Natural Hazard Risk
The Federal Republic of Somalia confronts a range of natural hazards. Most of Somalia is characterized as arid and semi-arid. Drought and inconsistent rainfall are underlying threats, along with flooding and earthquakes. Somalia has endured multiple severe drought episodes since 1965. A 2011 drought was one the worst in 60 years, resulting in 260,000 deaths and affecting 13 million people in the Horn of Africa.
Somalia's economy and population remain highly vulnerable to natural hazard shocks. In the absence of stable institutions, the combination of conflict, environmental degradation, and a harsh climate have resulted in multiple full-scale humanitarian crises. In particular, recurrent natural disasters have affected the most vulnerable communities. This includes the country’s 1.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) due to conflict and famine. Poverty is estimated to be 70 percent and extreme poverty is estimated to be 40 percent, though further data and statistical work is required to validate the country's poverty profile. Although food security has improved in recent years, over 950,000 people remain food insecure at crisis or emergency levels. An additional 4.7 million remain vulnerable to acute food insecurity across all regions.
The legacy of conflict in Somalia has weakened the ability of government institutions to address natural hazard and climate-related challenges. Disaster risk management (DRM) actors and associated strategies are fragmented and do not necessarily reflect current theory or best DRM practices.
A number of international donors are supporting disaster and climate resilience projects in Somalia. However, due to a lack of overarching regional strategies, they are generally undertaken as standalone projects in specific areas, unaligned with more comprehensive government policies. Moreover, the government rarely manages response or DRM strategies. Forecasting and response initiatives are predominantly overseen by international actors outside Somalia. This has minimized the ability of local institutions to manage and respond to disasters or climate-related shocks. It weakens government agency and responsibility, feeds the capacity conundrum, and increases dependency on prevailing non-state actors.
To advance DRM in Somalia, government priorities include:
- Improving institutional capacity to address climate and disaster risks and respond to natural disasters;
- Better understanding natural hazard and climate change risk; and,
- Exploring options to strengthen fiscal resilience to natural hazard events.
GFDRR has helped enable DRM in Somalia since 2008 through country-specific and regional grants as part of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The majority of GFDRR support has been focused on risk identification and reduction, as well as post-disaster recovery.
GFDRR support has helped Somalia and other IGAD countries improve their ability to use regional modeling techniques to develop adaptation and climate risk management strategies. Additionally, GFDRR has enabled activities for regional risk reduction, including efforts that coordinate regional preparedness and reduce the negative impacts of the 2009 and 2010 El Niño event. It also worked to ensure sustainable development in the Great Horn of Africa region and IGAD partner countries through better adverse weather predictions.
Following the 2011 drought, GFDRR supported a project that targeted drought-affected populations in Somalia to recover the productive capacity of agriculture and livestock. The project built on and scaled up existing Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) operations for drought resilience at the community-level in southern Somalia.
GFDRR has also invested in women’s empowerment in Somalia. This includes a project on community resilience and gender-based violence to improve socio-economic resilience to external shocks and natural disasters. Finally, GFDRR is investing in the capacity of governments in Somaliland and Puntland to respond to El Niño and other climate events, develop a preparedness and adaptation strategy, and link to regional and global knowledge networks.
GFDRR anticipates new and continued demand in the following areas:
- Building institutional capacity to identify, assess, and understand disaster and climate risks in terms of their economic and fiscal impact;
- Strengthening institutional capacity to respond to disaster and climate risk; and,
- Strengthening disaster preparedness and climate resilience efforts.