The humanitarian crisis in Somalia continues to deteriorate. The current extreme, widespread, and persistent multi-season drought is unprecedented. Four consecutive rainy seasons have failed, a climatic event not seen in at least 40 years. The 2022 March-May rainy season appears likely to be the driest on record, devastating livelihoods and driving sharp increases in food, water, and nutrition insecurity. The impact of the drought and increasing economic pressures are deepening the severity of needs and driving the country to the brink of famine. An estimated 6.13 million people, among whom 40% are school-aged population are estimated to be affected by the drought.
The occurrence of the drought is deepening and widening poverty, and exacerbating pre-existing vulnerabilities, impacting among others education outcomes. The country was already witnessing an overall dysfunctional and weak education system resulting from the multiple crises leading to low quality of education, encompassed by low enrolment rate, low retention rate, low transition rate, and a high number of unqualified and untrained teachers.
Before the drought, more than 70% of school-aged children were already out of school in the country. 3.1M school-aged children were in need of education assistance (HNO 2022). Currently, the Cluster estimates that 2.4M school-aged children are affected by the drought. Among these, 1.7M children are out of school. Furthermore, about 720,000 (47% girls) school going children are at risk of dropping out of school due to the impact of the drought.
At least 250 schools were closed before the end of the academic year in May due to drought-related challenges across the country and about 12 schools (10 in Somaliland and 2 IDP schools in north Gaalkacyo) were destroyed by windstorms in May. Prior to the drought only 52% of schools classified as permanent structures and most education facilities are at least 30 minutes walking distance for 1 in 3 households.
School drop-out is rising and several reasons have been cited. Parents’ inability to pay the school fees, increase in domestic work, worsening protection risks, etc have all severly contributed to school dropout. In addition, the reduction in enrolment and attendance was attributed to the drought induced movements, affecting mostly rural compared to urban areas. Based on the completed surveys, as many people move in search of food and safe water, there’s an increase in the number of children withdrawing from school. With the increasing influx of IDPs, there’s a reduction in opportunities for children to access education in the settlements as existing spaces are limited. Many children who drop out of school, especially adolescent girls, never return to classes once they leave.
School feeding: while little is known about the impact of school feeding programs on education, the immediate benefits include alleviating hunger and improving school enrollment and attendance. With the intensity of the drought and worsening food crisis at household levels, it has been reported that children are dropping out of school because families cannot send hungry children to school with no school feeding program. Schools with school feeding programs are reportedly witnessing an increase in enrolment.