2021 in Review
Humanitarian situation in 2021
In 2021, Somalia experienced a myriad of persistent and protracted humanitarian crises driven by alarming political instability, widespread insecurity and recurring climate disasters. Somalia also continued to address the emergency phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and its far-reaching aftershocks.
These perpetuated high levels of humanitarian needs, and protection concerns across the country particularly in Somaliland, Puntland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle and Jubaland states.
The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance increased from 5.9 million reported in February 2021, to 7.7 million people by the end of 2021, representing close to half of the country’s population.
Prolonged drought conditions
In 2021, Somalia was the most severely drought-affected country in the Horn of Africa. There were three consecutive failed rainy seasons, severe water shortages and rising food prices.
The October to December 2020 short rains, April to June 2021 long rains and October to December 2021 short rains began late, were erratic and ended prematurely. These negative rainfall anomalies, coupled with two dry seasons (December to March and July to September) resulted in hunger, malnutrition and increased poverty particularly among rural communities.
In February over 34 districts across Somalia faced alarming water shortages. The drought spread to 66 out of the country’s 74 districts by December, leaving over 3.2 million people in distress. Thousands of people abandoned their homes in search of water, food and pasture. Extreme drought, led to water scarcity, a spike in water and food prices and widespread livestock deaths. By mid-2021, 60 per cent of water catchments in Somalia had dried up and water prices had increased by almost 70 per cent in key drought hot spot districts in pockets of the country. These are Gedo, Galgaduud, Mudug, Puntland and Somaliland with severely drought-affected districts in Galmudug reporting an increase of up to 300 per cent, leaving millions of people dependent on water trucking.
Riverine and flash flooding
In late April and May heavy rains hit various parts of Somalia triggering riverine and flash flooding that affected 400,000 people in 14 districts. Over 100,000 people were displaced from their homes. In the hardest hit district of Jowar, more than 40,000 hectares of farmland was destroyed. The floods disrupted learning in 12 schools and damaged 82 per cent of WASH infrastructure. In most riverine areas, the heavy rains caused deaths, damaged crops and destroyed livelihood assets and economic infrastructure in some areas.
Food Insecurity and malnutrition
Cyclical drought and floods resulted in a sharp increase in food insecurity especially in rural areas. The invasion of desert locust in 2020 through to mid-2021 worsened food security in many areas where households were already experiencing widening food consumption needs and erosion of their coping capacity. The number of people in crisis or worse food security outcomes rose from 1.6 million in early 2021 to 3.5 million by December 2021.
Acute malnutrition continued to worsen, driven by increasing food insecurity, lack of access to water and lack of sanitation. By December, 1.2 million children were projected to be acutely malnourished including nearly 330,000 severely malnourished children.
Prevalence of disease outbreaks
Somalia continues to experience cases of acute watery diarrhea (AWD)/ cholera outbreaks in multiple locations because of the scarcity of safe water, limited access to health facilities, poor hygiene and sanitation services. About 3,858 AWD/cholera cases and 27 related deaths were reported from January to August 2021. During the same period, 695 cases of suspected measles were investigated and 595 were found positive.
Internal displacements and protection risks
About 2.9 million people, mostly women and children, are displaced due to conflict, drought, lack of livelihood opportunities and forced evictions from their settlements, mostly by landlords. They live in extremely poor conditions in overcrowded settlements with limited access to protection and remain at high risk of contracting AWD/cholera and measles due to limited access to safe water, basic sanitation and hygiene services.
The displaced people face a high risk of forced evictions, discrimination, violation of children’s rights and pervasive gender-based violence (GBV) including sexual violence. Of the 2.9 million IDPs, 537,000 were displaced in 2021, of whom 420,000 were forcibly displaced due to conflict.
Forced evictions continue to undermine efforts to assist IDPs and hinder acceleration of durable solutions. In June alone, some 18,273 IDPs were evicted in Somalia. IDPs in Banadir, Bay and Lower Juba regions face increased evictions or eviction threats.
Security and access constraints
The operating environment in Somalia remains complex and dangerous. Active conflict, movement restrictions, interference in the implementation of humanitarian activities and bureaucratic impediments continue to affect the ability of humanitarians to reach people in need promptly. The presence of multiple armed groups including non-state armed groups disrupt movements along main supply routes. Limited and poorly maintained infrastructure is an impediment to reaching people in need with assistance. Road movement restriction, including unauthorized roadblocks and checkpoints, resulted in increased reliance on air transport for humanitarian supplies and personnel.