Mauritania | National Urban Development Strategy

World Bank, 2000 to 2001

Mauritania has experienced extremely rapid urbanization since independence, primarily as the result of desertification. The country went from 4% urbanized in 1962 to 62% urbanized in 1997. This rapid urban growth occurred primarily in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou, which lacked the capacity to absorb large numbers of new residents. Today, approximately one-quarter to one-third of Mauritanians live in the capital Nouakchott where more than 75% of the population lives in slums.

CUDS professionals provided assistance in formulating a national urban development strategy and policy action plan for Mauritania. Our team included Mauritanian urban and legal experts and worked closely with Mauritanian central and local officials on an economic development strategy for the country’s three largest cities (Nouakchott, Nouadhibou, and Kaédi) and an update to the legislative framework for land tenure and real estate development. The team interacted with Ministers and senior government officials and with Governors of Nouakchott and Nouadhibou and the Mayor of Nouakchott. Strategies related to implementation focused on regularizing and upgrading informal settlements. The findings and recommendations of the work were discussed during a two-day seminar held in Nouakchott and attended by 110 participants from central and local agencies, elected councils, non-governmental organizations, professional associations and interested citizen groups. An executive education course was provided to central, regional, and local officials. Implementation was disrupted by civil unrest on several occasions but, nevertheless, some progress has been achieved.

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