Mobile Warehouses Go Up in Mauritania
On June 3rd, a UPS Humanitarian Flight landed at Nouakchott International Airport carrying 9 mobile storage tents (wiikhalls) for WFP.
The UPS airlift intervention arrived at a critical time before the start of the rainy season in Mauritania that can last from June to September. WFP Mauritania has been urgently trying to increase its storage capacity around the M'bera refugee camp in the extreme southeast of the country in order to preposition commodities before the rains start, which will significantly hamper access to the area.
The wiikhalls were immediately unloaded from the UPS plane and subsequently packed on WFP trucks for urgent delivery to Bassikounou.
The trip between Nouakchott and Bassikounou is over 725 miles and normally takes WFP trucks 5 days.
The trip to deliver the wiikhalls to Bassikounou took the standard time of 5 days. However, during the rainy season the roads become impassable and the same distance can take up to a month.
For this reason, WFP has been racing to preposition necessary food commodities before the start of the rains. WFP increased its transportation capacity by augmenting the WFP fleet and entering into agreements with private contractors to permit the possible transportation of 1,000 mt per day. But the other difficulty was where to store the 7,000 mt of food required to cover the needs of refugees during the rainy season when access by road is near impossible.
Wiikhall mobile storage tents were seen as the ideal solution to meet the storage needs of the area given its isolation and lack of infrastructure. The UPS airlift of 9 wiikhalls further expedited their delivery to Bassikounou, with the WFP team on the ground in charge of their set up.
An experienced team of 10 people can set up a wiikhall in just one day.
When WFP first started intervening in Bassikounou to provide assistance to the refugee population hosted in M'bera camp, there was almost no capacity or infrastructure already established -- nowhere to stay, no office area, and most importantly, no storage areas for WFP commodities. WFP has thus been racing to develop the infrastructure necessary for humanitarian assistance in an area where the extreme climate, poor road infrastructure and isolation hinders access.
The M'bera refugee camp is located in one of the most remote areas of Mauritania, in a region with high security risks and traditionally low levels of humanitarian activity. The lack of capacity has been compounded by the camp's location in Hodh El Chargui, one of the most vulnerable regions of the country where 37% of the local population has already been suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition.
In this context, the M'bera refugee camp has become the largest of the Sahel, hosting almost 90,000 refugees as of 10 July 2012 with an average of between 600 and 800 additional refugees arriving each day.
In order to meet the needs of the growing number of refugees during the rainy season, WFP estimated the need to preposition 7,000 mt of food commodities in Bassikounou. Commodities are used for general food distributions as well as the prevention and treatment of moderate acute malnutrition among refugees.
The 9 wiikhalls delivered by UPS are allowing WFP to store more than 5,400 mt of food commodities.
Combined with the 5 storage tents already in place, the total storage capacity available for the refugee operation is now of 9,800 mt.
Storage is used for food commodities distributed through WFP's refugee response, which include rice, pulses, oil, sugar, salt and "super cereal" (a blend of fortified corn and soya). In addition, as Head of the Logistics Cluster, WFP is offering storage assistance to other UN agencies and international NGOs operating in M'bera camp.
On June 3rd, a UPS Humanitarian Flight landed in Nouakchott, Mauritania carrying 9 mobile storage tents (wiikhalls) for WFP to meet urgent storage needs in Bassikounou for the M'bera refugee camp. The wiikhalls were immediately sent to Bassikounou by truck and set up, allowing WFP to store more than 5,400 mt of food commodities before the start of the rainy season that makes this route impassable.