In this brief, ARDD seeks to understand the measures taken by the Islamic Republic of Mauritania to address the needs of those that are most affected by the Coronavirus pandemic; namely refugees, daily workers, women, children, and the elderly seniors.
Mauritania has declared the cities of Nouakchott and Kaédi as hot spots for COVID-19 after confirming 7 cases. However, the whole country is placed under a curfew from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM as a preventive measure to avoid an outbreak. With the announcement of the first Covid-19 case in Mauritania on March 13, a 25-billion-Ouguiya ($670 million) special solidarity fund was set up to fight the virus. It included including exempting low-income families from paying their water and electricity bills for two months.
The Fund dedicated 5 billion ouguiyas to be distributed – in monthly installments over a three-month period – as financial assistance to 30,000 families in need. These include women-led households, elderly people, and disabled persons, the majority of whom live in Nouakchott.
This three-month financial assistance that was dedicated to 30,000 families in need that are living the capital of Nouakchott includes basic food commodities such as rice, sugar, oil and dried milk, cleaning and sanitizing materials as well as cash assistance.
The government announced that it will cover all the taxes and customs fees related to wheat, oils, dried milk and fruits and vegetables for the rest of the year. In addition, the government will cover water-related costs in all villages for the rest of the year, with exempting craftsmen, small-business owners and householders working in traditional fishing from paying the relevant taxes for two months.
Furthermore, in cooperation with charities, volunteers and activists, the government has distributed financial and food assistance to families in need and those specifically affected by the quarantine. This has been done with the aim of preventing the violation of the government’s preventive measures that have been instated to stop the spread of the virus.
However, despite the establishment of the solidarity fund by the Republic of Mauritania, there have been calls by the Free Confederation of Mauritanian Workers (CLTM) for the government to take immediate measures to protect workers in the traditional fishing, mining and ground transportation, ports and water basins, construction and public works sectors as well as the informal sector due to the lack of income during this pandemic.
At the level of youth or organizational initiatives to fight the corona virus, the handicrafts sector, which includes many crafters of different traditional works, has provided the government with thousands of locally hand-made masks. The Chinese community and companies in Mauritania also donated medical materials and equipment like sanitizers, cleaning solutions, etc.
However, in terms of health services, more than 900 kidney patients in Mauritania are unable to find any aids or protective materials. The Mauritian National Association of Kidney Patients is therefore calling for their protection due to their vulnerability and their need to urgently and regularly go to the hospital.
On the other hand, the Mauritian Union of Women in Media is fully supporting the measures taken by the government to fight the virus, emphasizing the need to spread awareness among people about all the aspects related to combating the Corona virus.
With all measures taken there is still a need for further efforts to be exerted and more solidarity from the international community, state, private sector and the civil society to overcome this crisis.