Posts

Examining Human Trafficking in SomaliaHuman trafficking is the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain labor or a commercial sex act. Today, human trafficking is a modern term for slavery. Mayumi Ueno, the counter-trafficking project manager at the International Office for Migration (IOM)’s Somalia Support Office, said the scale of human trafficking in Somalia is unknown. Somal women are often trafficked to Kenya, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates to be sexually exploited.

How Human Trafficking in Somalia Happens

Every day, Najib Jama Abdi’s sister got up and walked to school. One day, she did not return. The Abdi family heard from the media that she had been trafficked to Somaliland. “By Allah’s mercy she was saved,” said Najib Jama Abdi to The New Humanitarian. Organizations like the Somali Police Force’s criminal investigations division 40-officer Counter-Trafficking and Organized Crime Unit work to rescue girls who have been kidnapped off the street and sold into human trafficking, like Abdi’s sister.

Human Trafficking in Somalia is a widespread issue. Women and girls are sometimes lied to and offered job opportunities, marriage or education in far-away places and then sold into sex slavery. In 2009, IOM began the Counter-Trafficking Project for Somalia. In Puntland and Somaliland, its activities included promoting awareness and informing citizens of the risks and dangers of being trafficked through media such as billboards.

History of Trafficking in Somalia

For decades, military dictator Siad Barre committed widespread atrocities, which effectively destroyed Somali civil society. Then, in May 1991, Barre was overthrown. The east desert region of Somalia declared itself the “Republic of Somaliland” after the overthrow of Barre. Somaliland now has a population of 3.5 million people, a functional political system, its own currency and a police force.

Before 1991, the federal and regional laws criminalized slave labor and certain forms of sex trafficking. Then, after Barre was overthrown, No progress was reported again until September 2017, when a human trafficking law was drafted and endorsed by Somaliland.

What’s Happening Now

Officials said they are concerned about the increasing amount of human trafficking in Somalia, specifically in the region of Somaliland. This region lies in the south-central region of Somalia. As a result, the lack of government in Somaliland makes child trafficking easier for traffickers to get away with. In November 2017, the city-state of Puntland in northeastern Somalia made valid a human trafficking legislative framework. It was made of new criminal procedures, penal codes and laws that specifically prohibit trafficking. The authorities recorded two trafficking cases that involved six individuals in 2020, during the period the U.S. government reported on the issue.

The Trafficking and Smuggling Task Force was the government’s anti-trafficking coordinating body. However, slow steps are being taken by the government to mitigate human trafficking in Somalia. Nevertheless, new anti-trafficking initiatives are moving in the right direction to end human trafficking in Somalia.

Madeline Drayna
Photo: Flickr 

Outbreak of Locusts in Somalia Predicted to be Worse in 2021In the past several decades, Somalia has faced a variety of challenges, including foreign imperialism, religious extremism and a struggling infrastructure system. Literacy and education have long been areas of concern, as has access to food, water and healthcare. In 1991, President Muhammed Siad Barre was overthrown, and the country descended into civil war with various political and military factions vying for control of the country. Peacekeeping groups from the U.S. and the United Nations attempted to restore a central government and restrain violence, but they were met with opposition and eventually left, unsuccessful, in 1993.

A Destabilized Country and Poverty

There have since been many attempts to create a functioning national government, but for years progress stalled. The Islamic extremist group Al-Shabab gained momentum in the mid-2000s, causing huge amounts of violence and destruction in the region. They attacked national infrastructure, and at various points forced agencies who had been providing aid to withdraw. These tactics caused thousands to die, displaced thousands more and destroyed access to healthcare and education for many.

Human Rights Watch estimated in 2018 that over 2.5 million people were internally displaced, and agencies providing relief faced continued attacks and the inability to access those who need help. According to the World Bank, the poverty rate in Somalia today is roughly 70%, and “almost nine of 10 Somali households are deprived of at least one fundamental dimension: access to income, electricity, education or water and sanitation.” Life expectancy is low as well, figured to be roughly 53 years for men and 57 for women. These issues are both caused and compounded by the constant violence; the civil war deprived many of access to necessities like food and housing, and it continues to be a daily worry even with other equally pressing needs.

