Asambleas Ciudadanos


the Sahel Saharan Citizens' Assembly



Report of the first caravane in Mauritania

Translations : français . Español . English

Islamic Republic of Mauritania

Honor – Fraternity – Justice

Nouakchott, the capital of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, was founded in 1957. Over one million inhabitants are deemed to live there. The city has gone through weather catastrophes and social commotions (a drought that ended up in a great rural exodus) which caused demographic pressure. Nouakchott is the most important urban center in the country; it is made up by a third of the population and more than 50% of the urban population.

UNESCO inscribed four ancient cities in this country (Chinguitti, Oualata, Ouadane and Tichitt) on the World Heritage List. These have witnessed unsuspected history, which is confirmed by a great variety of pre-historical sites containing cave paintings and archeological remains which are still unexplained.

The Banc d’Arguin National Park takes up 180 km of the coastline and preserves inside an impressive ecosystem which has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

  • Area : 1.030.700 km²
  • Capital : Nouakchott
  • Population : 3.075.267 inhabitants
  • Literacy rate: 60,4%
  • Currency : OUGUIYAS
  • Official Language: Arabic
  • Other National Languages : Pulaar, Soninké, Wolof
  • Work Languages : Arabic and French

The Banc d’Arguin National Park possesses large colonies of aquatic birds, many of which are endangered species.


Tour of the caravan during the first stage

The group of referents is made up by Mamadou Niang, Moulkheiry Mint Sid El Moustapha and Mint Tolba Mint Sedoum. The caravan set out on 16 February, 2009 towards Aioun El Atrouss, located 850 km away from Nouakchott, which established the first stage. The following stages were: Kiffa (Assaba) 600 Km away from Nouakchott, Aleg (Brakna) 300 km away from Nouakchott, Kaédi (Gorgol) 400 km away from Nouakchott. The stage lasted a fortnight. The aim of the caravan was to take the initiative for a Citizens’ Assembly to the people from the places visited by means of Community Assemblies. This consisted of explaining the antecedents of the Assemblies, their orientations and expected results, explaining people’s viewpoints on their local existence conditions and, with these, defining the priorities that will be useful to define the strategy which will be shared with the other components of the 2010 Assembly to be celebrated in Aioun El Atrouss and which will gather participants from the north of Senegal, the north of Mali and Mauritania. These meetings will enable the identification of local actors.

Stage: Municipality of Aioun

The camel is the most appropriate means of transport to cross the desert

Generalities / Administration

  • Area: 53.400 km²
  • Regional Capital: Aïoun El Atrouss
  • Population: 249 768 inhabitants
  • Male: 118 371
  • Female: 131 397
  • Number of Moughataas (departments or provinces): 4 (Koubeni, Tamchekett, Tintane, Aïoun)
  • Number of Municipalities: 27
  • Average home size: 5,8

Wilaya du Hodh El Gharbi

Aioun El Atrouss is the regional capital of Hodh El Gharbi, which has an area of 53.400 km². Hodh El Gharbi borders in the north with Tagant, in the west with Assaba, in the south with Mali and in the east with Hodh El Chargui. It is crossed from east to west by the «Road of Hope» and it is connected with Nioro del Sahel in Mali by an asphalted road. The birth of a picturesque relief and a mountain range which offers an undulating landscape which alternates valleys and green oasis can be observed in Aioun.

In 2007, the population was estimated at 249768 inhabitants, of which 118371 are men and 131339 are women. The majority of the population belongs to the Moorish Community. The Society of Hodh El Gharbi forms a mosaic of social groups closely attached to tribal belonging and to Pastoralist practices: migrating, nomad, but also sedentary people.

Moughataa (department or province) of Aioun has an area of 18 960 km² and is made up by seven (7) municipalities among which is the municipality of Aioun El Atrouss (11.867 inhabitants). The mayor of the municipality of Aioun, Saadna Ould Sidi, favorably received the information of the celebration of the Assembly and promised to work for the success of the 2010 Assembly. Several Assemblies in different neighborhoods have summoned all citizen categories (women, youth, country men, cattle raisers, religious chiefs, teachers, students, shopkeepers, craftsmen, artists).

