Social situation From nomads to city dwellers

In the 1950s, three quarters of Mauritania’s population was still living as nomads. This has now fallen to a few per cent. According to World Bank figures, today almost 60 per cent of Mauritanians live in towns and cities.

Workers at a fish factory in the port of Nouadhibou, Mauritania

Workers at a fish factory in the port of Nouadhibou, Mauritania

Workers at a fish factory in the port of Nouadhibou, Mauritania

The development of urban infrastructure, for water supply and sanitation, for instance, has been unable to keep pace with the rapid growth of urban populations. This has resulted in vast slums. Moreover, rapid population growth has led to a situation in which over 60 per cent of Mauritania’s inhabitants today are below the age of 25. The training opportunities and jobs available to them are far from adequate.

Great poverty persists

Despite the reform processes, the social welfare of Mauritanians has scarcely improved in recent years. Even though the number of people living in poverty has fallen significantly since 2000, according to World Bank figures, more than 30 per cent of the population was still living below the national poverty line in 2019. Child mortality is still high (41 out of 1,000 children die before their fifth birthday) and there are still major deficits in terms of maternal healthcare. According to figures from the World Bank, the primary school enrolment rate stands at 80 per cent and only about three quarters of children finish primary school.

Development strategy

In 2001, the Mauritanian government prepared a poverty reduction strategy paper (PRSP). All sections of society participated in the production of the strategy. An updated version for the period up to 2030 (Stratégie de Croissance Accélérée et de Prospérité Partagée, SCAPP) was adopted by the parliament in 2018. However, a weak administration and a marked shortage of skilled workers and managers is hindering the realisation of the development goals outlined in the strategy.

As at: 25/07/2023