Adrar is one of the poorest regions in Mauritania, with 57% of people living below the poverty line, 15% more than the national average. Studies conducted in 2013 by the NGO Ecodev revealed institutional and organisational weaknesses of Mauritanian civil society organisations (CSOs), which create an obstacle to their effective participation in the socio-economic development of the region. Over a one and a half year period between 2014 and 2016, GRET, together with its Mauritanian partner Réseau pour la citoyenneté (Network for citizenship), implemented a project supporting civil society in Adrar (Asca Adrar) to support strengthening, structuring and training of civil society organisations.
55 civil society organisations in eight municipalities in Adrar benefitted from this support. The organisations, which are mainly run by women, are mostly agricultural and trading cooperatives. 160 people were trained in various areas such as the associative sector, administrative and financial management, advocacy techniques, etc. This training was designed by GRET and delivered by GRET’s partner, RPC. In order to facilitate dialogue between public authorities and civil society, as well as better synergy of actions, a civil society centre was created in the form of a resource and inter-CSO consultation centre. Community consultations are organised on a quarterly basis between the public authorities and the CSOs in order to promote participative democracy via constructive dialogue between the various stakeholders. 20 structuring micro projects were funded in various sectors: setting up of units to process Balanites seeds into feed for livestock, or to enhance date palm by-products. These micro projects are generally led by women’s cooperatives.
Although the project made it possible to generate promising results, additional means and time would be necessary to rise to the challenges of consolidating the participative dynamic undertaken and making the civil society centre a sustainable tool to strengthen and support CSOs in the region over the long term.