Queen Letizia's seventh cooperation trip to the Islamic Republic of Mauritania came to an end on Thursday 2 June, after a visit to the gardens of the "Queen Letizia Agricultural Innovation Project", near the capital, and to the initiative of the Mauritanian Ministry of Health which, in collaboration with the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), is working to create the country's first emergency centre.
On the morning of Doña Letizia's second and final day in Mauritania, just minutes before the Queen's arrival at the Queen Letizia Agricultural Innovation Centre, one of the worst sandstorms to hit the Nouakchott region in recent months broke out. This incident did not prevent her from walking around the plots of land and greenhouses provided to hundreds of Mauritanian families to ensure their food security, but it did force her to cut short her visit to the project.
After being received by Savia Mint N'Tahah, Minister for Social Action, Children and the Family, and listening to brief words from the President of the Nouakchott region, Fatimentou Mint Abdel Malick, the Queen unveiled a plaque commemorating her visit to the project.
"The aim of this initiative is to have food self-sufficiency in vegetables and fruit. It is a difficult project because of the weather conditions, but there is water," Fatimentou Boukhreiss, coordinator of the climate change programme in Nouakchott, told the media.
The Queen Letizia Agricultural Innovation Project, located less than 20 kilometres from Nouakchott in an important Mauritanian desert region, is financed with more than two million euros by the European Union, although on the ground it has been carried out by Spanish cooperation.
Afterwards, Queen Letizia was introduced to the "Emergency Medical Care Service" (SAMU) initiative, a project of the Ministry of Health that would give rise to the first Mauritanian emergency centre, which would be responsible for improving pre-hospital care, increasing the number of ambulances and training new doctors and nurses. The Spanish contribution to this project - in which the Spanish Society of Emergency Medicine is also participating - amounts to more than 150,000 euros, and covers the training of the 300 professionals who will make up the staff.
To date, the SAMU already has a functional structure and a call centre that is still in a trial state, but the first fleet of basic assistance ambulances has already been set up, pending the addition of new medicalised ambulances. The Ministry of Health now expects the service to be operational from October, both in the capital Nouakchott and on the outskirts of the city.
The idea is that, within three years, nearly two million Mauritanians will benefit from a health service with ambulance bases in the country's main towns. This is almost 50% of the country's total population.
Accompanied at all times by the Minister of Social Action, Savia Mint N'Tahah, as well as by Fatimentou Mint Abdel Malick, President of the Nouakchott region, and Pilar Cancela, Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Queen Letizia also visited one of the ambulances already in operation and listened to the project's main lines of action.
Finally, and after visiting the Zayed Centre - where she attended the screening of a video and the exhibition of work done by children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) together with the First Lady of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, Mariem Mohamed Fadel Dah -, the Queen was invited to a formal farewell lunch organised by the First Lady.
This marked the end of Doña Letizia's trip to Mauritania, a country where Spanish cooperation in the areas of health, security, food, governance and the battle against gender violence dates back more than three decades. Between 2014 and 2020 alone, Spain has allocated more than 50 million euros in aid to the country. In recent years, the Islamic Republic of the Maghreb has made efforts to achieve greater economic progress and implement new social action programmes for the least favoured sectors.
Moreover, Nouakchott's important role in the fight against growing Jihadist terrorism and in controlling migratory waves in the region only reinforces the idea that Mauritania's stability is reflected in the stability of the whole of North Africa. And this, in the stability of Spain and Europe.