An introduction to Mauritania

Read more about SPANA's work in Mauritania

SPANA Mauritania executive secretary Mr Bebaha AhmedMr Bebaha Ahmed is the Executive Secretary for SPANA in Mauritania. He holds a Masters in Economics from the University of Nouakchott. Mr Ahmed has been working for SPANA for 12 years. He is passionate about both animal welfare and environmental causes. He really appreciates SPANA’s work in his country.

What is it like working for SPANA in Mauritania?
Working for SPANA is exciting and extremely fulfilling.
SPANA is one of the few Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) working in Mauritania offering veterinary treatment to working animals. The veterinary centre is based in Nouakchott and offers veterinary treatment to hard working animals that work hard in very hot conditions. The centre is also used for animal welfare lessons that are taught to students who regularly attend in partnership between SPANA and the Ministry of Education.

What is the best thing about your job?
For me it is seeing a working animal who after narrowly escaping death is standing strong on all four legs following life saving treatment from SPANA, or finding a donkey owner who is now convinced that it is cruel to ill-treat his animal or to look in to the eyes of school children after a SPANA educational visit, and see their commitment to animal welfare and environmental causes. It gives me a sense of priceless satisfaction. This is my way of helping to build a better world, more just and less violent.

What has been a memorable experience whilst working for SPANA?
One day, after leaving my office to go to a meeting, I caught the end of a conversation between two students who were part of a school that attended our primary education center. One student said to his friend "I used to dream of becoming a pilot, now I want to make a difference and become a veterinarian and work with SPANA.”It was at that moment that I understood that our actions are going to positively influence the next generation and significantly improve their relationship with animals. All day I could not contain my joy and above all my satisfaction that SPANA is making a difference.

What is your favourite thing about Mauritania?
Mauritania represents a link between the Arab world and sub-Saharan Africa. It is as such a cultural mix; there are many different ethnic groups and cultures that live here. Mauritania is also a vast desert country where the arid dunes of the Sahara stand alongside some of the richest fishing beaches in the world. As a country of such contrasts it makes an extraordinary visit for anyone who comes to discover it.

All about Mauritania

Boats on a beach in MauritaniaMauritania is a country in West Africa. It has a coastline so is not a landlocked country and shares borders with Mali, Senegal, Morocco and Algeria. It has a diverse natural landscape; along the Atlantic coast there is a large sandy desert, the Sahara, the central region is dotted with steep plateaus and along the southern border the Senegal River has carved a valley.

Mauritania has a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the towns of Chinguetti, Ouadane and other small towns. There were ancient trading centres and also centres for Islamic scholarship. The towns have remained the same for nearly 2000 years and many people visit them when in Mauritania.

The east of the country is mainly made up of cattle grazing areas, while the south is mainly agricultural land. Most of the country is in the Sahara Desert with some rocky mountainous areas. In the north is Mount Kedia of Idjil which has a peak of 915 meters. The coastline (which is over 600 kilometers long) has very long stretches of sand dunes. Despite this biological diversity and the rich natural resources, Mauritania remains one of the world's poorest countries. In Mauritania nearly a quarter of the population has to live each week on less than £6. This helps to explain the large presence of working animals in Mauritania that owners rely heavily on. They help to carry basics such as water and food. They are also used on the beaches where they carry the fish that have been caught back to the markets.


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