Hälsoarbetare i Somalia

Ayan Ali is a health worker in Borama, Somaliland. She regularly visit families in their homes to monitor the development of children and encourage pregnant women to visit the maternal and child health center.

Photo: David Isaksson, Global Reporting


Our work in Somalia

Published: 17 June 2009 Updated: 16 February 2015

The civil war in Somalia has left deep wounds in the country and the humanitarian needs remain large. Security problems make the aid work more difficult. There has been a certain stability established in Mogadishu, Somaliland and Puntland in the north. An interim constitution has been developed with support from Sweden, and the new federal government has a strengthened legitimacy. The Swedish strategy focuses the contributions on crisis management, democracy, human rights and job creation.

The long civil war in Somalia has left deep wounds in the country. The conflict is by no means over, but there is a certain level of stability in the more or less autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland in the north, and African Union troops have managed to establish some stability, mainly in Mogadishu. The new federal government has a stronger legitimacy than the former one, and Sweden has contributed to the development of an interim constitution. Though the militant Islamist group Al Shabaab is weakened, it constitutes a substantial threat. Security remains a big problem and involves major challenges to the development work in the country. The humanitarian situation is still very serious due to drought and conflict, although the country has somewhat recovered since the severe drought in 2011.

Sweden initially had development cooperation with Somalia in the 80s, which was canceled when the war started. Humanitarian assistance still continued after the Somali government collapsed. In 2002, the development cooperation was resumed.

Swedish-Somali diaspora involved in the new results strategy

In July 2013, the Swedish government adopted a new, ambitious results strategy for development assistance to Somalia with the goal to strengthen poor people's ability to resist and handle new crises, support the fragile democracy, strengthen the respect for human rights and increase job opportunities. New areas of cooperation in the strategy mainly concern support to job creating efforts and to the media, but the strategy also brings a clearer focus on gender equality and human rights and continued support to health, particularly maternal and child health care. The new results strategy has also got a focus on the diaspora’s role in development cooperation.

Humanitarian needs remain very large even if the situation is not as precarious as during the drought of 2011. The Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), the  Red Cross, the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) are some of the organisations in Somalia that receive annual humanitarian aid from Sida.

A major part of the development cooperation is being implemented by various UN agencies. For example, Sweden is working with UNDP  to support the Somali public institutions, not least an improved police and judiciary system. In order to build up a long term and sustainable health system, Sweden supports a broad programme targeted on women and children in Somalia, in collaboration with the UN joint health and nutrition programme. This has led to the development of five-year strategic health plans for all of Somalia.

Sweden also supports smaller organisations. Through Interpeace, Sweden has supported many of the democratic elections that have been held in the autonomous Somaliland. We support efforts to strengthen the security at local level through the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) in collaboration with the Danish Demining Group. We also support Swedish civil society organisations that are present in the country. Sweden is working to strengthen democracy, for example through a national UN programme to improve local governance, and through Diakonia that works in Puntland in northeastern Somalia to strengthen participation and promote greater equality, by giving more girls the opportunity to attend school.

Sweden supports a programme through the organisation Forum Syd, to facilitate for Swedish - Somali diaspora organisations to get funding for carrying out smaller operations together with local civil society organisations in Somalia. Cooperation has also been initiated with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in a diaspora project where individual experts from the diaspora can contribute to the reconstruction of Somalia.

Two million people displaced

There are one million internally displaced people in Somalia and another million Somalis who have fled to neighboring countries – mostly to Kenya. Sida contributes to housing and livelihood for these refugees. Our support is channeled through the UNHCR and the UN housing and settlement agency UN-HABITAT.

The situation for aid workers is difficult in Somalia. Roadblocks, harassment and ambushes make the situation dangerous and aid workers have been kidnapped and killed. When humanitarian organisations can no longer operate under the so-called humanitarian imperative – to alleviate suffering and save lives based on the fundamental principles of humanity, independence, impartiality and neutrality – the ultimate consequence could be that they withdraw. This happened recently in August 2013 when Médecins Sans Frontières announced its withdrawal from Somalia.

Many actors are involved in the reconstruction efforts in Somalia, and the coordination of efforts is therefore of utmost importance. Sweden has been the chairman of the Somali Donor Group in 2011 and 2012, and has actively contributed to improve donor coordination. As of August 2013, Sweden is chairman of the humanitarian donor group together with the EU's humanitarian aid office ECHO.

Read more about developments in Somalia.

Page owner: Department for Africa

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