UNICEF Humanitarian Action: Somalia Donor Update 27 Jan 2003


  • All programmes funded through the Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal launched in December.


Overview of the Humanitarian Context

Throughout 2002 Somalia remained beset by conflict and division, prone to drought, vulnerable to flood and presenting some of the worst child and maternal survival indicators in the world. In some areas, especially southern Somalia, humanitarian programmes faced frequent disruption caused by a growing pattern of intra-clan conflict, which in early 2003 shows no sign of diminishing. The relationship between this increasing trend of local conflict and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development-sponsored reconciliation talks ongoing since October in Eldoret, Kenya, is seen by many as representing efforts by various warlords and militia leaders to expand or consolidate control in advance of any possible peace agreement.

The Central and Southern Zone (CSZ) in particular remains insecure and presents an unstable operating environment particularly in the areas around Mogadishu. Buale District, Lower Juba, and the Gedo region remain closed to UN agencies. However, Merka and Belet Weyen were cleared for humanitarian personnel in mid-January. UNICEF staff continue to be based out of Jowhar, as the former base, Baidoa, remains too insecure. In the last quarter 2002, there was a large kidnapping which included three children and an attack on a secondary school bus that resulted in the deaths of six children. In response to this situation and the wider incidental and deliberate targeting of children witnessed in late December and early January, the UN Resident Coordinators office, in consultation with UNICEF, prepared a public statement condemning the bus attack and the trend of violence against children.

In contrast, the Northwest Zone of 'Somaliland' (NWZ) offers an environment of relative peace and stability. Following the death of the long term President Mohammed Ibrahim Egal, a smooth transition of authority took place to his deputy and municipal elections were held peacefully in December. Tensions with neighbouring 'Puntland', however, remained high. In the Northeast Zone of Puntland (NEZ), a constitutional crisis continued from the last quarter of 2001, which led to the return of the former Puntland President, Abdullahi Yusuf. An upsurge in internal conflict in the latter part of 2002 resulted in restricted access for UN personnel to Bossaso and a few other locations in the zone.

Despite the challenging political and security environment, the food security outlook in 2003 is considerably better than in the last few years. Successful 'Gu' and 'Deyr' rainy seasons brought relief to many drought-affected areas of the country. Good cereal harvest and improved pasture and water conditions for livestock are expected to substantially improve food security conditions for most of the country excepting pockets in the Northwest and Northeast. Although the tow year Saudi-imposed import ban of livestock remains in place, which reduces foreign exchange earning and undermines livelihoods, a recent upsurge in livestock export figures indicated the success of an alternate marketing strategy.

In December, the UN Country Team launched the 2003 United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Somalia with a total funding requirement of US$77.8 million. The UNICEF component of that is $16 million and includes emergency and rehabilitation based activities.


Programme outreach continues to all zones in Somalia

Throughout 2002, UNICEF maintained the largest UN presence in Somalia with a core of 157 personnel based in the country, including 75 national and 14 international professional staff. Overall technical guidance, management and operational support was carried out from the UNICEF Somalia Support Centre (USSC) in Nairobi. Within a varied operating environment, programme activities were maintained through sub-offices in Hargeisa, Bossaso and Jowhar (following relocation from Baidoa), and reduced operations continued through the Kismayo and Mogadishu satellite offices. Programme emphasis was placed on primary health care and nutrition, water and environmental sanitation (WES), basic education and cross-sectoral projects including HIV/AIDS, gender, female genital mutilation (FGM) and child protection, in addition to emergency preparedness and response. UNICEF, its partners and local authorities continue collaborating to attain the following objectives:

  • Health & Nutrition: Improvement of the quality and sustainability of health facilities, health service delivery and establishment of more accountable health management systems, and delivery of supplementary and therapeutic feeding;

  • Water and Environmental Sanitation: Development of sustainable urban and rural water systems, and improvement of hygiene and environmental sanitation at household and community level;

  • Education: System-wide education reforms, finalisation of lower primary curriculum, syllabus and textbooks, teacher training, improvement of standards of learning, and development of education management information systems at school and community, regional and zonal levels;

  • Cross-sectoral: Advocacy and mobilisation of communities to address the emerging threat of HIV/AIDS, promotion of the total eradication of FGM, equal opportunities for girls and women, addressing protection-related issues such as the demobilisation of child soldiers.

