of the Government Chart of Accounts and the introduction of an accrual accounting system;
  • ▪ Amendment of the government accounting regulations in 2006;
  • ▪ Limits imposed on recourse to exceptional procedures for public expenditures (2007 MOF order);
  • ▪ Performance assessment of government finance management in 2008 (PEFA);
  • ▪ Splitting the Ministry of the Economy and Finance into two separate departments;
  • ▪ Restructuring (still underway) of the government payroll to eliminate phantom positions, redundancies and the perquisites afforded to certain government employees, who are no longer entitled to them;
  • ▪ A head count of government officials and employees as well as efforts to reconcile the civil service nominal roll with the payroll;
  • ▪ Elimination of the government’s water and electricity grants to employees, and replacing them with a lumpsum allowance for eligible government officials;
  • ▪ Discontinuing the practice of carrying fuel and vehicle maintenance expenses in the government budget and replacing them with a transportation allowance for all officials;
  • ▪ Rescindment of all housing agreements, starting in July 1, 2010, and payment of a non-housing allowance to all officials.

2. Monetary policy and financial sector reform

  • ▪ Continuation of a prudent monetary policy to control inflation;
  • ▪ Improve and diversify credit mechanisms;
  • ▪ Improve banking services penetration by increasing access to financial services and transparency of information, and by developing means of payment;
  • ▪ Organizing operations on the currencies market;
  • ▪ Lowering of the repurchase rate for Treasury bills, which serve as the key rate for the Central Bank, from 14 percent to 12 percent in October 2007 and from 12 percent to 9 percent in November 2009;
  • ▪ Setting up of a Monetary Policy Board chaired by the Governor of the BCM and entrusted with setting monetary policy;
  • ▪ Restructuring of the monetary policy operational framework, which saw the adoption of a new set of regulations and a new manual of procedures;
  • ▪ The creation of new intervention instruments (BCM bonds, Certificates of deposit, and Treasury bills) and expansion of the monetary market to all economic operators, who now have an appropriate framework for treasury management;
  • ▪ Creating BCM bonds geared to strengthening the operational independence of the monetary policy by enabling the central bank to use its own securities to regulate liquidity in the banking sector;
  • ▪ Setting up of a Monetary and Fiscal Policy Coordination Committee;
  • ▪ Paying off of external commercial arrears;
  • ▪ Lifting since October 2006 of all restrictions on payments of current transactions;
  • ▪ Establishment in January 2007 of a foreign exchange market, which signaled a turning point in Mauritania’s foreign exchange policy.

3. Development of the private sector and foreign trade

  • ▪ The entry into service of the ASYCUDA ++ system (2010) was designed to increase revenues by putting in place a raft of regulatory measures (Budget law, tariff schedules, régimes, etc.) and by universal application of the procedures in all computerized offices;
  • ▪ The threshold for the lump sum taxation of industrial and commercial profits (BIC) was raised from between 3 and 6 million ouguiya (depending on the sector) to a uniform threshold of 30 million ouguiya;
  • ▪ The rules of the minimum flat tax (IMF) were simplified with all companies subject to a uniform lump sum tax of 2.5 percent of turnover (2010) and the tax on the BIC was established at 25 percent of commercial profits;
  • ▪ The lump sum system is declarative and not presumptive, with declarations made using a simple form;
  • ▪ Promotion of the regulation of consultations and trade negotiations by establishing the National Consultative Commission on International Trade (CNCCI),
  • ▪ Establishment of the National Steering Committee for the Economic Partnership Agreement;
  • ▪ Promulgation of the law on the standardization and promotion of quality;
  • ▪ Establishment of a national system for standardization, promoting quality and creation of new industrial units;
  • ▪ Establishment of an industrial information system;
  • ▪ Development of a program to restructure and upgrade industrial enterprises;
  • ▪ Establishment of legal provisions governing the registration of industrial activity;
  • ▪ Adoption of a decree establishing an Economic Enterprise Support Commission designed to support companies in difficulty and forestall their bankruptcy;
  • ▪ Establishment of a handicrafts code;
  • ▪ Setting up of socioprofessional handicrafts organizations;
  • ▪ Drafting of the law on PPPs and revitalization of the Government-Private Sector Consultation Committee.

4. Mining sector

  • ▪ Improvement of the legal and regulatory framework, especially the 2008 Mining Law, which was revised in 2009, as well as its implementing regulations;
  • ▪ Institutional reform, in particular, the establishment of the Directorate of Mines Police.

5. Fisheries sector

  • ▪ Adoption of an ISPS code for the security of port facilities;
  • ▪ Signing of the maritime collective bargaining agreement.

6. Tourism handicrafts trade sector

  • ▪ The setting up of legal frameworks and institutional reforms to ensure proper supervision of the sectors;
  • ▪ Development of the 2007-2015 commercial strategy and tourism strategy.