Locusts and Food Security

It is against this backdrop that Somalia is currently dealing with a plague of epic proportions. Every year, there is an outbreak of locusts in Somalia and neighboring countries, and locals are accustomed to their presence on some level. However, 2020 is entirely different: Warming temperatures and increased flooding over the last several years created ideal conditions for locusts to breed and reproduce, leading to two separate waves of locusts this year alone. By all accounts, this invasion is the worst in 25 years, decimating a country that was already ill-equipped to deal with a disaster.

The first infestation of locusts in Somalia numbered in the hundreds of billions, blotting out the sky and destroying crops, farmland and any other vegetation they found. The second was even more devastating—trillions of locusts descended on East Africa and wiped out any chance of a successful harvest. The LA Times reports, “In a single day, a swarm can travel nearly 100 miles and eat its own weight in leaves, seeds, fruits and vegetables—as much as 35,000 people would consume. A typical swarm can stretch over 30 square miles.” It is nearly impossible to deal with them individually, and a lack of centralized response has left farmers to fend for themselves in an attempt to mitigate economic loss and save what they can of the most recent crop yield.

These waves of locusts ruined economic prospects for many Somali citizens, and left many in debt, unable to sell their harvest or participate in the local economy. The U.N. Food and Agriculture division estimates that 100% of sorghum and maize—both vital to the Somali economy—were affected or harmed by the infestation. Experts also worry that they will return in the spring of 2021 if allowed to continue breeding and growing to maturity unchecked. The unprecedented quantities this year make it difficult to contain, and there is now only a short window in which to act. Avoiding another round will require a timely and focused response.

Moving Forward

The good news is that there are tangible solutions, and possibilities remain for Somalia to revitalize their economy and recover from this devastation. Pesticides are proven to contain the insects, and the challenge now is to deploy them in high enough quantities that it might have a tangible effect. Currently, Somalia lacks the political will and infrastructure to supply enough planes to be useful, but the U.N. FAO has been meeting with both West African and European countries in an attempt to gather the resources necessary to fight the locusts.

Scientists have been working to develop a worthy biopesticide over the past decade, and there is now a working product that’s “cheaper, more effective, longer-lasting in the desert and easier to store,” according to Science Magazine. Somali politicians and leading experts in the field from around the world have been working to provide relief, and although locusts in Somalia have not been seen like this in many years, there are reasons to be hopeful, given the scenario. If aerial spraying becomes financially viable and available, it could provide significant relief and a renewed opportunity for those who have been affected.

One FAO official commented, “We’re already partnering with NASA, with NOAA, with the European Space Agency, with Cambridge University… all of these different entities have their own expertise.” Ultimately, a solution to locusts in Somalia is within reach—and it requires a combination of pesticides, more accurate predictors of future outbreaks and cheaper methods of delivery for needed chemicals. If this can be achieved, it would be critical in the fight for food and job security in the country, allowing the economy to flourish and crops to grow.

– Leo Posel
Photo: Flickr

BECO’s Solar Power, Bringing Cheaper, Cleaner Energy to SomaliaIn June 2020, Somalia’s largest electricity provider, BECO, announced the opening of a new solar power plant in the capital city of Mogadishu. BECO is the only company that provides electricity for Mogadishu, Afgooye, Balad, Barawe, Kismayu, Marka, Jowhar and Elasha. Although the company turned to solar power primarily to cut down on the cost of diesel fuel, its decision will have the added benefit of lowering air pollution. Additionally, BECO’s solar power plant will grow in capacity over time and lower electricity bills. BECO’s solar power plant could have a significant impact on Somalis, lifting many out of poverty.

Electricity in Somalia

Lack of access to electricity is widely cited as a large contributor to poverty. Without electricity, families don’t have a non-polluting source of energy for cooking. Refrigerators are unusable. Children can’t do their homework after dark. Communities can’t access all that the Internet offers for education and upward mobility. Hospitals and schools can’t offer full services. As a result, increasing access to electricity is often a goal of development efforts.

Somalia has particularly struggled with a lack of access to electricity. Before the civil war broke out in 1991, Somalia had a national power grid that produced 70 megawatts (MW) of electricity for the whole country. But the power grid was destroyed during the war and private corporations now provide any electricity available to residents. Currently, BECO produces 35 MW of power for eight cities, which is much less than its demand of 200 MW. Many Somalis avoid using electricity in order to avoid the monthly costs as 69% of Somalis are currently living in poverty.

