The United States Embassy reported that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a new project to combat violent extremism in Mauritania. The project, dubbed as “Tamkeen” which means empowerment in Arabic, will be implemented over five years (2021-2026) with a budget of $7 million and will target youth and women at risk of being recruited and targeted by violent extremist groups in Mauritania, specifically in eight regions: Adrar, Hodh el Chargui, Hodh el Gharbi, Guidimakha, Assaba, Trarza, Tiris Zemour, and the capital, Nouakchott.


Tamkeen will be implemented by USAID’s partner, FHI 360, and under the guidance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania. Tamkeen will encourage social and civic change by placing young Mauritanians at the forefront of promoting pro-social alternatives to violent extremism by pursuing three objectives: 1) to build networks of youth and community groups; 2) to create safe spaces for youth to interact and learn leadership skills; and 3) to combat the isolating effects and vulnerability to risk created by disinformation which was particularly heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic and can make young people more vulnerable to violent extremism.


The Tamkeen project aims to make a positive impact on Mauritanian youth by giving them leadership and life skills to support themselves independently. Tamkeen will boost young Mauritanian’s self-confidence and encourage them to get involved in decision-making processes in communities, with local government, and in their homes. Among its various targets, Tamkeen will work with 100 youth leaders in eight regions to create 13 youth community centers, reaching thousands of youth throughout Mauritania.


Lisa Washington-Sow, Country Program Manager for USAID Mauritania, states: “We hope that USAID’s Tamkeen project will have positive impacts on the youth of Mauritania by using approaches to build social cohesion through youth leaders, while working with government as well as local and international organizations that are supporting Mauritanian civil society.”