In the midst of one of the worst sandstorms to hit Nouakchott in the last year, 140 farmers were struggling to protect the vegetable shoots they planted a month ago. Throughout 10 hectares located 17 kilometers from the center of the capital, farmers supervised self-irrigation and controlled their plants while the wind raised huge amounts of sand, which slipped between the eyes, into the mouth when speaking and made it very difficult to vision beyond two meters away. With this scenario, at 11:00 a.m., Queen Letizia has arrived to learn about the Orchards project as part of her cooperation trip to Mauritania.

Despite the inclement weather, the Queen wanted to go into some of the orchards and get to know them. Although at first she got out of the car with her face uncovered, she finally chose to walk protected with a mask and sunglasses, as the only way to see something.

This project to support the Mayors’ Pact is a delegated initiative of the European Union. Provided with a budget of two million euros, it sought to create green areas to absorb CO2 and fight climate change. With this idea, the Spanish Cooperation decided after talking with the local authorities to organize the planting of an orchard in order to improve food security.

Mauritania, and especially Nouakchott, is a country highly dependent on the import of fresh products, so with this vegetable garden project they hope to improve the nutrition of the families that work the land and, in turn, promote a cooperative to market the surplus. This has been explained by Fatima Boukhreiss, responsible for the project, who has accompanied Doña Letizia during her visit. “It is a very important project, because we are very dependent on the production of neighboring countries and we have to have local production,” she explained. “It is also important for the most vulnerable women and young people, that they have a project from which they can live,” she stressed.

This is the Queen’s second day of work in Mauritania, on her seventh cooperation trip. Doña Letizia brings to these trips the necessary showcase and visibility so that the work of the Spanish Cooperation is known more deeply. For this reason, Pilar Cancela, Secretary of State for Cooperation, explained that the Queen is a “distinguished aid worker”. “She always throws herself into all the trips she makes of her and thanks to her everything is visualized without problems.”

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