Power companies in Somalia heavily rely on imported fossil fuels for diesel-powered generators. These generators are CO2 emitters and can heavily pollute the air. Despite the widespread use of generators, Somalia has only 106 MW of power nationwide, according to the United States Agency on International Development. The World Bank reported in 2018 that 64% of Somalis didn’t have access to electricity.

BECO’s Solar Power Plant

Because Somalia struggles with a lack of electricity and high electric costs, BECO’s new solar power plant has the potential to positively impact many people’s lives. When it opened, the power plant had the capacity to produce 8 MW. The solar power plant is only in use four hours a day, with BECO’s preexisting generators providing the rest of the electricity that the city needs. But residents’ electric bills have already gone down.

With the addition of the solar power plant, electricity costs in Mogadishu have already dropped from $0.49 to $0.36 per kilowatt-hour. BECO had originally decided to invest in solar power because of the high cost of importing diesel fuel for generators. By cutting costs, the company can offer cleaner energy at a more affordable price.

BECO plans to invest $40 million to bring the plant’s capacity to 100 MWp by 2022. This increase would enable the power plant to produce more electricity than twice its current output. However, the success of the solar plant will depend on battery storage.

Somalia’s Potential Future with Renewable Energy

BECO’s solar power plant is just the first step in Somalia’s possible path toward renewable energy. The African Development Bank reported in a study that Somalia had a greater potential for renewable energy than any other country in Africa. Onshore wind power could produce up to 45,000 MW of electricity. Solar energy has the potential to produce 2,000 kWh/m². If other Somali electric companies follow BECO’s example, Somalia’s electrical production could increase many times over.

It’s fortunate that in Somalia’s case, solar power is more affordable than the alternative. Simple market forces might solve Somalis’ lack of access to electricity. Although constructing facilities to produce solar power is expensive, companies would be able to provide electricity more cheaply and easily if they switch from importing fossil fuels to renewable energy. As a result of this cost decrease, electric bills would drop considerably as well. Once electricity becomes significantly cheaper, more Somalis will be able to access its benefits. BECO’s solar power plant is already reducing costs, and there’s no reason to believe that this trend won’t continue.

– Sarah Brinsley
Photo: Flickr


Somalia is a country located on the horn of Africa, with a population of almost 14 million people. Although women and girls in Somalia consist of 50% of the country’s population, women and men are far from equal. Globally, Somalia places fourth highest on the gender inequality index. In Somalia, gender inequality is exacerbated by poverty, disability, social class and harmful practices that violate the rights of women and girls. Today, women in Somalia are susceptible to gender-based violence and sexual violence, an issue that is heightened in areas of conflict.

Genital Mutilation in Somalia

Common problems that perpetuate gender inequality in Somalia include female genital mutilation, child marriage, maternal mortality rates and a lack of access to fundamental tools for success, such as education, healthcare, credit and more. Women in Somalia, especially adolescent girls are susceptible to undergo genital mutilation. Often, these girls undergo this before they turn 13 years old, according to a 2013 report by the World Health Organization. Somalia has the highest rate of genital mutilation, with 98% of girls subjected to it. With the upsurge in coronavirus cases, girls in Somalia are forced to stay home. This leads to higher rates of genital mutilation. According to the United Nations Population Fund, the coronavirus could contribute to two million more instances of genital mutilation over the next decade that could have been stopped. Although genital mutilation remains legal in Somalia, the practice has no health benefits and harms women in girls in a plethora of ways, as it poses health risks and robs women of the full capacity of their reproductive organs.

Maternal Mortality in Somalia

Another issue plaguing Somalia that perpetuates gender inequality is the maternal mortality rate, which is the highest of any country in the world. For children in Somalia, four in 100 infants die within the first month of their lives. Women in Somalia suffer from these high rates of maternal mortality due to poor healthcare infrastructure within the country and a lack of access to adequate services. In the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda, the central principle is “leaving no one behind”. This commitment from the United Nations involves prioritizing the rights, access and abilities that women in Somalia have.

Lack of Education and Leadership

For women in Somalia, there is a lack of women involved in political and social leadership roles. One of the reasons behind this is a lack of education. In Somalia, primary schools have one of the lowest rates of enrollment, with only 30% of children in school. Of the children in school, less than half of them are females. For girls living in rural areas, these numbers are lower. Compared to men, women in Somalia have much lower literacy levels. In Somalia, only 26% of women can read, compared to 36% of men.

