Somalia, located at the Horn of Africa, is a country with colorful and diverse traditions, but harsh conditions. Life is not only affected by the climate, but also the treacherous political environment. In this article, the top 10 facts about living conditions in Somalia are presented.
Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Somalia
- Somalia has four seasons, two rainy and two dry ones. These seasons are combined with some of the highest mean temperatures worldwide. These conditions make farming incredibly difficult, in fact, only 0.05 percent of the land is inhabited by permanent crops. Most agricultural employment takes place through livestock. Somalia is also a large exporter of bananas, sorghum, corn, coconuts and rice. However, without consistent trade, much of this has gone to waste and has created a famine.
- There is virtually no infrastructure in many parts of the country due to the ongoing civil war. This affects the ability of a community to access clean water. Only 34 percent of individuals have access to sanitation services and, because plumbing is uncommon in many rural areas, 50 percent of individuals in these areas practice open defecation. Currently, progress on this issue is created through building wells, as well as implementing community programs to improve sanitation. Mercy USA has built over 580 wells in order to improve water access in Somalia. The WASH program is implementing underground wells that are attached to solar-powered sanitation systems.
- Another one of the top 10 facts about living conditions in Somalia relates to clean water access and adequate health care facilities. In 2017, there were over 79,000 cases of acute watery diarrhea or cholera alone. Only 6 percent of Somali residents have access to antenatal doctor’s appointments. The transmission of infectious diseases is amplified by the nomadic tendencies of pastoral clans, and the presence of large refugee camps. The WHO and UNICEF have been able to decrease measles outbreaks by administering vaccines to over 45,000 children in these camps. Nearly 50 percent of children under the age of 1 have been vaccinated for this disease.
- Women and children face danger on a daily basis. Armed men often take sexually violent acts against women and girls without prosecution. Children are recruited and indoctrinated by the terrorist organization Al-Shabaab. Somalia is ranked as one of the worst five places to be a woman in the world due to the widespread practice of Sharia law and restriction of gender-based freedoms. There is also limited access to health care and the prevalence of human trafficking. The Somali federal government did implement an incredibly comprehensive Sexual Offences Bill in May 2018, the bill that criminalizes sexual offenses.
- According to the WHO, the average life expectancy of a Somali individual is 53 years. The average expectancy of an individual to live a healthy life is only 45 years. Due to a lack of access to health care services and adequate sanitation, most adults die of infectious disease. Upon birth, only 9 percent of women are attended by a health professional. Maternal, neonatal and nutritional deaths account for approximately 18,000 deaths across both genders.
- The federal government only controls part of the country and formal economic activity is limited to the urban areas. Businesses are scarce due to the probability of looting and high inflation. It is 137 percent more expensive to live in Mogadishu, country’s capital, than in Tokyo. The main income of the country is international trade, but constant civil discourse prohibits this sector from experiencing significant growth. The new Public Financial Management bill should increase the government’s revenue security and control of expenses.
- There are two seceded states in the north: Somaliland and Puntland created after the civil war. Constant border disputes between the three regions have created unrest and violence. Around 2.1 million individuals have been displaced by federal government evictions, random acts of violence and climatic conditions. Foreign aid has made efforts to provide assistance to displaced peoples, but Al-Shabaab placed sanction prohibiting humanitarian organizations.
- The split between Puntland, Somaliland and the Somali Republic causes constant border disputes. There is no judiciary system to solve these issues and these disputes devolve into violent attacks. The influx of pastoral clans and refugees into major cities and ports during the dry season cause looting and disease.
- The government provides exponentially less health assistance than nongovernmental organizations. Regions within WHO jurisdiction have nearly twice the utilization of health services than regions without it. Maternal and child mortality rates are also much lower in these areas. Less than 50 out of 1,000 children die versus approximately 150 out of 1,000 in regions without aid. The Somali federal government has increased spending on health care services and has had 88 percent of the population for tuberculosis tested in regions without organizations’ assistance.
- Around 2.1 million people have been displaced internally in refugee camps. The surrounding countries have placed sanctions on incoming peoples seeking asylum due to limited resources. Those seeking asylum are also unable to travel across the disputed borders of Somaliland and Puntland because of convoys along them. With large numbers of people moving around so sporadically, it is also hard to create a consistent source of nutrition.
Poverty and civil war are rampant issues that result in many consequences for Somalia. Humanitarian aid is the main source of help in improving living conditions for over 5.4 million people that are in desperate need. Between the assistance of these organizations and the growing effectiveness of the federal government, the people of Somalia may have a decent chance to live in a comfortable environment.
– Emily Triolet