2020 Somalia Humanitarian Needs Overview


Summary of Humanitarian Needs





Somalia's politics, security and development collectively create a complex environment, with much of the country's recent past marked by recurrent climatic shocks, armed conflict and violence. With most Somalis dependent on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, climate change is a major concern, as disruptions to the weather lead to phenomena such as drought and flood, two common factors that drive humanitarian need in the country.

The humanitarian context in Somalia has remained fragile for a number of seasons; the impact of the prolonged 2016-17 drought is still being felt. Subsequent hurdles, including poor Deyr rains in 2018 (October-December), an unusually hot dry Jilaal season in 2019 (December-March), and abnormal, erratic rainfall during the same year's Gu rainy season (April-June). Even as this needs overview is being written, flash flooding is currently affecting 540,000 people across Middle and Lower Juba, Bay, Lower and Middle Shabelle, and Hiraan - of these, 370,000 have already been displaced. Climatic shocks, combined with other persistent drivers of needs - such as armed conflict and/or displacement - have left around five million Somalis in need of humanitarian assistance.

According to the 2019 post-Gu assessment - conducted by FAO's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) - cereal production had declined by up to 70 per cent in southern Somalia during the 2019 cropping season. The resulting shortfall is linked to the abnormally high market price of sorghum throughout the season. The situation is likely to worsen in conflict-affected areas where people are displaced or facing illegal taxation, reducing any incentive for agricultural production. The results indicate that, in the absence of humanitarian assistance, up to 2.1 million people across Somalia face severe hunger through December 2019, bringing the total number of Somalis expected to be food insecure by year's end to 6.3 million.

Huge food and nutrition gaps remain in poor, agro-pastoral, marginalized and displaced communities where many vulnerable people have been pushed into the most severe food and nutrition insecurity phases. While the number of people in need of nutrition-related assistance is higher among non-IDPs, the prevalence of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) among children is increasing, especially among IDPs, with preliminary results indicating that 10 out of the 33 population groups surveyed had critical levels of acute malnutrition (i.e. global acute malnutrition exceeding 15 per cent). Without a response, it is estimated that one million children will be acutely malnourished, including 180,000 children with SAM, between July 2019 and June 2020. This, coupled with a serious lack of access to clean water and sanitation, is heightening the risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases, especially where health services are too few and/or too distant (23 per cent of non-displaced and 35 per cent of IDPs do not have access to a health care facility). Inadequate access to water and sanitation is also one of the major factors leading children to abandon school.

Serious protection concerns and rights violations persist in Somalia, putting civilian lives at risk, forcing many to flee, exposing them to multiple risks while displaced, and impeding the effective implementation of durable solutions. Many of these protection concerns stem from negative and hazardous coping mechanisms applied by destitute and severely food insecure families. Examples include early marriage, family separation, voluntary child recruitment, child labour and hazardous adult labour. Rights violations and abuses, such as gender-based violence (GBV), including sexual violence, child recruitment, attacks on civilian areas and infrastructures and forced displacement remain pervasive features of the protection crisis in Somalia. Certain groups and individuals such as women, children, people with disabilities, the elderly and members of marginalized communities are at particular risk of violence, exploitation, exclusion and discrimination. Vulnerability to sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) is heightened by limited access to reporting mechanisms for these groups and individuals, usually due to social exclusion and marginalization.

In addition to clan-based violence, the conflict between government forces, their allies and non-state armed groups continues to endanger the safety of people in need and is a key driver for displacement. Furthermore, drought-induced population displacement has been on the rise. In July, the number of people reporting drought as the cause for displacement more than doubled (as compared to June), adding to the 2.6 million current IDPs, who continue to face serious risks of eviction, marginalization and exclusion across Somalia. Risks of exclusion and discrimination are differential and intersectional, based on societal discrimination, gender power structures, vulnerability, and age. People with disabilities are at heightened risk of violence and abuse and experience significant barriers to access humanitarian aid, with pre-existing social stigmata exacerbated. Somalia’s societal structure is highly complex, comprised of numerous social groups, clans, sub-clans and ethnic minority groups that are not members of any specific clan. Weak local institutions, divisions and constantly evolving relations among these groups, which are also influenced by the involvement of non-state armed actors, are some of the most prevalent societal conditions, and represent a key driver of the inter-community conflicts that contribute to the vulnerability of the various groups.

Displacement can aggravate existing inequalities due to the loss of livelihoods; this introduces new dimensions of marginalization and exclusion. Marginalized communities face discrimination and exclusion from social support structures, as well as services and assistance provided by aid agencies. Women, youth, and marginalized communities are all denied participation in decision-making processes, including regarding humanitarian assistance. Whilst IDPs generally feel relatively more informed about aid available to them than other affected people (83 per cent), the main reported barrier to accessing information (and by extension aid) is the lack of community connections. Community organization can be central to improving local governance structures and, by extension, potentially improve people’s access to services. These dynamics have disproportionately affected IDPs from minority groups or those with weak social connections in host communities, negatively impacting their access to assistance and protection. This context is a high-risk environment for SEA as those receiving aid depend on others for their survival. SEA of crisis-affected people committed by actors who provide aid constitutes the most serious breach of accountability by the humanitarian sector.

Shelter and non-food item (NFI) needs are also very high, especially in IDP sites where many IDP households live in makeshift shelters. These makeshift shelters do not provide adequate privacy and protection against weather elements. Lack of tenure security, random evictions and fire incidents further exacerbate the shelter needs of IDPs. About one-third of the Somali population lack essential NFIs.

There is no reliable data on the number of people with disabilities in Somalia, so estimates must be drawn from global prevalence and the context of Somalia, as a country affected by ongoing conflict that holds a low human development rating. WHO estimates that 15 per cent of the global population has a disability and that 80 per cent of those people live in developing countries. It is likely that Somalia’s rate is closer to 20 per cent due to conflict-related disability and environmental factors, and that most families will have at least one member with a disability.


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