7. Hydrocarbons sector (exploitation

  • ▪ Promulgation of a hydrocarbons law, which set up a regulatory mechanism with the creation of the National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNHY);
  • ▪ Adoption of a decree regulating the licensing criteria for hydrocarbons processing;
  • ▪ Adoption of several other regulatory provisions, notably the decrees establishing the pricing elements for fuel and butane gas (decrees 2006-030 of April 28, 2006, 137-2008 of June 10, 2008, 2007/041 of February 1, 2007 and 2009-024 of January 26, 2009).

8. Transport sector

  • In the land transport subsector:
  • ▪ Drafting and distribution to all ministerial departments and other relevant agencies of a compendium of implementing provisions (orders) for Decree No. 2007-006 of January 5, 2009 on the Road Code;
  • ▪ The establishment of a Public Transport Corporation (STP) and adoption of its articles of incorporation.
  • In the maritime subsector:
  • ▪ Revision of the Ports Code;
  • ▪ Reform of the merchant marine.
  • In the aviation subsector:
  • ▪ Establishment in 2009 of Mauritania International Airlines, a government-owned airline.

9. Rural development

  • ▪ Drafting of two implementing provisions under the livestock and pastoral code.

10. The environment

  • ▪ Creation of a Ministry in charge of the Environment and Sustainable Development, which succeeds the State Secretariat in charge of the Environment;
  • ▪ Adoption of the PANE and SNDD.

11. Water and sanitation sectors

  • ▪ Adoption of decrees implementing the water code;
  • ▪ Creation of an EPIC in charge of the operational aspects of sanitation.

12. Education sector

  • ▪ Overhaul of the regulatory framework for tertiary education;
  • ▪ Establishment of new tertiary institutions (ISET, ISCAE);
  • ▪ Launch of the restructuring process for initial training for teachers based on an organizational audit of teacher training institutions.

13. Health sector

  • ▪ Development and adoption of the National Pharmaceutical Policy;
  • ▪ Development and adoption of a National Child Survival Strategy;
  • ▪ Development and adoption of the Integrated Strategy to Combat Non-Communicable Diseases;
  • ▪ Mutualization and risk sharing.

14. Social affairs, child welfare, and the family

  • ▪ Ratification of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its optional protocol;
  • ▪ Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW);
  • ▪ Ratification on the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • ▪ Adoption of a gender strategy and framework law;
  • ▪ Establishment in 2008 of a national committee to fight against GBV, including FGM in 2008

15. Islamic affairs, traditional education, and literacy sector

  • ▪ Adoption of the National Literacy Strategy (SNA)

16. Culture, youth, and sports sector

  • ▪ Review of the legal framework governing the activities of the associative movement operating in the culture, youth, and sports sectors;
  • ▪ Adoption of the African Youth Charter;
  • ▪ Drafting of legal provisions necessary for the establishment of a fund to support the development of culture, youth, and sports activities.

17. Urban development, housing, land use planning and development

  • ▪ Revision of the regulatory provisions organizing the ADU;
  • ▪ Development and adoption of the regulatory provisions governing land use planning and development;
  • ▪ Adoption of the legal provisions regulating the architectural profession;
  • ▪ Drafting of a Construction Code and its implementing provisions;
  • ▪ Drafting and adoption of the implementing provisions on Public Project Ownership;
  • ▪ Adoption of implementing provisions under the General Construction Regulations;
  • ▪ Revision of the law on property development;
  • ▪ Redesign and finalization of the institutional structure of BEIT EL MALE under the Twize social housing program;
  • ▪ Drafting of implementing provisions under the urban development code, including the RGUS.

18. Employment, vocational training, and new technologies

  • ▪ Revision of the main legal provisions governing management of foreign labor;
  • ▪ Aligning government procurement and project execution procedures with LI specifications.

19. Food security

  • ▪ Reform of the consultation-coordination mechanism;
  • ▪ Creation of an independent agency to manage micro projects (Micro Projects Executive Agency-AEMP).

20. Human rights, humanitarian action, and relations with civil society

  • ▪ Adoption of Law 2007-048 of September 3, 2007 making slavery a crime and punishing slavery-like practices;
  • ▪ The signing of a memorandum of understanding between government authorities and individuals awaiting settlement of humanitarian claims;
  • ▪ Establishment of a National Human Rights Commission.

21. Justice

  • ▪ Promulgation of the law making slavery-like practices illegal;
  • ▪ Promulgation of the law on the illegal trafficking in migrants;
  • ▪ Revision of the procedural provisions and special statutes (organization of the courts, civil and criminal proceedings, status of judges, and status of court registrars);
  • ▪ Drafting and adoption of the decree on the structure and operations of legal aid offices;
  • ▪ Drafting and adoption of the decree establishing legal fees;
  • ▪ Creation of legal aid clinics in judicial subdivisions;
  • ▪ Distribution of case loads for judges.

