For decades, Somalia has suffered from prolonged conflict and extreme weather, including recurrent droughts and floods.
The country is now facing an unprecedented forecast of a 4th consecutive failed rainy season. This is compounded by protracted conflict, political instability, and a desert locust infestation.
In addition, the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and soaring global food and fuel prices due to Russia’s war in Ukraine affect large parts of Somalia.
Over 7.7 million people require humanitarian assistance, including thousands at risk of famine. EU humanitarian funding is helping aid organisations in Somalia provide assistance to those in need.
What are the needs?
In November 2021, Somalia declared a state of emergency because of the drought. After 3 consecutive failed rainy seasons, nearly the entire country is experiencing severe drought conditions. A 4th failed rainy season is now looming, increasing the risk of famine.
Close to 5 million people are currently affected by the drought. Over 700,000 Somalis have left their homes searching for water, food, and medical aid. With limited access to assistance, they are living in unsanitary makeshift camps together with the 2.9 million previously displaced by conflict and extreme weather events.
Acute food insecurity has drastically worsened since the beginning of 2022, and 4.8 million people are experiencing food crisis. The rate of malnutrition among children is critically high with over 1.4 million children under 5 years old who are acutely malnourished.
Several parts of the country report upsurges of inter-community clashes and conflict over natural resources, especially about water.
Political instability persists and the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine is further stressing global food supply chains and fuel prices. Due to this situation, 6 million people (38 % of the total population) are likely to be affected in the coming months.
As needs outpace response, a scale-up of humanitarian assistance is needed urgently to respond to the drought and displacement and avoid preventable deaths. A major drought in 2011/12 led to famine killing an estimated 256,000 people.
How are we helping?
In 2022, the EU is allocating €61 million for humanitarian projects in Somalia, mainly responding to the ongoing drought.
This comes on top of €18.5 million that the EU had allocated in December 2021 in response to the drought. The EU and its Member States provide over 35% of all humanitarian aid in Somalia.
EU humanitarian funding supports aid organisations in delivering (i) food assistance, (ii) basic health and nutrition services, (iii) clean water, (iv) protection, (v) shelter, and (vi) education in emergencies.
Our partners work essentially in rural and hard to reach areas to ensure that no one is left behind. They also work to prevent further displacement of rural populations to already congested urban and peri-urban areas.
Whenever relevant, EU humanitarian support helps people in need through cash transfers. This enables them to feed and sustain their family, including access to education and health care. In addition, using cash transfers helps overcome some of the accessibility challenges in the country while supporting local markets.
Somalia has a high child and maternal mortality rate, severe malnutrition rates, and frequent disease outbreaks. The country’s health system is also facing all sorts of shortages.
There is currently an increase in disease outbreaks in the country, especially acute watery diarrhoea cholera, and several suspected cases of measles. This is due to the ongoing drought, limited access to clean water and hygiene, and unsanitary living conditions in displacement camps.
Therefore, the EU focuses on providing quality health care, epidemics prevention and control, and emergency treatment of malnutrition. We support experienced health and nutrition partners working in local health centres and hospitals.
The EU also funds disaster risk reduction and preparedness activities through community-based early warning, preparedness and response systems. The aim is to reduce the impact of weather events like floods and droughts, notably along the Shabelle basin river.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, EU-funded humanitarian projects in Somalia have adapted to help beneficiaries and staff keep safe while providing life-saving assistance. EU humanitarian partners also ensured surveillance, detection and response to COVID-19 transmission.
The EU has also supported the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns as part of the EU’s humanitarian initiative in Africa. These actions complement ongoing efforts by the Ministry of Health of Somalia and are implemented in line with the COVID-19 country preparedness and response plan for Somalia.
The EU also organised 3 Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to Somalia in 2020, transporting much-needed health equipment to humanitarian partners. These operations occurred when global transport and freight halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2020 and 2021, the EU also provided €17.5 million in humanitarian aid specifically to help tackle the locust outbreak in the Horn of Africa and protect the livelihoods of affected farmers and pastoralists in Somalia.
Still, the country needs more long-term development to prevent vulnerable people, such as pastoral and agricultural communities, from sliding back into crisis. Cooperation between the EU’s humanitarian and development actions is ongoing, especially for cash-based safety nets and education, to build up the longer-term resilience of fragile Somali communities.
Facts & figures
More than 7.7million people need humanitarian assistance and 4.8 million are facing critical or severe food insecurity (OCHA)
1 in 7 children dies before turning 5 (UNICEF)
3.6 million internally displaced people (OCHA)
More than 667,000 Somali refugees in neighbouring countries (UNHCR)
EU humanitarian funding:
€61 million in 2022
nearly €458 million since 2017