Somalia: Commission grants EUR 5 million in humanitarian aid

The European Commission has adopted a humanitarian aid package worth €5 million to help tackle some of the severe humanitarian needs in Somalia, resulting from prolonged conflict, drought and floods. This latest decision is targeted at those sectors where needs are greatest, namely health, water and sanitation, and food security. More than a million people will benefit from this aid. It is channelled through the Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), which comes under the responsibility of Commissioner Poul Nielson.
There are wide-spread basic humanitarian needs in Somalia after more than a decade of anarchy and civil strife in central and southern Somalia, combined with droughts and floods. The vast majority of the population around seven million people are living in absolute poverty.

Humanitarian needs are most acute in the health and nutrition sector. Where public health services do exist, they suffer from a lack of medicines and personnel. The focus of ECHO funded activities will be on improving access to quality and affordable health services, and reducing malnutrition amongst the most vulnerable groups.

There have been sustained drought conditions in several areas in central and southern Somalia since 1997. Less than 20 percent of the population in these regions have access to safe drinking water. This latest aid decision will give priority to increasing access to clean water in rural areas and improving the sanitation situation of vulnerable groups, especially in cholera prone areas.

Food security in Somalia is also a major problem, especially as livestock production is facing serious disruption due to the civil war. To help improve the situation, ECHO funds will be used to minimise the impact of climatic hazards on livestock, and support crop production with seed distribution and irrigation schemes.

ECHO's implementing partners in Somalia include UN agencies, the Red Cross family and established non-governmental organisations.

A total of more than 1 million people should benefit directly or indirectly from the programmes funded under this decision. Over the past five years ECHO has allocated more than €25 million to Somalia, making it the one of the country's largest donors of humanitarian aid.