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Camel Herders in Mauritania to Receive Support from New US Government Programs

The United States African Development Foundation (USADF) has announced the launch of two special programs for Mauritania. The foundation will provide funding for two economic development projects valued at $500,000.

The president of the organization, Lloyd Pierson, told VOA English to Africa reporter Douglas Mpuga that the grants will help 1,100 camel herders in the Rosso and Boghé regions of Mauritania enhance their food security and earn more money through increased milk production.

"This is a very important grant to Mauritania. We are working with former slaves in the southern part of the country, in particular camel herders, and our grants will help them increase their milk production from the camels that they can sell to processing plants in the capital," he said. And he said the ripple effect will benefit not only the camel herders but also others, such as the milk processors.

Pierson said some of the funds will be used to provide technical assistance to the camel herders so they can improve their ability to manage their finances. "We are looking at helping the camel herders make their activities profitable. Also…ensuring they have good governance, good financial management and good management of their operations."

Pierson said the African Development Foundation focuses on identifying marginalized groups in Africa -- underprivileged, underserved groups -- and working with them on a community level. He said in Mauritania, the foundation hopes to help the former slaves not only increase their income, but also gain access to social benefits, such as health and education.

Pierson added that the project will also address environmental issues because part of the (funding) agreement focuses on how to protect the land that the camels feed on.

The African Development Foundation is a U.S. government agency dedicated to expanding access to economic opportunity in Africa. Currently it operates in 18 African countries. Over the past 25 years, the foundation has funded nearly 1,200 projects representing more than $150 million in support of African enterprises and local African communities.