Somalia: Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Assessment Report - December 2019



In Somalia, 2.7 million people are still in need of humanitarian WASH support1 after decades of protracted crisis. United Nations agencies, non-governmental organizations, and organizations specialized in assessments collect large amounts of data, which is often challenging to analyze because of its overwhelming amount, uneven quality and incomplete coverage.
To make sense out of this data, this assessment conducted a process of data collation, synthesis and analysis building on a desk study of all relevant data available, with a focus on quantitative data collection initiatives.

The general objective of the assessment is to understand and analyze WASH-related needs across Somalia to support evidence-based planning and advocacy by the WASH cluster. To achieve this goal, it contains the following specific objectives:

  1. To understand the current WASH-related needs in Somalia.

  2. To identify key factors and underlying causes of these needs and vulnerabilities.

  3. To lay the foundation for continued monitoring and analysis by the WASH cluster.

  4. To provide a robust evidence base to assist WASH cluster planning in Somalia and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of programming.

Accordingly, the following assessment is based on a review of quantitative WASH data, including the data being used by the WASH cluster in support of the 2020 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) and Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).
The second source of data used for this report is from REACH’s third annual Joint Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment (JMCNA). It entailed surveys of 10,783 households during July 2019 in 53 of the 74 districts in Somalia. Results are statistically representative for displaced and non-displaced households at the district-level. Figures for the total district population including displaced and non-displaced populations were aggregated based on the proportion of the population they encompassed. For the districts where non-displaced populations were surveyed, but not non-displaced, the population mean is based solely on the non-displaced population. District-level results were aggregated to the national level by weighting district averages by the percent of the national population in the district. Additionally, the assessment was intended to further investigate specific issues and themes pre-identified by the WASH Cluster, through Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) to add additional depth to the understanding of the issues and to better integrate the perspectives of beneficiaries.
To this aim, twenty-four FGDs were conducted in September 2019 in Baidoa, Banadir, Galkayo, and further stratified by urban/rural, sex, affected group, disability, and ethnicity. Each FGDs consisted of six to eight participants.

The following key indicators used for the JMCNA show the pressing level of WASH needs in Somalia.2 A third of the households reported not having enough drinking water, half reported lacking access to improved latrines, water sources, and soap, while three quarters reportedly did not have menstrual hygiene materials (e.g. menstrual cloth, pads, tampons, menstrual cups, etc.).

According to secondary data, wasting (GAM WHZ<-2)3 prevalence is estimated to be 13% nationally,4 representing a “serious” severity classification that warrants a public health concern calling for action.5 Current data for stunting (HAZ<-2),is classified at a “low” severity level (7%) nationally.7 However, it should be noted that this data from Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is far lower than previous thorough nutritional assessments (25%)8 in Somalia and in neighboring nations like Ethiopia (38%)9 and Kenya (26%),10 which are classified as “high” when between 20-30% and “very high” when above 30%.11

There is an inadequate quantity of improved latrines. The JMCNA additionally found that shared latrines reportedly remain common as reported by 46% of the households with access to latrines, 12 though almost no FGD participants supported having shared latrines because of the lack of privacy and cleanliness. 13 If it cannot be avoided, respondents reported not wanting to share latrines with more than two other households.14 For households with access to a latrine, more than half nationally (54%) reported having their own latrine, while the rest (46%) reportedly use shared facilities.15 Non-displaced households (60%) were reportedly twice as likely to have private latrines compared to displaced households (31%).16 The majority of FGD participants reported supporting the gender separation of shared latrines.17

Hygiene practices remain insufficient, leading to a heightened risk of water-borne disease. Less than half of the FGD participants reported washing their hands regularly after defecation.18 JMCNA data showed that a majority of the households (79%) reportedly have a handwashing facility within 15 minutes travel time.19 However, less than a third of households (31%) reported a functional handwashing facility at their latrine.20 Non-displaced households, on the other hand, were reportedly much more likely (34%) to have one than displaced households (20%).21 When soap was unavailable, FGD participants reported using water only, ash, and sand at even numbers.

A majority of latrines lack basic fixtures such as lights, locks, or are inaccessible to disabled persons, with a greater proportion of latrines accessed by displaced households reportedly lacking basic fixtures. The JMCNA showed that three quarters (75%) were reportedly lockable from the inside and, less than a third (32%) had lighting at night. Non-displaced households (37%) were reportedly over three times as likely to have lighting in latrines compared to displaced households (10%).23 While the JMCNA found 91% of latrines were reportedly accessible for disabled people, 24 a large majority of disabled FGD participants expressed issues of access them, including difficulties in using the toilets and transporting water when asked what were the main challenges accessing WASH services.

JMCNA data showed that households employing WASH-related coping strategies generally had low levels of access to WASH services. Therefore, the use of these strategies did not improve wellbeing and livelihood conditions. Hence, they could be seen as mitigation measures that reduce the worst impact, rather than compensation measures that make up for the loss due to a shock.26

Of all focus group participants, almost two-thirds reported being satisfied or very satisfied with WASH programming. About half reported that WASH programming supports the priority needs of their community. Two-thirds felt that their communities were involved in decision-making about WASH programming. Around a quarter reportedly knew of complaint mechanisms existing, how to use them, or saying they work well.27

A quarter of FGD participants thought WASH facilities and Non-Food Items (NFIs) were of good or very good quality.
However, there were considerable differences between the types of facilities and items: water points and storage were thought very favorably of, while the others were viewed poorly. Very few thought WASH facilities and NFIs lasted a long time. Again, water-related services were thought to last longer than other types. Toilets were the most remarked upon service as many complained that they were not dug deep enough, were of low quality, and collapsed when it rains. Garbage collection sites were also mentioned often with participants noting that they filled up quickly and were prone to collapsing.28

The key figures above indicate a high level of WASH needs in Somalia. Physical wellbeing and living standards conditions remain severely low, while there is limited availability and use of coping mechanisms. The results of this assessment are intended to assist policy makers in evidence-based decision making. While this report provides a general summary, the accompanying database and information products contain the complete range of WASH indicators aggregated by district and nationally and by displaced, non-displaced, and total populations.