22. Homeland administration and decentralization

  • ▪ Study carried out on a redrafting of the founding provisions of the Territorial Administration in 2008, which was intended to lead to a draft law;
  • ▪ The preparation of draft provisions on the structural review of the Territorial Administration (role and responsibilities of the administrative authorities to bring them in line with the context resulting from the many significant changes our country has undergone since the 1980s, related to the DE concentrated services of central government and other local partners, role in the local development process, and delimitation of the administrative divisions);
  • ▪ Design of the draft of special statuses for personnel of the Territorial Administration with an emphasis on the Administration’s role as territorial judge, which preserves the statutory rights of the personnel in charge of territorial command;
  • ▪ Adoption of important legal provisions (illegal trafficking of migrants, legal aid offices);
  • ▪ Establishment of the CENI in 2009;
  • ▪ The return to constitutional order after the elections of July 18, 2009.

23. Communication

  • ▪ Adoption of a law on the liberalization of the electronic media;
  • ▪ Creation of the Press and Audiovisual High Authority (HAPA);
  • ▪ Establishment of Radio Koran;
Annex 2: Public investment and financing program by sector 2006–2010

(in millions of UM)

Rural development7 42312 51317 76919 17912 994
Industrial development9 16513 42614 97915 39713 123
SNIM3 5003 5003 8614 9385 327
Territorial development and land use planning31 13641 35690 885105 020112 418
Human resources9 25212 40916 13216 3188 227
Institutional development1 4662 5716 9477 3397 055
Multispectral projects 1/7 2588 7249 70028 49415 022
Total investment69 20094 500160 273196 685174 165
Central government42 61361 93990 286114 128100 294
SONADER1 6593 5523 0262 048858
Semipublic institutions21 42825 50963 09975 57167 687
SNIM3 5003 5003 8614 9385 327
Financing69 20094 500160 273196 685174 165
Central Government42 61361 93990 286114 128100 294
Domestic resources22 06231 92440 44857 50450 618
Grants6 20410 57620 68620 54415 286
Loans (including Q.Grants)14 34719 43929 15336 08034 390
SONADER1 6593 5523 0262 048858
Domestic resources689652337306658
Loans (including Q. Grants)9702 9002 6891 742200
Semipublic institutions21 42825 50963 09975 57167 687
Domestic resources5 4645 7599 1798 74713 766
Grants871 5004 0401851 935
Loans (including Q.Grants)15 87718 25049 88066 63951 986
SNIM3 5003 5003 8614 9385 327
Grants3 5003 5003 8614 9385 327
Loans (including Q.Grants)00000
Memorandum entry
Domestic resources28 21538 33549 96466 55765 042
External financing40 98556 165110 309130 128109 124
Grants9 79115 57628 58625 66722 547
Loans (including Q.Grants)31 19440 58981 723104 46186 576
Annex 3: Progress in achieving the MDGs: Tracking the MDGs in Mauritania (1990-2010)
GoalsTargetsIndicatorsInitial resultCurrent resultMDG goal in 2015Likelihood of achievement
1. Eradicate extreme hunger and povertyTarget 1.A: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day1. Proportion of population below $1 (PPP) per day56,6%42%28,3%Unlikely
2. Poverty gap ratio (Incidence x depth)15,9%6,1%
3. Share of poorest quintile in national consumption4,6%6,3%9,2%
Target 1.B: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people4. Employment to population rationa27%100%
5. Proportion of own-account and contributing family workers in total employmentna69,6%
6. Unemployment ratena31,2%<20%
Target 1.C: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger7. Prevalence of underweight children under-five years of age47%39,4%23,5%
2. Achieve Universal Primary EducationTarget 2: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling8. Net enrolment ratio in primary education49%73%100%Likely
9. Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach last grade of primary73,8%49,3%100%
10. Literacy rate of 15-24 year-olds, women and men45,8%77.5%100%
3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower WomenTarget 3.: Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 201511. Ratio of girls to boys in primary, education0.72%1.02%1Likely
12. Proportion of seats held by women in national parliamentna19%50%
4. Reduce Child MortalityTarget 4: Reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate13. Child-infant mortality rate at the national level (per 1000)13712245Unlikely
5. Improve maternal mortalityTarget 5A: Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio14. Maternal mortality ratio (for every 100 000 births)930686232Unlikely
Target 5.B: Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health15. Proportion of married women (15-49) using a contraceptive method5%9%100%
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other DiseasesTarget 6: Have halted by 2015 and begun to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS16. HIV/AIDS prevalence among population aged 15-49 years0.6%< 1%Likely
17. Of the total, number of deaths of children under 5 due to malaria6%
7. Ensure Environmental SustainabilityTarget 7.A: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs and reverse the loss of environmental resources18. Proportion of land area covered by forest0.4%0.2%Unlikely
19. CO2 emissions, total, (in Mt)2.62.6
Target 7.B: Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss20. Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protectedna0.6%
Target 7.C: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation21. Proportion of population using an improved drinking water source37%62%82%
22. Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facilityna21,8%
1Note however the same rate of change in percentage terms (11.9%) between the area covered and extreme poverty from 2004 to 2008.
2Ratio of primary enrolment to national population aged 6 to 11.
3Sources: Mauritanian authorities, IMF, September 2010
4Change in inflation between two specific months

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