  • Emergency Preparedness and Response: Maintenance of pre-positioned relief stocks in seven secure storage points in all three zones, and implementation of contingency planning, inter-agency co-ordination and staff training.

Health: Infant, child and maternal mortality rates in Somalia are among the highest in the world. Diarrhoeal disease-related dehydration, respiratory infections and malaria are the main killers of infants and young children, together accounting for more than half of all child deaths. Cholera is endemic, with outbreaks occurring annually from December to May. Reproductive health also suffers, with the maternal mortality rates significantly higher than the pre-war estimates, placing Somali women among the most high-risk groups in the world.

In the last quarter of the year, cholera was an increasing concern with suspected cases reported in Mogadishu and Jowhar. During November, 251 suspected cases were reported in Benadir hospital, of which 117 patients were under two years old. Seven deaths were reported. By mid-December, Benadir and Hayat hospitals in Mogadishu reported that caseloads were again manageable. UNICEF response has included support to cholorination of public and private water sources in affected areas and areas with no cases reported as part of a wider cholera control strategy, including Lower and Middle Juba and Mudug. In Kismayo, chlorine was distributed in partnership with Mercy International for surrounding regions. Activities in Lower and Middle Juba included use of radio to transmit cholera prevention and control messages along with planning, advocacy and sensitisation meetings with community elders and local authorities. In Jowhar, UNICEF worked closely with the NGO InterSos on cholera treatment and control activities following an outbreak in November of which several positive cases were detected with a total of 53 cases treated by the end of the month. To address persistent case occurrences, house to house chlorination activities were carried out in Hantiwadaag sector of the town in early December. Efforts are underway to verify contamination points and undertake necessary procedural and possibly infrastructural improvements.

Other health activities were ongoing during the quarter including training activities, immunisation and distribution of malaria prevention supplies. Of particular interest, local health authorities in the Northwest Zone undertook eyesight screening for 20,875 children in Hargeisa and Borama towns in collaboration with UNICEF and consultants from the Kikuyu Eye Hospital in Kenya. Some 732 children were diagnosed with problems that needed further treatment and the provision of eye glasses. The screening took ten days and covered 14 schools in Hargeisa and six in Borama.

Nutrition and supplementary feeding: Malnutrition is a chronic problem. Poor availability and accessibility of food, mainly due to successive drought and conflict, quality of dietary intake, infant feeding practices and inadequate home management practices contribute to the poor nutritional status of children. Considerable variations exist between different areas and population groups, with the central and southern areas being the worst affected.

A nutritional assessment was conducted jointly by UNICEF, Food Security Assessment Unit (FSAU) and local authorities in Awdal and Sahil regions in the Northwest Zone in mid-December in response to reports of drought conditions in that area. Results of 16.4% middle and upper arm circumference (MUAC) indicate that malnutrition was considerably higher among children from small and temporary pastoral villages than those from large and permanent pastoral centres within the zone. Based on this assessment, UNICEF and WFP are supporting targeted health, nutrition and food security based interventions for an estimated 6,000 people. The activities of UNICEF will parallel the Sool/Sanaag response in October in which targeted supplementary foods were distributed, supported by mobile health services and local vaccination campaigns. In Sool and Sanaag a reassessment is planned by UNICEF with local authorities during January following the latest phase of response that includes a mobile clinic, BP-5 distribution to children <12.5cm MUAC along with IDD/vitamin A and distribution of oral rehydration salts.

