Mauritania - Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) - June 2022
Aminatou Mint Mohamed farms together with her family in the small village of Mentvaa in the Kankossa Municipality in Essaba, in southern Mauritania near the border with Mali. Before the arrival of IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility project (RPSF) implemented through the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, Communal Equipment and the Organization of Rural Producers Project (PROGRES), Aminatou and her family had a host of problems, including the lack of irrigation water and good seeds. They also had no fencing to protect their garden from animals that destroyed their crops. They also lacked the proper tools they needed to work with.
The project also provided her with a solar power system and water pump, a water tank and hoses for irrigation, as well as fencing that allowed them to protect their gardens from foraging livestock. Now, with irrigation, they can produce throughout the year, not just in the winter rainy season as before. Even in the middle of June, during the hottest and driest part of the summer, their water tank is full, and their garden is thriving.
“The RPSF found us in a bad situation. My husband is disabled, and I am the sole provider for our family. We have a water well that is deep and hard to extract water from, which makes it hard to get water for irrigating our garden plot. I did some old-fashioned gardening that wasn’t very productive. It was very expensive to buy vegetables in the market, and normally I didn’t have enough money. The project helped us with a solar panel, water pump and reservoir and good seeds. Now we grow enough vegetables for our family to eat and also to sell in the local market. We never had that before.”
Small-holder producers like Aminatou encounter obstacles to their development, in particular climatic conditions or the lack of logistical means. IFAD’s Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) helped reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their farming activities and safeguarded their livelihoods, making sure that weaker groups like youth, women and persons with disabilities were included.
Before the pandemic, smallholders could farm only during the rainy winter period, September to February or March, then migrated to the capital Nouakchott, or even further to Senegal or Mali for the rest of the year. But COVID lockdowns brought travelling to a halt, resulting in an extraordinary loss of income. Additional funds granted through the RPSF supplemented the PROGRES project by providing solar panels, water towers, bigger pipes and other equipment that make it possible for them to irrigate and cultivate their vegetable crops throughout the year. Now they have doubled their farming season and are proud to show their production of onions, eggplant, carrots, watermelon and other produce even during the dry summer months.
The Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, Communal Equipment and the Organization of Rural Producers Project (PROGRES) aims to improve food security and nutrition, increase the incomes of poor rural households, create jobs and reduce the country's dependence on food imports. Activities target poor rural households with a special focus on women and young people. The people in the region have struggled for years to stop the desert from taking over arable land. Climate change is making things worse. IFAD is working with communities to create a Great Green Wall to hold back the Sahara Desert.
The RPSF was implemented through the PROGRES project to help them recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic. It helped small-scale producers improve their agricultural productivity by ensuring quick access to inputs, such as certified climate-resilient seeds and farming equipment, that were impossible to get because of COVID-related lockdowns and movement restrictions.
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