Volunteering Mauritania! Go Volunteer Africa, the leading and largest volunteer travel organization welcomes you to Mauritania. Geographically part of the Maghreb, Mauritania is a land about desert and ocean. It is of course no wonder that the main attractions for most tourists are the desert in Adrar and the Tagant areas (around Atar), and the ocean in Banc d’Arguin (a natural reserve with dunes ending in the sea, full of millions of birds and protected by UNESCO).
Volunteering in Mauritania is becoming easier, with Go Volunteer Africa’s volunteer travel program. Starting 2023 Go Volunteer Africa will be offering a number of volunteer opportunities in Mauritania. To register to be a volunteer, or to reserve space on our volunteer team in 2023, please fill the placement reservation form and submit it.
MAURITANIA FAST FACTS
Mauritania, officially the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, is a sovereign state in Northwest Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara to the north and northwest, Algeria to the northeast, Mali to the east and southeast, and Senegal to the southwest. Mauritania is the eleventh largest country in Africa, and 90 percent of its territory is situated in the Sahara. Most of its population of 4.4 million lives in the temperate south of the country, with roughly one third concentrated in the capital and largest city, Nouakchott, located on the Atlantic coast.
Mauritania is culturally and politically part of the Arab world: it is a member of the Arab League and Arabic is the sole official language. Reflecting its colonial heritage, French is widely spoken and serves as a lingua franca. The official religion is Islam, and almost all inhabitants are Sunni Muslims. Despite its prevailing Arab identity, Mauritanian society is multiethnic: the Bidhan, or so-called “white moors”, make up 30 percent of the population, while the Haratin, or so-called “black moors”, comprise 40 percent. Both groups reflect a fusion of Arab-Berber ethnicity, language, and culture. The remaining 30 percent of the population comprises various sub-Saharan ethnic groups.
- CAPITAL: Nouakchott
- DAILING CODE: +222
- MONEY: Ouguiya (MRO)
- POPULATION: 4,005,475 (approx)
- COUNTRY SIZE: 1,030,700 sq km
- OFFICIAL NAME: Islamic Republic of Mauritania
- LANGUAGE: Hassaniya Arabic (official), Wolof (official), French
PEOPLE & CULTURE
The Northwest African country of Mauritania has a unique culture. The cultures of its various indigenous groups blend seamlessly and also reflects influences of various foreign cultures. The French and Moorish cultures helped to shape the art of storytelling in this country, a reminder of the country’s colonial past.
While written literature in Mauritania is limited, the country has a rich repertoire of oral literature including epics, riddles, folk tales and legends, Islamic poetry and prose. Storytelling is an age-old Mauritanian tradition. The artists and craftsmen of the country are experts at many art and craft forms. Different ethnic groups are associated with distinct artistic traditions whose skills are passed down from generation to generation.
Mauritania’s culture is a mixture of many influences, both indigenous and external from the ancient Berber people, the Moors and the French, especially visible in both music and cuisine. Mauritanian music is a tradition carried down by the Moors when musicians formed the lowest rung of society and performed for anyone who paid them. Today, the industry is more refined, but the use of Moor instruments such as the four-stringed lute and the kettle drum remain firmly intact.
Mauritania is an Islamic Republic. Don’t be afraid of this political status – most Mauritanians are not extremists, even if the majority of the people in the North are very conservative and quite reserved. The Southern part of the country is filled with friendly people, and they are very welcoming.
GEOGRAPHY & NATURE
Mauritania, a country in the western region of the continent of Africa, is generally flat, its 1,030,700 square kilometers forming vast, arid plains broken by occasional ridges and cliff like outcroppings. Mauritania is the world’s largest country lying entirely below an altitude of 1,000 metres (3,300 ft).
Approximately three-fourths of Mauritania is desert or semi desert. As a result of extended, severe drought, the desert has been expanding since the mid-1960s. The plateaus gradually descend toward the northeast to the barren El Djouf, or “Empty Quarter,” a vast region of large sand dunes that merges into the Sahara Desert. To the west, between the ocean and the plateaus, are alternating areas of clayey plains (regs) and sand dunes (ergs), some of which shift from place to place, gradually moved by high winds. The dunes generally increase in size and mobility toward the north.
Belts of natural vegetation, corresponding to the rainfall pattern, extend from east to west and range from traces of tropical forest along the Sénégal River to brush and savanna in the southeast. Only sandy desert is found in the centre and north of the country.
Why Volunteer in Mauritania?
Despite an abundance of natural resources, including iron ore and petroleum, Mauritania remains poor; its economy is based primarily on agriculture, livestock, and fishing. 31% of its 4 million people, or around 1.2 million people, living beneath the poverty line.