The Future for Women in Somalia

Somalia remains a state of male power but there is hope that the country will become more focused on gender equality. The Somali Provisional Constitution, created in 2012, is being revised. In 2021, the country is participating in a one-person-one-vote election. With the future revision of the Somali constitution, there is opportunity for empowering women and girls across the country by implementing gender equality provisions. It is hopeful that 2021 may promise more widespread opportunities for women and girls in the country.

– Caitlin Calfo
Photo: Flickr


Somalia faces a constant struggle for enough resources to feed the entire population. Millions of citizens throughout Somalia suffer from hunger and poverty. Somalia is located in an area that suffers from extreme droughts and experienced one in late 2019. Droughts throughout Somalia leave millions of people without proper resources, as animals and crops go without proper nutrition to ensure food for citizens. However, Somalia, and Africa as a whole, are dealing with a more destructive problem this year. Locusts are impacting both the economy and the issue of starvation in Somalia, with millions and maybe even billions of insects flying across the continent. For a country that is currently dealing with hunger and poverty issues, locusts and their growth could be extremely detrimental to Somalia.

The Second Wave of Locusts in Somalia

According to recent studies and developments, there is currently a second wave of locusts swarming throughout Somalia and Africa. The second wave has the potential to be more harmful to the economy of Somalia because it is occurring during harvest season. The harvesting of crops is a positive thing for the citizens who continue to lack food and resources. Millions of locusts can cause enough damage to crops to equate to feeding a small population city. Furthermore, Somalia has not experienced a plague of locusts as strong as this one in about 25 years.

Additionally, COVID-19 is making this plague more damaging for Somalia and the citizens. The combination of both events will cause over 25 million Africans to not have proper food resources throughout the remainder of the year.

All Hands-on Deck Approach to Locusts in Somalia

To ensure that the effect on locusts on the economy and starvation in Somalia is minimal, the government has decided to join with the organization Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This partnership includes efforts to control and stop the growth and spread of locusts around Somalia and Africa. The control of this plague ensures that Somalia does not take a dramatic and harmful hit to the economy. It would also protect citizens from food shortages.

The Somalian government depends on communities to assist with controlling the spread as well. These efforts include using ground and air vehicles to spray pesticides on developing eggs and locusts flying throughout affected areas. Thirty ground vehicles are being used to control spread and growth. These vehicles can destroy eggs and developing locusts which are not able to fly. Additionally, in May, two helicopters were brought in to help control flying locusts and cover widely affected areas. So far, FAO has covered over 197,000 acres of land throughout Somalia and plans to cover over 444,000 acres by the end of 2020. Going forward, FAO will conduct similar control efforts. This plan also has the possibility to take care of any future swarms of locusts that may occur.

Looking Forward

Somalia, and Africa, continue to struggle with locusts swarming and developing. The locusts have had a negative effect on the economy and starvation in Somalia. The country already has millions of citizens who lack the proper amount of daily food resources. Additionally, Somalia has experienced droughts that have changed the economic outlook of the country in recent years. Adding the plague of locusts into the equation will only continue to damage food resources in Somalia, especially since they are arriving during harvest season. However, the Somalian government has decided to address this problem by working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This organization created control efforts to stop the growth and development of locusts. FAO has covered massive amounts of Somalian land with control efforts and plans to continue covering more land throughout 2020.

– Jamal Patterson 
Photo: Flickr

tuberculosis in SomaliaTuberculosis is a disease caused by bacteria that spreads through the air. While it can also be spread through the consumption of unpasteurized milk contaminated with the bacteria, the most prevalent form of the TB infection is pulmonary TB. In rare cases, TB can also affect the lymphatic system, central nervous system, urogenital region, joints and bones.

In Somalia, one of the world’s most poverty-stricken nations, less than half of estimated cases of TB are detected. Not all tuberculosis strains are equal, making diagnosis and treatment more difficult. While antibiotics typically treat TB, studies have shown that the prevalence of drug-resistant TB has increased. Somalia has a recent history of a tumultuous political climate, exacerbating obstacles that might prevent the delivery of efficient healthcare, like fund allocation and accessibility.

Diagnosis

In a cultural profile of Somalia conducted in 2006, many believed the disease was spread through airborne particles resulting from coughing or sneezing. These same people often believed that the contraction of TB also comes from a variety of things including it being inherited or the result of a loss of faith, creating stigmas around the disease.

