Before the first case of COVID-19 was officially confirmed on 16 March 2020, Somalia was in a state of emergency resulting from the worst locust infestation in 25 years. With food supplies already under threat, the infestation was exacerbated by heavy floods, which not only displaced half a million people, but also provided ideal conditions for the locusts to flourish. Since then, Somalia has confirmed 4,301 cases and 107 deaths as a result of COVID-19. Ranked 194th of 195 countries on the Global Health Security Index, Somalia is among the countries least equipped to detect and respond to epidemics. The ratio of health workers per 100,000 people is just 2, far below the global standard of 25, and there are only 15 ICU beds available for a population of over 15 million people.
The cumulative impact of previous climate- and conflict-related shocks, as well as the more recent socio-economic impact of the pandemic have left 5.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance across Somalia. Between July and September 2020, 1.3 million people were facing high levels of acute food insecurity– a number which is expected to increase to 2.1 million by the end of the year, in the absence of humanitarian assistance.
To better understand affected people’s perceptions of the pandemic and to inform the rapidly evolving humanitarian response, Ground Truth Solutions surveyed 1,533 aid recipients across 17 of the 18 Somali regions from 7 to 22 September 2020. Survey respondents told us:
- They need more information on available aid and how to access it. Aid recipients also identified understanding how to access healthcare as an information gap, along with information on symptoms, testing, and treatment for COVID-19. As the response grapples with competing needs, less than half of the respondents feel informed about available aid and services.
- Respondents’ ability to meet their most important needs has worsened over the last six months. Cash and voucher assistance (CVA) and remittances have declined for most people and stopped completely for others. The majority of respondents say they are unable to meet their most important needs with the aid they receive. They identified better access to CVA, food, and healthcare as solutions.
- They are divided over whether aid providers take their opinions into account. Despite this division, the majority of respondents still say aid providers treat them with respect and feel able to report instances of abuse and mistreatment.
- They feel that aid largely goes to those who need it most, but they do not understand how aid agencies decide who receives aid.
There is a positive correlation between respondents feeling informed, being able to meet their most important needs, and believing that aid agencies take their opinions into account. However, respondents in Puntland and Somaliland are less positive on a number of questions than those in South-Central Somalia. Respondents’ status and the type of assistance they receive also shows slight but consistent effects: displaced respondents and those who receive only in-kind aid are less positive than residents affected by crisis and CVA recipients.
This is the fourth survey Ground Truth Solutions has carried out in Somalia since 2017 – data collection took place in 2017, the second in 2018, and the third in 2019. In line with previous efforts, these findings will be used to inform humanitarian programming and provide metrics for monitoring objectives in the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).