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Investing in Dairy Production Protects an Ancient Way of Life in the Sahara


In Mauritania, an arid desert nation, more than half of the country’s inhabitants live as nomadic livestock herders, shepherding camels, sheep, goats and cows across the golden sands of the Sahara. Beginning in the 1960s, Mauritania has experienced a number of severe droughts causing the population of the capital city, Nouakchott, to grow from 100,000 inhabitants to one million as life for subsistence livestock herders grew increasingly precarious. In recent decades, more extreme drought across the Sahel – which borders parts of Chad, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger – has led to severe impoverishment and food insecurity among these nomadic communities. Dwindling water has led to the widespread death of cattle, stillbirths of calves, and reduced milk production.

Milk and dairy products are critical to the Mauritanian diet, with a per capita consumption of milk and its derivatives up to six times higher than the average consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa. Given the country’s heritage as a pastoral country, nearly all of the milk produced locally does not enter the formal market and is either self-consumed or sold as raw milk. Owing to limited dairy processing capacity, Mauritania imports fresh milk equivalent products – powdered, UHT and evaporated milk – which fulfills nearly 80% of the country’s formal demand.


In 2016, IFC and GAFSP made a $9.5 million investment in Tiviski Dairy – the market leader in Mauritania with about 50% share in the pasteurized fresh milk segment -- to help Tiviski modernize, diversify, and expand its milk production.

Implemented over a three-year period, GAFSP’s investment in Tiviski Dairy is expected to deliver strong development impact across the dairy value chain in Mauritania. The joint investment will help meet robust domestic demand for dairy, position Tiviski as the market leader in fresh pasteurized milk, and create export potential for niche camel milk powder products.

Over 2,000 livestock herders from across the Mauritania Sahara, 15% of whom are women, will supply milk to Tiviski through this new investment. The company, which has a milk collection capacity of 42,000 liters per day, has two collection centers in the cities of Rosso and Boghe.

The company will generate an additional 200 jobs through the expansion, and help ensure food safety through the provision of pasteurized milk. Before Tiviski started operation, fresh milk was not marketed at all in Mauritania, save for a few thousand liters sold raw by herders, who lived near the cities, or to small-scale milk retailers.

The project will also aspire to promote and preserve the ancient tradition of pastoralism in Mauritania by alleviating rural to urban migration, and mitigating poverty across the Sahel region.





Focus area

  • Access to Finance
  • Fragility

Supervising entity



2,000 Mauritanian livestock herders and their families will benefit from increased incomes

Over 2,000 livestock herders from across the Mauritania Sahara – 15% of whom are women -- will supply milk to Tiviski through this new investment.

200 additional new jobs will be created

IFC and GAFSP’s investment in Tiviski Dairy will help the company – already the largest employer in the dairy sector in Mauritania -  generate 200 new jobs. 

Supports gender promotion across Mauritania

The combined IFC and GAFSP investment will encourage and support gender promotion as 15% of Tiviski’s milk suppliers are women. 

Work with Us

Launched in 2010, the Global Agriculture & Food Security Program (GAFSP) represents a transformative approach to development aid that pools donor funds to make lasting improvements by supporting technically sound, country-led plans and sustainable, inclusive small- and medium-sized enterprises. The inaugural donors—Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, the Republic of Korea, Spain, and the United States—were soon joined by Australia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. GAFSP’s donors work in partnership with recipients, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to improve the lives of smallholder farmers and their families. Millions of poor and vulnerable people around the world will directly benefit from GAFSP’s continued commitment and support. GAFSP looks to engage other donors and stakeholders in this important initiative.

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