Somalia is located in the Horn of Africa and home to over 12 million people.
After decades of conflict, there are signs that the country is starting to rebuild. However, there are still many challenges related to the destroyed infrastructure, precarious security situation and natural disasters such as droughts, floods, famines and disease.
Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the lives of disadvantaged children, young people and families.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Somalia since 1985.
Around 77 % of the Somali population lives in poverty. Many do not have access to adequate food, safe shelter, proper sanitation or clean drinking water. Poverty is highest in rural areas and among internally displaced people who have been forced to leave their homes and the communities that support them due to conflict or natural disasters.
Many children are at risk of not receiving enough nutritious food and the education they need, as they are forced to work - often in exploitative and dangerous conditions - to contribute to their families' livelihoods.
Somalia has some of the lowest school enrolment rates in world. Of the 4.5 million children who should be in school, only around 1.5 million children are actually attending. A lack of available educational facilities, materials and teachers account for this. Families affected by poverty or in a crisis cannot afford the school fees. Children are withdrawn from school, and have to contribute towards the family’s livelihood. As a result, only 37% of people know how to read and write. The illiteracy rate for women is acutely high at 75%.
When a child is born in Somalia, it has one of the lowest chances of surviving to adulthood worldwide. Many families do not have access to safe drinking water and sanitation, which fuels the spread of life-threatening diseases. Young children, internally displaced persons and pregnant women are particularly at risk. Somalia has the sixth highest maternal mortality rate in the world (732 deaths per 100,000 live births). Most of these deaths could be prevented if pregnant women had access to adequate health care.