Across the border, reports were received from Ethiopia of a drought stress migration from Shinile into neighboring Jijiga District. Meanwhile, in Kismayo, an FSAU nutritional assessment in late November among IDPs found 13.3% MUAC of children screened in four camps moderately to severely malnourished. Effective access to vulnerable populations in Kismayo remains a major challenge facing UNICEF and other aid agencies. A joint UNICEF/FSAU nutrition survey was conducted in Goldogob and Jerrihan (Muddug) in late December, the results of which have not yet been released. In Bossaso, an ongoing screening of malnourished displaced children and distribution of supplementary food was completed. Partner NGO Action Contre la Faim reported an increase in therapeutic feeding centre admissions in Mogadishu, attributed to the rainy season. Final figures from a special five-day EPI campaign in Mogadishu in November are 21,777 children (<5 yrs) and 4,056 women vaccinated. Despite the security situation in Baidoa, joint UNICEF/WFP supplementary feeding activities included distribution of cereal, oil and UNIMIX to 283 children for November and December. Also from Baidoa, EPI supplies were delivered to partners in El Wak and Baadere.

Intensified monitoring of Shebelle and Juba River levels, coordinated by FAO, was discontinued in the third week of December as rivers reduced to seasonal levels. This followed an unusually extended Deyr season across much of the southern region and concerns in late November of possible heavy flooding.

Water and Environmental Sanitation: Access to safe water is one of the major problems in Somalia which has been aggravated by the destruction and looting of water supply installations during the continuing conflicts and the general lack of maintenance. This situation is compounded by erratic rainfall patterns, which produce both drought and flood. Less than 50% of the population of Somalia are living in households with sanitary means of excreta disposal. The impact of poor environmental sanitation is particularly felt in the cities, towns and large villages or other places where people live in proximity to each other and defecation is close to dwellings and water resources. In addition, lack of garbage collection and the proliferation of plastic bags affect the urban environment and water sources.

Water activities continued during the quarter, with the installation of wells and handpumps in four locations in the Northwest zone including Adal, Galbeed and Odweine. In Northeast zone, a solar powered rural water project was completed in December that will benefit the surrounding community of 1,000 while a project for Dangoroyo beginning. Also in the Northeast, UNICEF reached agreement with a local NGO partner for installation of pumps and generators for the Gardo bore wells. In Galkayo, the latest phase of the town water project has concentrated on pipeline trench digging, pipe installation for distribution mains and steel tank construction. Also in Galkayo, landfill/dumping site construction in support of the urban sanitation project is in progress. In Armo village, an assessment of the planned water project was carried out with a project plan of action in preparation. Drilling of a deepwell in Dongoroyo is in progress. Teacher training for hygiene and sanitation was held in December for Mudug region by UNICEF Bossaso staff. In Jamame, Middle Shabelle, following the official opening of a UNICEF supported town water project in November, additional activities took place to extend a water pipeline from the town water supply to Bangane village, four kilometres away.

Education through both formal and non-formal learning opportunities is virtually non-existent in Somalia. Although there has been a substantial increase in the number of operational schools and enrolment rates, considerable disparities in quality and access to primary education prevail in parts of all zones due to the socio-economic, cultural and political realities in these areas. Gender related disparities remain an area of major concern as revealed by the 2001/2 Primary School Survey showing that only slightly over one-third (35%) of pupils are girls at the lower primary school levels. The low enrolment and high drop out rates of girls in most areas are due to a combination of traditional attitudes, timing of classes for girls and economic considerations and unfavourable conditions.

The lack of even a basic education structure has meant that UNICEF began at the ground level and has assisted in creating a curriculum and standardised textbooks as a foundation for the rehabilitation of primary education in the country. In 2002 and into the first month of 2003, newly developed textbooks were printed and made accessible to Somali children in more than 1,100 schools. Over 6,500 primary school teachers received training as focus on system-wide education reforms and improved standards of learning continue to be emphasised. As a result, gross enrolment rates increased by almost 4% over the last academic year. Non-formal learning opportunities were explored, with UNICEF building relationships with 171 youth groups and organisations and carrying out training in leadership and organisational development. UNICEF is also supporting sports, recreation and cultural activities encourage participation of children and youth and promote key advocacy activities.

