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With no end in sight to the prolonged drought in Somalia, coupled with skyrocketing prices and an under-funded humanitarian response, the risk of famine looms larger than ever.
Five consecutive failed rainy seasons have left five million people in Somalia in acute food insecurity and almost two million children at risk of malnutrition.
Although famine has not yet been officially declared in the country, we know children are already losing their lives to hunger and disease.
Reports suggest that 43,000 "excess deaths" occurred in 2022 because of the drought. Half of these deaths are thought to have been among children under the age of 5.
For famine to be declared in a country, it means at least 1 in 3 children are acutely malnourished and 2 in 10,000 people are dying every day from starvation. These are not numbers we want to hit but we’re already dangerously close to this reality.

How are we helping children in Somalia?

  • We’re providing health and nutrition services, distributing emergency food assistance and, unconditional cash transfers, and helping communities to access clean water to reduce the risk of illness and disease.
  • We’re also providing incentives to teachers to help schools stay open, as well as counselling, family tracing, and reunification for children who are at risk of child protection issues.
  • We’re working closely with the government and partners on the ground to provide lifesaving assistance, having reached over one million people, including 586,000 children to date.

But a scale up in humanitarian assistance is needed to avert the risk of famine. Communities are resilient due to the investments in resilience, climate adaptive programming and social protection mechanisms. However, every community has its limit, and currently humanitarian assistance has not kept pace with the rising levels of needs.

How we've helped before

We've worked in Somalia/Somaliland since 1951, delivering life-saving humanitarian services and reaching millions with our education, health and protection services.

We believe in building community resilience, through:

  • Providing basic social services in education, health and protection
  • Strengthening government capacity to deliver such services 
  • Working with communities and children to promote their rights.

Save the Children has been responding to humanitarian needs in the country for decades, but our reach has been constrained by lack of access to communities in need as a result of widespread conflict, poor infrastructure and limited donor funding.

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’re working with communities, helping to provide basic healthcare and getting more children into school.

In the areas affected by conflict, we rely on our extraordinarily skilled Somali staff to maintain our humanitarian neutrality and provide the services that save children’s lives. But even here, we can improve children’s lives.

Our emergency nutrition and health programmes help thousands of children and mothers. And in education, we’ve surpassed our targets, helping more children get into school for the first time, and helping to deliver vocational, life skills and literacy training.


Page updated September 2023

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