Working together for a prosperous and peaceful Somalia
01 June 2023
After five consecutive seasons with less rainfall than expected, Somalia is facing a climatic event not seen in its recorded history.
The current drought, one of the longest and most severe in Somalia, reflects the accelerating pace of climate change across the region. The impact on communities has been devastating.1.4 million people have been internally displaced and forced to leave their homes. An estimated 8.25 million people – nearly half of Somalia’s population – now require immediate lifesaving humanitarian and protection assistance in order to survive. On top of this, the moderate rains received in March of this year have led to flash flooding, affecting 175, 000 people, of whom 130,000 have been displaced.
Aside from recurrent drought and climate induced emergencies, Somalia is facing other deep-rooted yet interlinked challenges, including violent conflict, corruption, poverty and rising numbers of internal displacement. For the Resident Coordinator and the UN country team, breaking these chronic cycles of crises and tackling the root causes of displacement, insecurity and climate induced emergencies and support Somalia’s development ambitions been a key overarching priority.
Central to these efforts is the recognition that none of these challenges can be addressed in isolation; but rather require a cross-pillar approach – in order words ensuring that the UN’s humanitarian interventions in Somalia are closely aligned with development planning and measures to protect human security.
So how was this put into practice on the ground?
1. Joint action through taskforces
In 2020, the United Nations in Somalia set up a series of taskforces to address the three priority areas of Climate Adaptation and Water Management – Droughts and Floods, Durable Solutions for Displacement-Affected Communities and Anti-Fraud and Anti-Corruption. These taskforces aim to better coordinate humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding actors, both within and outside the UN, through programmatic support and improved information-sharing.
The Water Management Taskforce for example, brings different UN entities in Somalia together to find joint solutions to drought and flood management, including mapping out critical water sources and planning for a short, medium, and long-term response. In addition to this, thanks to the support from the UN, the government launched the National Coordination Facility in March 2023 which provides a platform for all actors to come together to implement the goals of the National Water Resources Strategy and strengthen Somalia’s leadership on water management.
2. Localize the SG’s Action Agenda on Internal Displacement
Somalia is one of the 16 UN Member States selected to pilot the Action Agenda on Internal Displacement, an overarching roadmap launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2022, to resolve, prevent and address internal displacement crises around the world. This year, the Resident Coordinator’s Office has convened the UN country team and relevant partners to discuss how to implement the agenda locally and tackle the specific factors driving internal displacement in the country.
As part of these efforts, the UN country team launched a flagship project ‘Saameynta’ in March 2022 which pools expertise and resources from the UN and partners to support internally displaced families find permanent homes. Through this intervention, local authorities are now better placed to address urban displacement and support the development of new policies on land ownership to reduce the risk of forced eviction while improving the access to land for IDPs.
To compliment these efforts, the UN country team is also supporting national authorities implement the National Durable Solutions Strategy which emphasizes the need to build partnerships and alliances in order to find localized and area-specific solutions, including ensuring access to sustainable livelihoods and employment, protection against eviction and access to the justice system.
3. Harnessing the potential of young people
With an estimated 75 percent of its population under the age of 35, Somalia has a young population which is helping boost the resilience of communities through innovative entrepreneurship. Young people’s contributions are leading to a vibrant private sector, the expansion of digital literacy and the inclusion of more women in the country’s economic, social and political life. Harnessing the potential of young people represents a critical step in Somalia’s path towards peace and prosperity, and key priority for the UN country team.
This is why an 18-member UN Somalia Youth Advisory Board was established as a mechanism to improve the relevance, mobilization, and outreach efforts of different UN initiatives among young people in Somalia and help agencies improve their response to the needs of the young people across the country.
4.Tackle insecurity and corruption
Alongside efforts to scale-up climate adaptation and find local solutions to displacement, the UN country team has also focused on tackling the pervasive issue of corruption. Through the Anti-Fraud & Anti-Corruption Taskforce, the UN is promoting a multi‐stakeholder dialogue aimed at addressing corruption-related concerns within the UN family and providing guidance to the Government and other stakeholders. The taskforce is also engaged with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to link its financial support to Somalia with conditionality that encourages transparency and integrity.
Beyond this, the UN has played a critical role in helping Somalia accede in 2021 to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument.
The UN is also supporting different Somali stakeholders follow the steps of the ‘Implementation Review Mechanism’ (IRM); a key driver of institutional change which ensures that UNCAC’s standards are effectively implemented.
Looking ahead, this cross-pillar approach will continue to guide the work of the UN in Somalia; offering an effective framework to deliver on the commitments set out in the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF), and help realize the collective aspirations of the Government’s ninth National Development Plan, in particular capitalizing on the country’s improved security situation and the entrepreneurial spirit of its young population.
Most importantly, this approach ensures that no matter the scale of future challenges, the needs of people and planet will remain at the very centre.