The solution of water scarcity in Mauritania: (Small scale off-grid renewable energy water desalination system) Sustainable Integrated Development Ecosystem

The problem of water scarcity is a major obstacle to development in Mauritania, as more than 42% of Mauritania’s population (2015) does not have potable water, in addition to more than 60% of Mauritanians who depend on agriculture and livestock

The majority of Mauritanians who suffer from water shortage live in rural and remote villages, where the population density in Mauritania is about 5 people per square kilometer, with an area of more than one million square kilometers. Connecting all these villages to the water network would be costly, and therefore the proposed solution was Digging wells and exploiting groundwater, however, the fresh groundwater is constantly decreasing, and most of the wells have become salty and unfit for drinking, which prompted the population to leave their villages and migrate towards the cities.

In this article, we will discuss an integrated and independent development model that depends entirely on local resources, and it is an ecosystem, the cornerstone of which is the desalination unit of groundwater by solar or wind energy, which will provide drinking water for humans, livestock and agriculture, and will also provide water High salinity concentration, suitable for fish farming and planting types of vegetables and fodder, this ecosystem will enable the creation of sustainable development and provide clean drinking water + agricultural and pastoral production, creating self-sufficiency for the inhabitants of these villages.

Mauritania has a high density of solar energy over the entire area of the country and also has strong wind energy, in addition to the presence of groundwater in abundance, which means that the basic elements are available, and the technology remains to exploit these resources as well. Great Leaps in Desalination Technology at Small Levels, Which Offers Efficient and Economical Solutions

Water sources in Mauritania

Water resources are related to the geographical and rainfall characteristics of the. Figure shows the four principal resources in Mauritania

Principal water resources are explained in Table Table Principal Water Resources in Mauritania

Colors on the Map

Characteristics for Resources

Yellow (Central Part)

Sandstone formation having a continuous or discontinuous water table with limited local reserve

Dark Blue (Four separated parts)

Sand formation water tables with adequate amount for their utilization.

Blue (Southeastern Part)

Sandstone formation water tables with adequate amount for its utilization

Light Gray (Around Senegal River)

Sand formation zone completely dependent on surface water

Water resources over the Sahara and Sehel areas are limited, and the total amount of rainfall in the Mauritania is small. There is a streamway in the Senegal River in the southeastern part of Mauritania. Data on the potential water reserve whose validity was proved scientifically, is not available, and the data on aquifer is both incomprehensive and limited. Therefore, it must be surveyed scientifically. The rain in areas with frequent rainfalls creates some water ponds with different lifetimes depending on the local conditions like the intensity or frequency of the rainfalls. Heavy rainfall areas 5 are located to the north of Adrar, but the areas with most precipitation are located in the south and the southeast between 15° and 18° in the latitude. From the viewpoint of water potential, these heavy rainfall areas are the principal water sources. According to the World Union for Nature Conservation (UICN), there are 250 to 320 places where it rains a lot in Mauritania. The principal surface water are listed in Table. All of them are located in the southern Mauritania. Table Principal Surface Waters in Mauritania

Water Precipitation in Mauritania


92 mm/year

Long-term average annual precipitation in depth (mm/year 2017)


94.8 billion m³/year

(Long-term average annual precipitation in volume (billion m³/year 2017)

Water Resources in Mauritania


11 billion m³/year

Total Renewable Water Resources (2017)


2,579 m³/person/year

Renewable Water per Inhabitant (2017)


96 %

Water from outside the country (2017)

Water Use in Mauritania Total, by Sector, and by Year Notes: Years with missing data left empty. Water use can include water used and then returned to its source (renewable resource).

People with no access to a safe drinking water source in Mauritania

1,703,493 Person

42.1 % of the population of Mauritania (2015) DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO SAFE DRINKING WATER

The impact of climate change on population and water in Mauritania​

Mauritania was one of the country’s most affected by climate change and global warming, as droughts swept the country in the 70s of the twentieth century the majority of the population works in the field of agriculture and pastoral development What, causing mass migrations from the countryside to major cities, especially Nouakchott, the capital, which was established at that time, which caused the horizontal expansion of the capital and the emergence of neighborhoods Randomness is what made the provision of infrastructure on this geographical scale, especially the water and sewage network

More than any other locale, Nouakchott illustrated the problems brought about by rapid and uncontrolled urbanization. Originally a small administrative center, it had about 30,000 inhabitants in 1959 and more than 40,000 by 1970. Because of the migrations from the countryside due to drought, it became The metro area population of Nouakchott in 2020 was 1,315,000, a 4.45% increase from 2019. The metro area population of Nouakchott in 2019 was 1,259,000, a 4.48% increase from 2018

Off-grid water solutions for rural development in Mauritania

An integrated ecosystem that relies on local resources, and produces drinking water, vegetables, fish, small ruminants and poultry, fertilizers and organic fuels.

Sustainable Integrated Development Ecosystem

How it works

1- The reverse osmosis desalination system will produces potable water, and it also produces rejected brine water.

Fresh Water Path

1.1- Fresh water: Availability of safe drinking water is the basis of life and development. It will contribute to reducing water shortages in remote villages.

1.1.2- Organic farming: The availability of fresh water will contribute to the development of agriculture in remote villages, providing food, creating products and self-sufficiency for the inhabitants of these villages. Production of organic vegetables and fruits.

1.1.3- The availability of water enhances pastoral production, especially sheep and goats, in addition to poultry, which will contribute to providing protein to the residents of remote villages and creating a sustainable source of income. Production of red and white meat, eggs, milk and its derivatives. Livestock produces animal waste that can produce fertilizers and biofuels. Biofuels and biogas will be one of the most important high-value products, which will increase the productivity and added value of the project. The organic fertilizer will contribute to improving the soil and increasing agricultural productivity, as it is an important product and an added value to the project.

Rejected Brine Path

1.2- Instead of getting rid of the rejected brine, it can be used for fish farming and saline hydroponics to produce some vegetables and forage plants. This is the aquaponics system, which will contribute to increasing production in aquaculture and in fish farming, to be an integrated system.

1.2.1- Fish farming increases the benefit of villages from local resources and increases the proportion of bromine for each individual in the village

1.2.2- Saline hydroponics, in addition to producing vegetables and fodder plants, it’s also plays the role of a filter and reciprocal feeding between fish farming ponds and hydroponic ponds. Produce vegetables that increase the agricultural products of the village. The production of forage plants contributes to providing nutrition for livestock.

The elements of the system

The Energy : The system depends 100% on renewable energy, as Mauritania has great potentials from solar and wind energy, The solar panels or small wind turbine will supply the rest of the system with the energy needed to pump and desalinate water

Solar Energy Potential in Mauritania

Wind Energy Potential in Mauritania

Water : Groundwater is available in Mauritania, but most of it is salty water or contains heavy or polluted elements

Mauritania population density

Mauritania groundwater map

Technology: Small scale desalination systems, systems powered by renewable energy, water pumps and water storage.

WaterKiosk Solar Water Desalination Solution by Boreal Light GmbH

Elemental Water Makers, desalination driven by renewable energy