UNICEF will continue in 2003 to support teacher training, development and distribution of learning materials and will work closely with the Child Protection sector to increase activities targeting vulnerable youth.

Protection: In co-ordination with key international and national partners, UNICEF has begun a major and unprecedented child protection study in all zones of the country. The study will develop a baseline on the vulnerabilities of the groups at most risk, including child soldiers, internally displaced and minority children, orphans and street children, child victims of sexual and other forms of violence and abuse, as well as those suffering from economic exploitation. It is hoped that the outcome of the study will be a more feasible and coherent child protection strategy for Somalia. Linked to this, UNICEF is undertaking a review of the situation of displaced populations, mainly targeting over 300,000 internally displaced across the country, primarily in the south, many of whom has been displaced for several years or more. As indicated in the 2003 Consolidated Appeal, child protection from abuse, exploitation, violence and discrimination is one of UNICEF's key priorities.

Mine Risk Education: The conflicts over the last 30 years in Somalia have left the country with ordnance contamination in the form of landmines and various unexploded ordnance (UXO). It is estimated that between 1.2 and two million mines have been laid in different parts of Somalia since the Ogaden war with Ethiopia in 1997. There are more than 100 suspected minefields along the border between Somalia and Ethiopia, mostly in pastoral areas. According to a 'Knowledge, Attitude and Practice' survey and qualitative interviews carried out by UNICEF with Handicap International in 2002, more than 60 per cent of people interviewed indicated that they perceived themselves to be living in a landmine and/or UXO contaminated area. An overwhelming percentage of people expressed their willingness to receive information regarding landmines and UXOs, in particular on how communities can find solutions to live safely in their mine-contaminated area and to learn to adequately report on landmines and UXOs incidents. Based on these findings and in co-operation with local authorities and UN agencies, UNICEF and Handicap are developing a joint plan of action to promote a mine/UXO awareness raising campaign in Somalia, focusing on vulnerable groups.

Emergency Preparedness and Response: In order to ensure readiness for any sudden crisis, UNICEF continues to maintain pre-positioned relief stocks in seven secure storage points in all three zones. These pre-positioned items include blankets, plastic sheeting, jerry cans, chlorine, BP-5 biscuits, cholera kits and cooking sets. Intensified monitoring of Shabelle and Juba River levels, coordinated by FAO, was discontinued in the third week of December as rivers reduced to seasonal levels. This followed an unusually extended Deyr season across much of the south and concerns in late November of possible flooding.

Major constraints encountered include:

  • On-going conflict drastically restricting humanitarian access in some parts of the country;

  • Fragmented and weak local administration in some areas;

  • Limited field presence of experienced humanitarian partners;

  • High expectations on the stretched capacities of UNICEF and other agencies to respond.


Launch of the 2003 Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal for Somalia

Within the framework of the 2003 UN Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP), UNICEF outlined a requirement of US$ 16.1 million to support its humanitarian activities in Somalia. The table below shows the funding requirements, by sector:

Funds Required (US$)
Health &Nutrition
Water &Sanitation
Child Protection
Land Mines Awareness

No funds have been received yet against the 2003 Appeal, although pledges amounting to US$3 million were made late in 2002 and are expected to be available for utilisation in early 2003.


The table below lists the most urgent priorities:

AmountRequired (US$)
2.Emergency Education
3. Water and Sanitation - Rapid response to sudden disasters

Further details of the Somalia Programme can be obtained from:

Jesper Morch
UNICEF Somalia
Tel: 254 2 623952
Fax: 254 2 623 961

Olivier Degreef
Tel: 41 22 909 5546
Fax: 41 22 909 5902

Dan Rohrmann
New York
Tel: 1 212 326 7009
Fax: 1 212 326 7165