UNHCR Somalia Interim Livelihoods Strategy 2021-2022



Somalia remains one of the most complex and protracted humanitarian crises in the world. Recurrent droughts and floods, large-scale displacement, poor socioeconomic conditions, high unemployment rates, political instability, environmental degradation, and violent conflict are among the factors exacerbating the humanitarian situation and requiring support from partners across the humanitarian-development nexus.

Against the background of the 2020 onset of the COVID-19 pandemic which exacerbated the weak humanitarian landscape, in 2021 Somalia faces a worrisome political and electoral crisis. The combined impact of these multi-layered/faceted emergencies is the further deterioration of Somalia’s highly unpredictable and fluid environment in which UNHCR and partners operate within. Weak governance and public institutions, a fragile federal system, and widespread insecurity create significant humanitarian and development challenges in Somalia and require interventions from numerous actors. Further to the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), UNHCR is dedicated to building resilience, finding durable solutions for persons of concern, and bridging the humanitarian-development nexus wherever feasible.

The humanitarian and development challenges in Somalia are enormous. Setting aside Somalia’s development challenges, according to the 2021 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan, more than 5.9 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Poverty is widespread and deep, particularly for rural households and for IDP settlements. According to the 2nd Somali High Frequency Survey, almost three-fourths of the population reside in rural areas, settlements of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Mogadishu, and among nomads are poor.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, refugees and asylum seekers as well as other Persons of Concern (PoC) to UNHCR have been disproportionally impacted by the socio-economic consequences of the containment measures and have been among the first to lose their livelihoods. As income-generating opportunities disappear and savings dry up, POCs in Somalia increasingly struggle to meet their basic needs and are resorting to negative coping mechanisms. Despite positive gains at the policy level – as part of Somalia’s CRRF and Global Refugee Forum (GRF) commitments – self-reliance remains out of reach for many POCs, forcing them to rely on scarce humanitarian aid.

This UNHCR Somalia Interim Livelihoods Strategy (2021-2022) has been developed against the background of Somalia’s highly fluid and fragile operational context. It also falls within a period of programmatic transformation for UNHCR Somalia’s Operations, given the roll out to a new Results Based Management (RBM) approach to multi-year/multi-partner programme design, implementation and assessment. This Interim Livelihoods Strategy outlines the strategic directions and recommended actions for the Operation to address the most pressing livelihoods and socio-economic challenges that refugees and returnees, and, to a limited extent subject to resources, other persons of concern including hosting communities, are facing. It is an umbrella strategy covering the entire UNHCR Somalia Operation until the completion of the strategy in 2022, paving the way for a more tailored focus on the three regions of Somaliland, Puntland and South Central in the re-designed Livelihoods Strategy, aligned with the new RBM framework, to follow in 2023.