The main problems put forward are connected with the following claims: access to wells for agriculture and cattle raising, energy to develop local industries, socio-economic projects to keep inhabitants in their territory, schools and teaching Mahadras, cooperatives for women, shepherding areas for cattle, road infrastructure to stop isolation, employment for young people, accessible means of transport, public health problems, professional training, flood water reservoirs. Cattle raising, which constitutes the main economic activity of the population, represents 80% of the economy. The vilayet of Hodh El Gharbi is one of the most relegated vilayets. The abundant rains have allowed for the development of a potential fodder in the region, which constitutes a regular withdrawal area for many parishioners from neighboring vilayets and from Mali.

Human Resources

Surname and name Profession
1 Alassane Sané English teacher
2 Sow Mohamedou French teacher
3 Abderrahmane Djibril Teacher of English and French
4 Baba Ahmed O/ Isselmou
5 Leman O/ Lahmeid
6 Dah O/ Vally
7 Sidi Med O/ Hamoud
8 Ne O/ Sid’Ahmed Vall Imam Mosquée Commune Techinatt, locale Iguenibak
9 Cheikhnena O/ Lemana
10 Med Lemine O/ Sid’Ahmed
11 Zeinabou M/ Minnih
12 Sektou M/ Sidi Mohamed

Stage: Municipality of KIFFA

Generalities / Administration

  • Area: 36.600 km²
  • Regional Capital: Kiffa
  • Population: 284629 inhabitants
  • Male: 133826
  • Female: 150803
  • Number of Moughataas: 5 (Guérou, Kankoussa, Barkéol, Boumdeid, Kiffa)
  • Number of municipalities: 26
  • Average home size: 5,7 The vilayet of Assaba has an area of 36 600 km². It borders in the north with Tagant and Brakna, in the south with Guidimakha and Mali, in the southwest with Gorgol and in the east with Hodh El Chargui.

The Vilayet of Assaba

The population was estimated at 284.629 inhabitants in 2007. Kiffa is the regional capital. It is made up by six municipalities, one of which - the municipality of Kiffa – has a population of 32716 inhabitants. The Citizens’ Assemblies which were organized in several neighborhoods in Kiffa and which gather different citizen categories (women, young people, teachers, farmers, cattle raisers, shopkeepers) have allowed the participants to pose several problems and to discuss them. The population of Kiffa lives in extreme poverty and lacks drinking water. There are also environmental and public health problems, problems connected with access to new information techniques and Citizenship and Democracy problems. Young people face an absence of cultural and recreational animation. One recurrent issue during the debates was the role of young people in Citizens’ Assemblies. The bankruptcy of the educational system and the absence of job prospects push young people to demand the Education General States. The absence of electricity and administrative structure in several neighborhoods of the city and the high rate of pollution constitute some of the main worries that these populations have. The people found there expressed a desire to develop an citizens’ agreement framework.

Human Resources / KIFFA

Surname and name Profession
1 Med Mahmoud Sidaty History and Geography teacher
2 Bahi O/ Sleymane Secondary school teacher
3 Adama Yaya Diop Secondary school teacher
4 Sow Cheikh Med Vadel Teacher
5 Seyid Samba N’Diaye Teacher
6 El Mechri O/ Med Lemine Teacher
7 Sabah O/ Cheikh Mahfoud Student
8 Med Mahmoud O/ Med Student
9 Med Abdellahi Student
10 Cheikh O Ahmed Salem
11 Abderahmane O/ Moustaphe Teacher
12 Baguily Mohamed O/ Teacher
13 Abdel Baghy N’Diaye
14 Ahmed Tahar O/ Abdellahi English teacher
15 Youssouf Thiery Sylla Forestry Engineer
16 Thiam Mamadou Alassane Regional youth delegate

Stage: Municipality of ALEG

Generalities / Administration

  • Area: 33.000 km²
  • Regional Capital: Aleg
  • Population: 282168 inhabitants
  • Male: 131463
  • Female: 150705
  • Number of Moughataas: 5 (Bababé, Boghé, Magta-Lahjar, M’Bagne, Aleg)
  • Number of municipalities: 21
  • Average home size (2000): 6,7

The vilayet of Brakna is located in the southernmost area of Mauritania. It covers an area of 33000 km² and borders in the east with Assaba, in the southeast with Gorgol, in the south with the Senegal river, in the west and the north with TRARZA and in the northeast with Tagant. The weather in Brakna is Sahel in the southeast and sub-Saharan in the north and west.

