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As Drought Keeps Men on the Road, Mauritania’s Pastoralist Women Take Charge

Every year when the pastoralist men in Fatima Demba’s Mauritanian village return from their months-long journey to find pastures and water, the women erupt in wild celebrations.

“We draw henna tattoos on our bodies, we braid our hair, we wear our nicest clothes,” she said, re-adjusting her bright yellow and blue robe.

Yet although she longs for her husband to come home, Demba sees one benefit in his absence.

“I am in charge of everything,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, sitting in the shade of a mud-brick hut in Mafoundou village. “Our money, our field of millet — even the village’s borehole …read more