Many people distinguished TB from other ailments with respiratory symptoms through weight loss and the presence of blood in the mucus. Until these symptoms are found in addition to an existing cough, it is assumed to be a chest infection. In cases when a fever is apparent, some confuse TB with malaria.

While the primary symptoms (cough, weight loss and bloody mucus) follow the same way the west symptomatically views TB, Somalians understand the progression of symptoms and the disease a little differently. For example, they separate coughing as a symptom into different phases based on the nature of the cough. They focus on whether or not chest pains accompany a cough, or how it sounds. Based on what phase the symptom is in, it might dictate different treatment plans.

Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

As of 2011, 5% of first-time infected tuberculosis patients had a drug-resistant strain of TB. In comparison, 41% of previously infected patients had this more robust form of TB. These strains are resistant to several drugs used in the treatment of TB. This resulted in the highest recorded instances of multidrug-resistant TB in Africa at the time.

World Vision

World Vision is a global poverty mitigating initiative with boots-on-the-ground efforts. The organization provides healthcare resources, clean water and education to impoverished communities around the world.

Partnering with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the organization has created 33 tuberculosis grants valued at a total of $160.6 million. World Vision has been the primary recipient of tuberculosis grants in Somalia.

In Somalia, World Vision works to fight the frequency of tuberculosis and its drug resistance. With the help of the Global Fund, the organization has treated more than 115,000 people. Additionally, it has trained 132 health professionals in DOTS, the directly observed treatment, short course, as recommended by the WHO. The organization has also helped 30 laboratories with TB microscopy, which resulted in the national health authority documenting 6,505 cases. World Vision continues to strive to strengthen resources within Somalia so that the government and community have a better capacity in which to deal with TB.

– Catherine Lin 
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in SomaliaLack of access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is inextricably linked to extreme poverty around the globe. Somalia, a country located in the Horn of Africa, has long faced issues relating to WASH. Though Somalia struggles with WASH, some organizations have vastly improved sanitation in Somalia. The following are 10 facts about sanitation in Somalia.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Somalia

  1. Currently, only 52 percent of Somalia’s population has a water supply close to home. This impacts women and children especially since the chore of fetching water falls on them in this society. Women must trek miles in the hot sun to fill jugs of water. Mercy-USA has been working to tackle this water crisis since 1997. In addition, they have dug and repaired about 670 wells. As a result, more than 750,000 people in Somalia have access to safe drinking water.
  2. Only a quarter of Somalia’s population has access to improved sanitation facilities within 10 meters. Poor hygiene and sanitation practices due to a lack of access to proper sanitation facilities can lead to chronic/acute diarrhea, respiratory infections and cholera. Theses are life-threatening illnesses for some age groups. Just the past three years, more than 900 people in Somalia died from cholera. UNICEF is working to improve access to sanitation facilities. It provides integrated interventions that can reduce the incidences of these easily preventable diseases.
  3. Drought has increased the price of water, exacerbating the already dangerous situation. The recent drought in Somalia led to severe water shortages. This tripled the price of a barrel of water (200 liters) to $15. CARE responded to this drought by providing 10,000 people with access to water. Additionally, CARE distributed water purification tablets to areas most affected by the drought.
  4. In parts of Somalia, up to 60 percent of pastoralists’ herds were wiped out by drought. Recently, Somalia experienced a drought that had extremely adverse effects on the country’s pastoralist communities. As Somalia has a traditional agro-pastoral focus, this expected to severely impact the economy. The livestock sector accounts for 40 percent of GDP. Thankfully, “FAO reached 38.3 million animals in Somalia through animal health services.” This “provided more than 900,000 animals with supplementary feeding.” Additionally, it delivered more than 53 million liters of water to these animals in response to the urgent needs of these drought-stricken pastoralists.
  5. Action Against Hunger is providing hygiene education sessions to teach Somali communities about preventing disease. Diseases often spread due to inadequate knowledge surrounding hygienic practices. Action Against Hunger launched a cholera prevention program that provided communities with sessions on hygiene and sanitation. These sessions showed the importance of handwashing, properly disposing of trash and how to properly clean the toilets.
  6. About 37 percent of Somalia’s population defecate in the open, but this is changing. In rural parts of Somalia, open defecation is a common practice that can cause serious risks to public health. UNICEF is working with local partner HEAL in villages in Somalia to educate communities with the goal of ending this practice. Moreover, HEAL proved that simply educating these communities is quite effective. After UNICEF and HEAL provided these villages with technical assistance and ran awareness campaigns, many families used their own money to build latrines. Today 12 villages in Somaliland, two villages in Puntland and 25 villages in Somalia’s central and southern regions have achieved the status of “open defecation free.”
  7. Sanitation in Somali schools is improving. Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) addressed the need for functional toilets, hand-washing stations and waste disposal locations in Somali schools. PAH assessed schools in Somalia and identified five with the highest need for updates, one of which did not have a single running toilet. Additionally, PAH provided these schools with eight water kiosks. It rehabilitated existing facilities and built “20 triple latrine-blocks with hand-washing facilities.”
  8. Discussion groups are helping organizations understand how to improve Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in Somalia. In Somalia, menstruation continues to be a taboo. Many women only have access to cloth rags that restrict movement. The cloth rags are unsanitary because houses do not always have the ability to wash them regularly. ELRHA sent 2,000 MHM kits to various countries, including Somalia. Its plans are to follow up in one and three months to measure the appropriateness, effectiveness, acceptability and value of these kits as a humanitarian relief item.
  9. Piped water from UNICEF-EU installed tanks is giving children hope that they will be able to attend school in lieu of fetching water. A joint urban water project is installing water tanks on the outskirts of Somali towns and pipelines. In addition, it will bring this vital resource closer to their homes. Farrah, who is 13 years old, supports his family as a water vendor. Hopefully, once water is piped into his town, he will be able to go to school instead of traveling daily for water. Farrah mentioned that “I will go to school. […] I will carry books instead of jerrycans. And I will walk with my classmates instead of a donkey. It has always been my dream to wear a uniform and carry books.”
  10. In the last year, more than 49,000 people had to flee their homes in search of water and other necessities. This came after a drought in 2016 to 2017 that displaced more than one million people. As a result, the U.N. Refugee Agency has been working with partners and government agencies to help those affected and displaced by the drought. They provided emergency assistance to some of the most affected areas of Somalia.

