For decades, Somalia has suffered from prolonged conflict and extreme weather, including recurrent droughts and floods.
The country has now experienced an unprecedented 4th consecutive failed rainy season with forecasts that the following rainy season may also fail.
These extreme weather events driven by climate change are compounded by (i) conflict, (ii) political instability, (iii) COVID-19, and (iv) the impact of the war in Ukraine on food, fuel, and fertiliser prices.
EU humanitarian funding is helping aid organisations in Somalia assist those in need.
What are the needs?
Over 7.7 million people require humanitarian assistance, including hundreds of thousands at risk of famine.
In November 2021, Somalia declared a state of emergency because of the drought. After 4 consecutive failed rainy seasons, nearly half of the country is experiencing extreme drought conditions. Alongside global forecasts for a continuation of La Niña weather conditions, an unprecedented 5th failed rainy season is now looming, increasing the risk of famine.
Over 7 million people are currently affected by the drought – almost 50% of the population.
1.1 million Somalis have left their homes due to the drought, searching for water, food, and medical aid. With limited access to assistance, they live in unsanitary makeshift camps together with the 2.9 million previously displaced by conflict and extreme weather events.
Acute food insecurity has drastically worsened since the beginning of 2022, and 7.1 million people are experiencing the food crisis. The malnutrition rate among children is critically high, with over 2.4 million children under 5 years old who are acutely malnourished.
Protracted armed conflict in Somalia continues to severely impact civilians and the movement of people and goods in the country. The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine is further stressing global food supply chains and fuel prices, including in Somalia.
As needs outpace response, a scale-up of humanitarian assistance is urgently required to respond to the drought and displacement and avoid preventable deaths. A major drought in 2011/12 led to the deaths of an estimated 256,000 people.
How are we helping?
In 2022, the EU is allocating €79.5 million for humanitarian projects in Somalia, mainly responding to the ongoing drought.
This comes on top of €18.5 million that the EU had allocated in December 2021 in response to the drought. The EU and its Member States provide over 35% of all humanitarian aid in Somalia.
EU humanitarian funding supports aid organisations in delivering (i) food assistance, (ii) basic health and nutrition services, (iii) clean water, (iv) protection, (v) shelter, and (vi) education.
Our humanitarian partners work in rural and hard-to-reach areas to ensure no one is left behind. They also work to mitigate further displacement of rural populations while providing essential lifesaving assistance also in already congested urban and peri-urban areas hosting those displaced.
Whenever relevant, EU humanitarian support helps people in need through cash transfers. This enables them to feed and sustain their family while also covering other basic needs. In addition, using cash transfers helps overcome accessibility challenges while supporting local markets.
Somalia has high child and maternal mortality rates, severe malnutrition rates, and frequent disease outbreaks. The country’s health system also faces critical shortages, and only 1/3 of health facilities are functional.
There is currently an increase in disease outbreaks in the country, especially acute watery diarrhoea, cholera, and suspected measles outbreaks. This is due to the ongoing drought, limited access to clean water and hygiene, and unsanitary living conditions in displacement camps. All these diseases are potentially deadly.
Therefore, the EU focuses on providing quality health care, epidemics prevention and control, and emergency treatment of malnutrition. We support experienced health and nutrition partners in local health centres and hospitals.
The EU has committed an additional €450,000 of humanitarian funding to support the fight against life-threatening measles outbreaks in Somalia. This intervention builds on previous efforts this year in support of measles vaccination in Somalia, under the steer of the Ministry of Health, together with other humanitarian health partners.
The EU also funds disaster risk reduction and preparedness activities through community-based early warning, preparedness, and response systems. The aim is to reduce the impact of weather events like floods and droughts, notably along the Shabelle river basin.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, EU-funded humanitarian projects in Somalia have adapted to help beneficiaries and staff keep safe while providing life-saving assistance. EU humanitarian partners also ensured surveillance, detection, and response to COVID-19 transmission.
The EU has also supported the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns as part of the EU’s humanitarian initiative in Africa. These actions complement ongoing efforts by the Ministry of Health of Somalia and are implemented in line with the COVID-19 country preparedness and response plan for Somalia.
The EU organized 3 Humanitarian Air Bridge flights to Somalia in 2020, transporting much-needed health equipment to humanitarian partners. These operations occurred when global transport and freight halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July 2022, the EU launched another Humanitarian Air Bridge to deliver emergency supplies to hard-to-reach areas no longer accessible by road. This operation will transport life-saving nutrition and health assistance to underserved and hard-to-reach locations during the most critical dry period.
In 2020 and 2021, the EU also provided €17.5 million in humanitarian aid to help tackle the locust outbreak in the Horn of Africa and protect the livelihoods of affected farmers and pastoralists in Somalia.
Still, the country needs more long-term development to prevent vulnerable people, such as pastoral and agricultural communities, from sliding back into crisis. Cooperation between the EU’s humanitarian and development actions is ongoing, especially for cash-based social safety nets and education, to build up the longer-term resilience of fragile Somali communities.
Last updated: 28/10/2022
Facts & figures
More than 7.7 million people need humanitarian assistance and 7.1 million are facing crisis or worse food insecurity (OCHA)
1 in 7 children dies before turning 5 (UNICEF)
3.6 million internally displaced people (OCHA)
More than 667,000 Somali refugees in neighbouring countries (UNHCR)
EU humanitarian funding:
€79.5 million in 2022
nearly €476 million since 2017