Somalia is one of the hardest place on earth to be a child. Decades of civil war have left the country mired in poverty and in many places without a functioning state. Despite the difficult circumstances we continue to work in Somalia helping children in need.
In 2011, Somalia, along with parts of Kenya, drought and insecurity left to an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. We launched our biggest ever emergency response. Find out more at our East Africa appeal page.
Our work in Somalia
In most of the country, our international staff cannot travel because of the volatile security situation.
Nonetheless, because of our work, families survive, children go to school and are fed, and some are literally kept alive.
- We work in the three separate areas of Somalia: south central Somalia, within a restricted area; Somaliland; and Puntland.
- Security continues to be a major risk and we monitor the situation daily, while still reaching children in need.
- In response to the drought we are tripling our response in Somalia, and have established new programmes in areas of extreme need, including Mogadishu.
Hope for the future
Most of our work is in Somaliland and Puntland, the independent regions of northwest Somalia.
In Somaliland we’re helping the government put into practice its new juvenile justice law, enshrining children’s rights for the first time.
We’re working with the ministries of education and health and other organisations, improving nutrition, reducing child and maternal mortality, and establishing and improving child protection systems.
In Puntand we are starting to provide basic healthcare to reach 40,000 people – including 30,000 children under 5 and vulnerable women.
In 2010, we got nearly 20,000 children into school for the very first time. Almost 74,000 children received a better education, with thousands more benefiting from teacher training and our work with communities.
Crossing the line
But south central Somalia is a very different story. There is no effective central government. Most territory is controlled by milita. Public services are limited. More and more Somalis are on the run from an escalating civil war. Millions of people need aid.
Our programme here is about children’s survival, and improving their families’ ability to survive.
In the midst of conflict, we rely on our extraordinarily skilled Somali staff to maintain our humanitarian neutrality and provide the services that save children’s lives.
We maintain strict security protocols so that staff can safely cross what are effectively frontlines in the conflict. If we are forced to leave, as many NGOs have had to do, children and their families will suffer.
“It is very simple,” says Sarah Omware. “We can maintain our programme in Somalia, and children live. Or we can leave, and children die.
“Donors are often reluctant to contribute to projects in Somalia, but we need them to continue their support. If they don’t, what will happen to the 5,000 children in our nutrition programme?”
Back to school
But even in Somalia, we can improve children’s lives. In education, we’ve surpassed our targets, helping nearly 40,000 children get into school for the first time in 2009.
Our emergency nutrition and health programme will help more than 100,000 children and mothers in 2011 — 150,000 by 2012.
Within the first 24 to 72 hours of an emergency, we’ll reach 12,500 children under five, and we’ll make sure that families with whom we work can meet their basic needs through the year.
We’ll continue to lead in education, getting at least 70,000 children into school for the first time, and better education for another 180,000 by the end of 2012.
Nearly 14,000 young people will have vocational, life skills and literacy training.