Somalia: UNICEF Humanitarian Appeal for Children and Women: Jan-Dec 2000



  • Under-five malnutrition and mortality rates are 30 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively
  • One in five children nutritionally wasted, 1.2 million at risk of severe food insecurity
  • Endemic and epidemic killer diseases such as cholera, malaria and tuberculosis
  • 1.6 million persons in Mogadishu, Juba, Gedo and Lower Shebelle are not accessed by UN programmes due to insecurity
  • Huge differences between the relatively stable north and volatile south
  • 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs); 50,000 new IDPs in 1999
  • Only one in three persons has access to potable water
  • Only 1 in 10 6- to 14-year-olds enrolled in school
  • 90 per cent of girls victimized by infibulation - the most severe form of female genital mutilation (FGM)
  • Six aid workers killed in past 12 months


  • Reduce infant/child and maternal morbidity and mortality; reduce/prevent malnutrition among children and pregnant women.
  • Increase children's access to quality learning and improve their cognitive and psychosocial development
  • Prevent the recurrence of widespread humanitarian emergencies through preparedness and rapid response mechanisms
  • Ensure the protection and development of disadvantaged children and youth
  • Reduce gender disparity and promote the advancement of women; promote peace and reconciliation.

The Somali female population remains weakened by poor health and nutrition, and victimized by FGM. Long-term displacement and the absence of functioning institutions of governance to provide basic social services and protection exacerbate these conditions. UNICEF continues to focus on protection of vulnerable populations - including a generation of uneducated youth - and on improving maternal and infant health and nutrition. Also targeted are the eradication of FGM, mine awareness and the promotion of hygiene and sanitation to control the spread of infectious diseases in IDP camps. Collaborative partners promote good governance and capacity-building in anticipation of a 'new dawn' in Somalia, fuelled by hopes of an expanded UN presence.


Health and nutrition
Water and Environmental Sanitation (WES)
Human rights and gender
Public Administration/Mine Awareness


Somalia is symptomatic of many complex emergencies: intractable conflict, chaos and sporadic violence, human rights abuses and humanitarian crises. It is among the poorest and most deprived countries in the world. Life expectancy is 41 years. Eighty per cent of the population earns as little as 41 cents per day. Somalia is susceptible to natural disasters due to land degradation and resource depletion, poor infrastructure, and large concentrations of vulnerable people.

Seventy per cent of the population of 6.1 million people resides in southern and central Somalia and suffers from severe food insecurity, isolation from relief assistance and massive population displacement. The majority of Somalia's 300,000 IDPs resides in these regions. While women have assumed greater responsibilities in the micro-economy due to the breakdown in socio-economic structures, they remain victimized by FGM and high maternal mortality rates.

An entire generation of children is now considered 'the lost, unschooled generation'. Only 1 in 10 6- to 14-year-olds are enrolled in school. Under-five child malnutrition and mortality rates are alarmingly high. Twenty per cent of children are nutritionally wasted.

Resources are urgently needed to save lives in these vulnerable communities suffering the cumulative effects of nearly a decade of armed conflict, a crippled economy, low food production and the virtual absence of health and educational services. The urgency is especially great due to the regional implications of the absence of government in Somalia. The informal cross-border trade in weapons and drugs, and political instability, threatens the entire Horn of Africa, where an estimated 350,000 Somali refugees reside in camps in neighbouring Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen.

Somalia is a case study in the challenges of globalization and state collapse. Modalities must be developed for states in such transition to address the problems of porous borders, lack of international representation and exclusion from treaties. The UN Secretary-General, in August 1999, signalled an enhanced role for the UN in national reconciliation and re-establishment of a functioning State. This has led to anticipation of the arrival of a 'new dawn' for Somalia. While continuing to target emergency relief needs, donors and international agencies promote integrated programmes that include good governance, capacity-building and protection components in an effort to mitigate lingering vulnerabilities.


UNICEF seeks to ensure access to preventive and curative health services for children and women. Immunization coverage of DPT3 in a target population of 120,000 under-one-year-olds is 34 per cent for all regions.

Sub-National polio immunization days (SNIDs) were carried out in August and September 1998 in southern Somalia, and in November and December 1998 in northern Somalia. A total of 1,443,695 children under five years of age were vaccinated and provided with vitamin A supplements during the first rounds of the campaign. The National Immunization Days (NIDs) for 1999 will take place in October and November.

UNICEF assisted the Ministry of Health and Labour of Somaliland to formulate policies and strategies addressing issues of standards and procedures, accountability and participatory management of health care resources. The Health Policy of Somaliland was endorsed by the Parliament. The pilot project, which initially involved two districts, as a result will be expanded to include eight districts.

UNICEF promotes the development of Regional Health Plans and will shift more monitoring responsibilities to the regional level. The Puntland Administration in northeast Somalia has asked for UNICEF's assistance in formulating their health policy. A strategic planning exercise is scheduled to take place in October 1999, the outcome of which will form the basis for health policies in the northeast.

In the areas of 'recovery' - namely, the northern parts of Somalia - efforts are under way to shift the emphasis of the nutrition programme to prevention of malnutrition through improved diet and caring capacity.

During 1998 and 1999, close to 300 water points were rehabilitated/constructed, bringing the total number of water points supported by UNICEF since 1993 to over 1,000. UNICEF supported the training of over 100 WES management committees in 1999. Over 500 handpump mechanics were trained during the two-year period, 25 per cent of whom were women. Semi-private sales centres for spare parts were established to increase programme sustainability. UNICEF continued to construct school sanitation facilities and provide support to school health and hygiene programmes.

Accomplishments in 1998 and 1999 include the formation of community education committees (CECs); re-establishment of supervisory cadre; establishment of an education management information system (EMIS); introduction of low-cost physical improvements to schools and classrooms; initiation of a learner assessment and certification system; and creation of national, zonal, regional and subregional level coordination and networking mechanisms. Youth sports clubs were formed for the initiation of non-formal education for older children/adolescents in numeracy/literacy and life skills.

In order to promote awareness and affirmative action, UNICEF has initiated a school-based project involving the use of a children's workbook on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF collaborates with UNIFEM and other agencies to promote the rights of women and girls in Somalia.

Flexibility in programming and execution continue to be of paramount importance for operations in Somalia, where few institutions of governance exist and where situations can change very rapidly. Given the volatile situation in the country, emergency preparedness remains a built-in feature of all programmes.


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