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Strategic Environmental Assessment in Mauritania


Sectors of water, agriculture, livestock farming and fishing are priority domains in the Mauritanian Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP, 2006-2010). To reach this objective, the country made significant efforts in order to provide all its citizens with drinkable water and to struggle against resources scarcity, hydric pollution and inefficiencies in the water infrastructures.

In the domain of agriculture, the main environmental issues appear to generated by the irrigation systems and the pressure they apply on natural resources, as well as the biological and chemical degradation of soils. Regarding livestock farming, the majors environmental concerns are due to overgrazing, livestock settlements, feed availability and pasture desertification. Moreover, the cohabitation of livestock farming with agriculture is also a source of conflict. With respect to fishing, thanks to the exceptional Mauritanian littoral ecosystem, it is one of the major economic activity in the country. The consequence is a reduction of the halieutic resources, a phenomenon worsened by the overexploitation conducted by countries who bought fishing rights to Mauritania and practice intensive and industrial fishing in the region.

With a view to assessing thorough the situation and determining solutions and potential improvements in these domains, Mauritania and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, Nairobi) mandated sba to conduct two parallel and complementary studies in the framework of the Poverty-Environment Junction (APE) project in Mauritania:

  1. Economic analysis ( costs and benefits) of the environmental management in Mauritania, applied to Hydric, Pastoral and Halieutic resources (EnvEcon project)
  2. Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the sectors of Water and Rural Development in Mauritania (SEA project)


National capacity building

These studies will be realized thanks to a close collaboration between international experts (Switzerland and Mali) and the Mauritanian partners (national consultants and technical team). During the project implementation, especially through the coaching from the experts and the coordination from the project manager, national capacities regarding EnvEcon and SEA methodologies will be strengthened.

SEA project

The objective of the SEA project in Mauritania is to reinforce the integration of the environmental and socio-economic issues in the new Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP), which revision is planned for 2009. The assessment will focus on the domain of water and the rural sector (agriculture and livestock farming). The health sector assessment, also sponsored by UNEP-UNDP, has already been independently implemented.

In its strategic objectives, the PRSP focus on the natural resources sustainable management and the environment as a whole. The Mauritanian government plans to reduce the environmental an social costs of the national policy on hydraulic and rural development.

Through this SEA, we will elaborate an analytical tool to insure the integration of the environment in the redaction of policies, in view of the implementation of the poverty reduction strategy. The SEA will link social aspects with environmental concerns in the socio-economic development process. It will highlight the interdependency between poverty and environment, in view of the fragility of the country's economy and the population reliance on biological resources regarding food supply, health and income increase.

More specifically, this project will enable the Stakeholders to develop a common vision of the environmental risks related to the development of both sectors, through the analysis of the institutional, legislative and regulatory frameworks. Moreover, it will support the development of discussion and consultation between key Stakeholders and enable them to integrate the environmental issues in existing strategies and programmes.

Finally, an analysis of the technical and institutional capacities of the structures (public, associative, NGO's, etc.) will be realized in order to suppress the weaknesses and take up the challenge of Mauritania's global economic reflation programme, specially in the sectors of water and rural development.

Expected synergies

To conduct jointly the EnvEcon and SEA projects in a unique structure will insure the connection between the two analysis. This approach will strengthen each project and will lead to a better coherence in their conclusions and recommendations. However, the synergies between these two methods require the use of common analysis categories as well as a concerted leadership.

At the analysis level, the SEA project propose an database and action recommendations that the EnvEcon analysis can use to specify the assessment afterwards. Then possibilities of action highlighted by the SEA can also be documented by the EconEnv analysis. For instance, if the SEA identifies a need to integrate Stakeholders in the elaboration of land settlement plans and to determine the environmental impact of such plans, the EnvEcon analysis will propose a tool to prioritize the different options.

At the communication strategy and awareness raising level, gathering the EnvEcon and SEA approach will enable us to formulate common conclusions. This will reinforce the consensus regarding the recommendations and improve their acceptability.

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