Mauritania is a poor, Sahelian country with few natural resources and has been plagued by widespread poverty for a long time. In the 1990s, however, the government launched its poverty alleviation strategy, which has had international backup.

    However, the poverty situation remains worrisome. Nearly half of the population is living on less than one US dollar per day, and access to clean water and to health and education services remains inadequate, and the quality of these services is well below acceptable standards.