One promising solution that focuses on community development in order to break the poverty cycle is investing in Agriculture, education and healthcare in impoverished villages. Through Go Volunteer Africa’s volunteering Mauritania many village’s living conditions will improve as they learn and get involved in activities that prevent disease and malnutrition. One of the main objectives of the program is “to invest in the next generation and break the poverty cycle by tackling intergenerational poverty.”
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES IN MAURITANIA
Go Volunteer Africa will begin its operations in Mauritania in the year 2023! Mauritania has an abundance of minerals and natural resources. However, recurring natural disasters and economic, social and educational disparities plague the country with vulnerability. Despite this, the youthful population, alongside Go Volunteer Africa and its local development partner NGO, has the potential to develop and overcome poverty in Mauritania through interventions in the areas below.
Volunteering Mauritania – Environment and Health: Following an early 2018 drought in Mauritania, an estimated 350,000 people were left food-insecure for up to five months. Changing weather patterns and prolonged water scarcity cause the country’s periodic droughts, a challenge already sustained by many Mauritanians. Soil erosion and deforestation are spreading desertification, a major threat to the Senegal River. This river is one of the country’s only available freshwater resources. As a result, 42% of the population does not have access to improved water sources, and 60% do not have access to improved sanitation facilities.
Volunteering Mauritania – Education: The prospects associated with a large youth population could mean a great change in Mauritania. However, things will only change as long as the education frequency and quality increases, particularly for young girls. Only 55% of children aged 6-11 attend school due to geographic dispersion, forced displacement and gender inequities. Females, with a literacy rate 20% lower than males, do not receive enough representation in the classroom. This disparity negatively affects the economy because educated girls lead to innovative entrepreneurship and economic growth.
Volunteering Mauritania – Food Insecurity and Sanitation: To improve community food security, Go Volunteer Africa will work alongside local leaders to support families recovering from natural disasters, providing seeds and tools to struggling farmers, teach land preservation techniques and offers livestock and veterinary services.
To ensure improved sanitation facilities and defend against water contamination, the organization will drill and decontaminate wells, distributes hygiene kits and builds hand-washing stations. We shall also encourage and train community-based water committees for long-term water management.
Go Volunteer Africa will combat Mauritania’s imperfections through implementing sustainable solutions and creating community prosperity through volunteering Mauritania program. Our official operations in Mauritania will begin in 2023, and the initial Mauritania vision is to manage malnutrition in order to mend healthcare and education limitations.
PROJECT LOCATION & SAFETY
Many people think Mauritania is dangerous to visit and the reason is that it is part of the Sahel, a massive geographical region that stretches from west to east Africa, from Mauritania to Eritrea and many countries in between. The Sahel is huge as big as Europe and in Mauritania, the only region which is really unsafe is some sections of the border with Mali, which are too remote to visit anyways, hundreds and hundreds of kilometers away from safe tourist areas and where projects are run, and separated by a huge desert with practically no roads. The rest of Mauritania is a safe area somehow unattached to that conflict.
ARRIVAL & AIRPORT PICKUP
After you have applied, booked and confirmed your placement, please book your flights to arrive at Nouakchott–Oumtounsy International Airport. This is the main international airport in Mauritania. A member of staff from our local partner organization will meet you on arrival at Airport.
Orientation and Placement will be done the next day. Generally, your volunteer orientation is an overview of the project’s mission, expectations and introduction to the local community and project site. Following your arrival in Mauritania you will be given a presentation by the co-coordinating project team to prepare you for the work you will be doing.
Mauritania visa policy allows all foreign nationals to obtain a visa on arrival at Nouakchott–Oumtounsy International Airport. It allows Single entry is valid for a stay period of 30 days
WEEKENDS AND FREE-TIME
Over the weekends or evenings, participants are free to eat out and explore the different delights that Mauritania has to offer. Mauritania is a country whose main attractions are its desert and its ocean. This is why it’s no wonder that tourists mostly come here to visit the desert in Adrar and the Tagant areas (areas around Atar), and the ocean in Banc d’Arguin: this is an incredible sight of a natural reserve with dunes ending in the sea, with millions of birds that will take your breath away.
If you’re interested in seeing the stunning desert scenery, Mauritania is the place for you. The Adrar is exactly how you’ve always imagined the Sahara as: endless ergs (dunes) and regs (rocky desert) with tabular small mountains. You can hike across rocky terrain and through narrow canyons and run into surprising oases which served as some kind of refuge to traders crossing the Sahara for centuries.
HOW TO APPLY
If you are planning to start the program in less than 3 months from now (start within 12 weeks from date of application), Fill Volunteer application form. If you are planning to start program more than 3 months from now (start within 13 weeks and above – up to 24 months) or if you are not very certain of the exact start dates- just reserve your placement by filling volunteer reservation form. or Simply Make an inquiry here