Decades of conflict, recurrent climate shocks, disease outbreaks and increasing poverty are devastating the people of Somalia. Despite progress in recent years, the compounding impacts of these shocks continue to erode coping strategies and undermine resilience against future crises.
Context, Shocks/Events, and Impact of the Crisis
In 2021, the country faced heightened political tensions, at times associated violence, in the context of a delayed electoral process and power struggles at the leadership level. In southern and central Somalia, conflict and insecurity spiked, driving cycles of displacement, disruptions to livelihood activities, and constraints on trade and humanitarian access. Increased competition for natural resources and economic rents generated conflict at the local and sub-clan level.
Conflict and insecurity have forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes in 2021 and are expected to remain key drivers of displacement in 2022. Conflict-induced shocks exacerbate the humanitarian situation of both IDP and host communities, with increased numbers of children married earlier as a coping strategy. Humanitarian access is hampered by ongoing hostilities and movement and security restrictions.
Somalia remains on the frontline of climate change, which continues to induce crises resulting in widespread displacement, rapid urbanization, food insecurity, and increased poverty. Critically, climate change is also increasingly understood as a major driver of conflict in Somalia as the struggle for dwindling resources intensifies clan divisions and inter-clan conflict. At the time of writing, the country is forecast to experience its third consecutive season of below-average rainfall, which has already resulted in a sharp increase in food insecurity, especially in rural areas. Without humanitarian assistance, nearly 3.5 million are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes through the end of 2021.
There is a serious risk that the combined impact of consecutive seasons of below-average to poor rainfall can develop into a major drought by early to mid-2022. At the same time, large parts of Somalia remain prone to severe riverine and flash flooding. Somalia was among the countries hardest hit by the worst desert locust upsurge in decades that started in 2019. Although infestation levels declined in 2021 as a result of intensive control operations and low rainfall, a risk to rural livelihoods across the country remains.
COVID-19 has also impacted the country’s fragile health systems, with a resurgence of cases and documented infections in the first quarter of 2021. The lack of trained health workers, poor health infrastructure and a low development index have made Somalis vulnerable to outbreaks of other diseases as well, including cholera, measles, polio and acute watery diarrhea (AWD).
The combined impact of these recurring stress factors has deepened and widened poverty in Somalia, compounded pre-existing vulnerabilities, and continued to impact economic, business, education and livelihood outcomes. The economic and humanitarian consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020-2021 have been significant.
Displacement continues to have a major impact on, and be a significant coping strategy in the humanitarian crisis in Somalia. Amid ongoing shocks, Somali cities are receiving large waves of forcibly displaced people and rural-urban migrants, leading to increased land prices and competition for resources. Property disputes in neighborhoods where real estate is a prized and scarce commodity are a major source of violence, evictions, and communal tension along clan lines.
Minority clan members and minority ethnic groups experience structural and distinct forms of exclusion and discrimination with elevated needs that are different from the population at large. In addition, protracted conflict, structural gender inequality and successive humanitarian crises.
Scope of Analysis
The 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview covered all 74 districts of Somalia using a sequenced and thematic joint analysis process using 20 primary data sources and secondary data. The analysis found no significant changes in the scope compared to 2021 findings. The main groups covered in the analysis were (i) IDPs; (ii) non-displaced people, including individuals living in urban and rural settings, and areas with high access constraints; (iii) refugees and asylum seekers; and (iv) refugee returnees.
Humanitarian Conditions, Severity and People in Need
A total of 7.7 million Somali women, men and children are estimated to require humanitarian assistance in 2022.
With 2.9 million people estimated to be internally displaced throughout the country, Somalia has one of the highest numbers of IDPs in the world. Of these, 2.2 million require urgent humanitarian assistance. IDPs are chronically more food insecure and vulnerable than host communities. Displacements are typically rural-urban in nature, where displaced people moving into urban centres often lack the skills required for urban livelihoods, and IDPs and rural migrants are frequently confined to poor-paying unskilled jobs, if any at all. Furthermore, the majority of the IDPs have no official documentation for the – mostly privatelyowned - land on which they reside, exposing them to repeated evictions.
Rural areas have a lower prevalence of basic services, which mostly affects non-displaced communities. A total of 5.5 million vulnerable non-displaced people are projected to need humanitarian assistance in 2022. As with IDPs, their needs are driven by pre-existing vulnerabilities, as well as recurring multiple shocks. Poverty is pervasive, particularly in rural areas and areas where access remains a challenge, and the current estimates of 71 per cent of the population living below the poverty line are expected to remain at similar levels for 2022-23.
According to UNHCR’s projections, the total number of refugees and asylum seekers will stand at 30,800, and refugee returnees at 132,117, in 2022. Although the overall protection environment for refugees and asylum seekers in Somalia remains favourable, these groups need humanitarian support, with many struggling to access the limited and, in some cases, non-existent essential basic services and resources necessary to meet their needs. Refugee returnees are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of insecurity, conflict, drought, and floods, as well as COVID-19.
In 2022, the groups of most at risk of being left behind are IDPs due to their status and experience of protracted or multiple displacements, children in adversity, adolescent girls between the ages of 12 to 19 years, older persons, persons with disabilities, persons with minority clan affiliations, and marginalised communities.