Lack of sanitation is closely tied to poverty. People are unable to break the cycle of poverty when their basic needs are not met. Somalia is still far from achieving proper sanitation for all who inhabit the country. However, these facts about sanitation in Somalia prove that hope is not lost. With help from generous organizations around the world, sanitation can become accessible for all.

Hannah White

Photo: Flickr

Human Capital Investment in Somalia

Somalia is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. UNICEF estimates that 43 percent of the Somali population live on less than a dollar a day, while around half of the labor force is unemployed. Social unrest caused by a long civil warcoupled with weak institutions have contributed to devastatingly high levels of poverty in the region. One especially prominent effect of this has been the incredibly weak education system in Somalia. Only half of the Somali population is literate and in 2016, only 32 percent of Somali children were enrolled in school. This has undermined much of the government’s attempts to build successful anti-poverty initiatives, as economic development requires substantial improvements in the human capital development of Somalia.

Partnership with the World Bank

Somalia had previously been unable to attain a partnership with the World Bank, due to high levels of debt carrying over from previous World Bank loans. However, the ambitious economic reforms of the new Somali government which was established in 2012, offer hope for improvement, culminating in the new Country Partnership Framework established by the World Bank in 2018. The World Bank has dedicated its resources to aiding the Somali government in developing stronger institutions and economic growth, in line with the government’s National Development plan. As a result of the new partnership, the World Bank now accounts for 15 percent of total financing (around $28.5 million) for Technical and Vocational Education and Training programs in Somalia.

Human Capital Investments

These investments play a significant role in human capital development, as they offer an opportunity for Somalia to diversify its economy and offer the potential for granting individuals access to sustainable long-term income. This is especially true of the role that education plays, as creating a more educated population can be vital to ensuring continued economic growth, reducing the overall reliance on foreign aid. Improvements in human capital have the potential for massive returns. The World Bank estimates that human capital growth can produce a 10 to 30 percent increase in per-capita GDP, providing economic resilience, as well as developing the tools necessary to help lift a country out of poverty. 

Such programs can play a vital role in improving employer confidence and organizing effective human capital advances. While many other reforms may contribute to economic growth, it is important to note that since the World Bank began the partnership in 2018, the country’s GDP has grown by 0.7 percent.

Overall, by securing this partnership with the World Bank, Somalia is working toward major educational reforms to boost human capital development for this and future generations.

