Humanitarian Action for Children 2021 - Somalia



  • In Somalia, 5.9 million people, including 3.9 million children, will need humanitarian assistance in 2021 due to the devastating impact of flooding, desert locusts and the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.1

  • Conflict is also continuing to disrupt the lives of children and increasing their vulnerability to protection violations.

  • In 2021, UNICEF will focus on increasing community engagement for social and behavioural change and strengthening accountability to affected populations in Somalia.

  • UNICEF will aim to reach 1.2 million people, including 792,000 children, with humanitarian assistance. The response will focus on the most vulnerable groups, such as survivors of gender-based violence and children with disabilities.

  • UNICEF is seeking US$129.8 million to provide humanitarian services and support to the children of Somalia. With these funds, UNICEF will be able to reach 121,500 children with treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM), over 1 million people with health services and 850,000 people with emergency water services.


Children in Somalia are affected by multiple humanitarian crises, including the ongoing conflict, flooding, desert locusts and the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, an estimated 5.9 million people, including 3.9 million children, will need humanitarian assistance in Somalia in 2021.6 The locust infestation – the worst in Somalia in 25 years – has deepened food insecurity and devastated livelihoods. An estimated 162,000 food insecure Somali children are at risk of SAM.7

Livelihoods have also been impacted by the severe floods that affected 250,000 people in central and southern Somalia in 2020 and destroyed service and road infrastructure.8 Where floods have undermined access to clean water and sanitation and hygiene services, and health service utilization and awareness are low, children are at risk of waterborne diseases, including acute watery diarrhoea/cholera. Some 4.6 million people, including over 3 million children, need access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).9

The ongoing conflict also continues to put children at risk of protection violations and impact their access to basic social services. An estimated 2.6 million people have been displaced by conflict in Somalia, with 939,000 people newly displaced in 2020.10

The social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak have heightened risks of genderbased violence, malnutrition and mental health challenges for affected populations. Women and girls are increasingly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse; some 1.3 million women and girls require protection from gender-based violence.11

Remittances have declined by 17 per cent; and incomes are down 20 to 30 per cent among poor urban households and internally displaced persons.12 The pandemic has also placed severe strain on already fragile health systems in Somalia, with limited access to dedicated health services putting vulnerable children at additional risk.

The school closures caused by the pandemic have significantly disrupted children's education in Somalia. Some 1.9 million children currently require access to schooling.13 Declining enrolment could lead to a serious deterioration in education outcomes and impede children's learning over the long-term.