From the Worldwide Faith News archives

LWI FEATURE: Mauritania - Weaving Carpets in the Desert

From "Frank Imhoff" <>
Date Wed, 19 Dec 2001 07:39:04 -0600

Women Cooperatives Enhance Sustainable Development

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania/GENEVA, 19 December 2001 (LWI) - "Before the
LWF helped the women of my village establish our cooperative, I felt
like my hands were tied. I could do nothing to help feed my children,
clothe them or educate them," recalls Meimouna Mint Mohamed, a member
of the Marieme Women's Cooperative in El Agba, Mauritania.

Beyond the women's cooperative shop spreads the Sahara, a desert that
is advancing annually. Through the Lutheran World Federation (LWF)
supported Environmental Protection and Village Reforestation Project
(PERV), a greenbelt of tropical trees stops the dunes from burying
the village, but the villagers know that their houses, wells and
gardens would have been swallowed up without this intervention.
Ninety percent of Mauritania is desert.

Through the 200-member cooperative, women like Meimouna are weaving
carpets for sale and participating in other income-generating
activities financed by revolving fund credits administered by the LWF
Department for World Service (DWS) Mauritania program. These
activities guarantee a sustainable development for their families and

Last October the LWF General Secretary Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko, handed
over a USD 80,00
cheque to Rahma Mint Ahmedou, PERV project coordinator, toward an
initiative to promote girls' education, create HIV/AIDS awareness
through theater, and assist cooperatives like Meimouna's group. The
contribution comes from a CHF 2.4 million (USD 1.5 million) gift to
the LWF in 1999, designated by an anonymous giver to education and
women and youth training in Africa.

Meimouna was happy to learn about this additional support to the
group's work, and hopes the women can expand their carpet weaving

LWF/DWS began working in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania in 1974,
initially focussing on emergency and relief efforts. Today the
program's work has evolved to include rehabilitation and development.
DWS Mauritania collaborates with the government, international
organizations and a variety of local and international
non-governmental organizations.

In 2000, LWF/DWS Mauritania was nominated for the Global 500
Environmental Award of the United Nations Environment Program, in
recognition of the program's achievements in the 25-year-old
Nouakchott greenbelt, ongoing dune stabilization, and village
reforestation projects.

(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran
tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now has 133
member churches in 73 countries representing over 60.5 million of the
64.3 million Lutherans worldwide. The LWF acts on behalf of its
member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical
relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights,
communication, and the various aspects of mission and development
work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.)

[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the information service of the
Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Unless specifically noted, material
presented does not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of
its various units. Where the dateline of an article contains the
notation (LWI), the material may be freely reproduced with

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PO Box 2100, CH-1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland
Editor's e-mail:
Tel: (41.22) 791.63.54
Fax: (41.22) 791.66.30

Frank Imhoff
Associate Director, News & Media Services
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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