On 27, 28 and 29 February, the Sub-regional Forum of the Social Solidarity Economy was held in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, in the framework of the project: “Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) among cooperatives in 4 regions of Mauritania with a gender approach”. This project, financed by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and organised by the NGO Actions, aims to bring together and create a dialogue on the subject of the Mauritanian Social Solidarity Economy.

The event was attended by institutional decision-makers, non-state actors, cooperatives and MicroFinance Institutions (MFIs) to share experiences gained through national and sub-regional efforts; and focusing on the experience of cooperatives working for social justice and equity, with a view to a more sustainable and inclusive socio-economic recovery in West Africa, the Maghreb and the Mediterranean region.

Three West African countries (Benin, Ivory Coast and Senegal, all members of the African Network of Social Solidarity Economy – RAESS), 2 North African countries (Algeria and Morocco, also members of RAESS) and one European country (Spain, where REAS is also part of RIPESS Europe). Mali represented RAESS as an African resource organisation.

During the three days of the forum, several panels, workshops and plenary sessions were held on various SSE topics.

In Mauritania, the Social and Solidarity Economy has always played an important role in mobilising resources according to the fundamental principles of solidarity, mutual aid and collective work. These principles constitute the ancestral cultural, even religious, basis of the organisation of the economic processes of production and distribution, in an interdependence that safeguards the rights of individuals from the different social segmentations linked to gender, generation, community membership or other factors. However, it is one of the least developed sub-sectors in Development Cooperation and Policies. Only recently has the SSE begun to attract the attention of the Government and several development partners, such as AECID, ILO, the European Union, etc., in order to offer new opportunities for economic development and employment, in particular those that can promote women’s empowerment, a real lever for local development.

The reduction of poverty, the fight against precariousness and the reduction of social and geographical disparities are problems that can find appropriate solutions in an approach based on the Social Solidarity Economy, whose main organisational forms are cooperatives, associations and other mutual societies.

As a conclusion to the workshops and plenary sessions, a roadmap was drawn up:

Participants decided to make proposals to help Mauritania in general and Action Mauritania in particular to achieve the objectives set following the forum. Following the discussions, several proposals were adopted:

  1. Identify all the actors involved in the Social Solidarity Economy.
  2. Create the Mauritanian National Network of Social Solidarity Economy.
  3. To link the Mauritanian national network to the African Social Solidarity Economy Network.
  4. To call on the President of the Republic of Mauritania, the current Chairperson of the African Union, to draw the attention of his African counterparts to the SSE so that the SSE is taken into account in state and non-governmental projects and programmes.
  5. Encourage countries that do not yet have a law on SSE to multiply their efforts to have one.