Apart from the Senegal river, the Region has several lakes, ponds and temporary uadis which play a socio-economic role in the towns: Lake Maal, Lake Aleg, Pond Cheggar, Pond Gadel and Uadi Ketchi. The topography is quite flat but large expanses of fixed sand dunes and prairie vegetation can also be found. The population was estimated at 282.168 inhabitants in 2007. The Capital of the Brakna and Moughataa regions is Aleg. Aleg is a municipality inhabited by twelve thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight people (12.898).

The Vilayet of Brakna

The city of Aleg is facing a shortage of water. The sedentarization of ancient nomads running away from droughts occurred together with urban development, and caused a lack of water distribution and storage equipment as well. In Aleg several rooms are built on spillage axes and in flood zones. Mauritanian tents and brick houses coexist in this city. There is also no urban transport. The participants in the Citizens’ Assemblies, which gathered mainly women, young people, teachers, cattle raisers, farmers and shopkeepers, insistently pointed out some marked deficiencies in school structures and female school drop-out rates. Electricity coverage is still insufficient and the rural sector does not have access to agricultural loans. Agricultural financing is unsatisfactory. Territorial disputes and shepherding problems are quite common. Divorce rates are very high and women still bear the main responsibilities in marriages. Unemployment is chronic and affects all social strata.

Human Resources / ALEG

Surname and name Profession
1 Oum Khoursoum Mint Haïbetty

Stage: Municipality of KAEDI

Generalities / Administration

  • Area: 13.600 km²
  • Regional Capital: Kaédi
  • Population: 281 503 inhabitants
  • Male: 134 258
  • Female: 147 247
  • Number of Moughataas: 4 (M’Bout, Maghama, Mounguel, Kaédi)
  • Number of municipalities: 29
  • Average home size (2000): 7,0

The vilayet of Gorgol is located in the southernmost area of Mauritania. It covers an area of 13600 km², and borders in the north and northeast with Assaba, in the south and southeast with Guidimaka, in the northwest with Brakna and in the southwest with the Senegal river.

The Vilayet of Gorgol

The relief is dominated by a network of valleys and by the presence of a system of hills and plateaus. The hydrographic network is made up by the Senegal river and its tributaries: The White Gorgol, the Black Gorgol and the uadi Ghorfa. In 2007, the vilayet had a population of 281.503 inhabitants. Kaédi, the capital of the Gorgol region and of Moughataa, is the most important municipality of the vilayet of Gorgol. Inhabited by thirty-four thousand two hundred and twenty seven people (34.227), it is the seat of several delegations of the main State utilities. Kaédi is divided in three zones: old quarters (Touldé, Gourel Sanghé and Tantaaji), new quarters (Modernes and Jedida) and the periphery (Khilinkaare, Tinzah, Sinthiane and Kebbe). The vilayet has insufficient road infrastructure: it only has one asphalted axis which links Kaédi with Boghé; the rest of the road network is made up by trails, the majority of which are impassable during rainy season. The population is extremely poor. The majority are living under the extreme poverty line.

Agriculture is the main activity of the population (78,6% of the homes) but they cannot support themselves with it. The agricultural facilities are rudimentary and do not allow the population to obtain any profitable yielding. The Kaédi population lacks organization and education. There are no policies to support the country’s cooperatives’ development. The unemployment rate for young people is the highest in the country (13%) and the literacy rate is one of the lowest (36%). Young people face education, prospects and career opportunity problems. Electric coverage is not well distributed. Kaédi is marked by a marked worsening of malaria, which results in insufficient personnel, infrastructure and sanitary equipment. The city shows problems in waste management, the consequence of which is felt by the population.

Kaédi has a National Agricultural Research Center, a National Agricultural Popularization School and several agricultural projects. The Senegal river and its tributaries offer many opportunities for agricultural, cattle raising and commerce development.

Human Resources / KAEDI

Surname and name Profession
1 Yacine Koné Midwife / Hospital







Pictures of the first citizens' caravan in Mauritania

Selection of images of the 1st caravan organized towards Aioun in Mauritania in February 2009