– Alexander Sherman
Photo: Flickr

water quality in SomaliaFor a country whose entire eastern border is an ocean, water quality in Somalia is a longstanding worry for the nation’s citizens. According to UNICEF Somalia’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) studies, of the nearly 15 million people living in Somalia, only 45 percent of them have access to clean water. Only one in four people have access to adequate sanitation facilities within a reasonable distance of their homes.

WASH has linked the lack of clean water and sanitation facilities to the rising disease rates in Somalia, most notably, the widespread prevalence of widespread waterborne diseases such as diarrhea that account for more than 20 percent of deaths of children under five. Additionally, the lack of clean water is heavily correlated to malnourishment, which over 300,000 children in Somalia are currently suffering from.

While having clean drinking water is imperative to survival, the disposal of wastewater (water used for cooking, bathing, sewage and other uses) is nearly as important to providing a safe and clean environment for Somalians to live in. Considering that the infrastructure to dispose of wastewater is severely lacking in Somalia, and the fact that most Somalians rely on rivers and rainwater for water (natural sources which are highly prone to contamination by wastewater), it is little surprise that so many Somalians lack adequate drinking water.

Estimates indicate that it would cost $1.5 billion to provide clean water to all Somalians that would not be dependent on weather patterns, droughts or possible contamination by wastewater. While by no means a small sum, it is also not an outrageous one, and one that is being decreased by efforts to improve Somalian irrigation techniques, harvesting and storing cleaner rainwater, as well as other methods to help Somalia use less water more efficiently.

These efforts, however, are only made tougher due to the twofold threat of the terrorist organization al-Shabaab, which controls much of rural Somalia, where the lack of clean water is felt most severely, and the harsh drought and famine that is currently sweeping the country. While food and water supplies are already running low, al-Shabaab puts up blockades and refuses to let aid workers assist the starving and thirsty people. In March, the Somali prime minister reported that over a hundred people had died as a result of the drought, and that number has likely only continued to worsen as concerns over the water quality in Somalia continue to linger.

Organizations such as UNICEF have stepped up to combat the water shortages by providing medical services and other necessities. Most pressingly, UNICEF was providing over 400,000 people with daily water as of early 2017. Members of the group hope and plan to increase that number fourfold and provide water vouches to well over a million people.

USAID has already committed more than $300 million towards humanitarian assistance in Somalia for 2017. Much of that money is devoted to assisting the UNICEF WASH programs and activities already underway; however, the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance has involved itself in an attempt to address the emergency caused by the drought through other initiatives. This assistance is key to helping those affected survive the droughts and allow time for more sustainable solutions to be put in place to improve the water quality in Somalia.

Erik Halberg

Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid to SomaliaSomalia is experiencing the country’s worst drought in 40 years which has led to a severe famine in the worst affected areas. The drought coupled with a ban on humanitarian assistance by Islamist group Al-Shabab has caused Somalia to be left in quickly deteriorating circumstances. Instances of violence, food shortages and the spread of many drought-related diseases have negatively affected the country and caused many people to be internally displaced.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported 975,000 displacements in Somalia with 82 percent, or 804,000 displacements, related to drought and its effects. The rest of the displacements are caused by conflicts and insecurities threatening the country.

According to the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU), the estimated number of people in need of humanitarian aid in Somalia has decreased from 6.7 million people to 6.2 million, which shows that the situation is improving. However, localized famine, daily violent attacks and the ongoing ban set in place by Al-Shabaab, which if broken leads to brutal punishments, make it hard for aid workers to provide assistance to people still in need. 

Aid workers have been highly targeted by Al-Shabaab and many of them are victims of abductions by armed militants. Al-Shabaab imposed the ban on humanitarian aid in Somalia in July 2017. The ban mostly covers areas under his control and has forced hundreds of thousands of people to choose between death from starvation or violent punishment. Communities were told by the militant group that they would experience extreme punishment if they called or had any contact with humanitarian agencies.

Even though aid officials and international human rights organizations have provided humanitarian aid to Somalia and saved many lives, conditions within the country are still deteriorating, with almost half of the population facing starvation if no help is received in the coming months.

After the deadly truck attack on October 14, Somalia needs help more than ever. USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance responded to the attack by providing $100,000 to a partner organization so that emergency medical supplies could be delivered to the 300 victims of the attack.

– Sarah Soutoul

Photo: Flickr