Category Archives: Ramadan Events
The media and analysis service for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs – IRIN - has compiled a list of some of Somalia’s key health and socio-economic indicators, obtained from local experts and other sources, which will influence the country’s progress in coming years.
Somalia faces numerous health challenges, central among them the absence of an effective national health system, according to former acting health minister Abdiaziz Sheikh Yusuf. After the 1991 overthrow of the former government, hundreds of doctors and nurses fled the country, and medical services were taken over by the private sector, the UN and NGOs. Under a new cabinet structure announced on 4 November, the health ministry will now fall under the Social Development Services Ministry, which will be led by Maryan Qasim. This new ministry will also cover education, youth and sports.
At least 28 per cent of Somalia’s population – some 2.12 million people – are currently food insecure, a drop from the peak of over 4 million people in 2011. An estimated 236,000 people are acutely malnourished and in need of specialized nutrition treatment, according to a 26 September Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit report. While exact figures on national under-nutrition prevalence are not available from the government, poor nutrition is recognized as a major problem. Lul Mohamud Mohamed, a Mogadishu-based paediatrician said that malnutrition there is worsened by diseases such as measles.
Somalia ranks first in the world in under-five mortality, according to the UN Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) 2012 State of the World’s Children report. Children face poor healthcare coverage and quality, low immunization rates, high levels of malnutrition and frequent disease outbreaks.
Somalia has around 60 million heads of livestock, according to estimates from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry. Somalia exports livestock, mainly goats, to the Arabian Peninsula, and the meat is also locally consumed. Raising livestock is the main economic activity in most central regions, as well as in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, in northeastern Somalia, and in the self-declared republic of Somaliland.
Only 30 per cent of Somalia’s population has access to improved drinking water sources and only 23 per cent has access to improved sanitation facilities, according to UNICEF’s report. While the government does not know the exact number of Somalis without access to clean drinking water, Yusuf, the former acting health minister, told IRIN that there are insufficient water wells in the country, describing this as one of the most important challenges facing the new government.
Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
Somalia continues to be the leading refugee source country in the Horn of Africa, mainly due to its insecurity. As of 31 October, over 1 million people had fled Somalia to neighbouring countries; about half of them are being hosted in Kenya, mainly in the eastern Dadaab camps. The rest of the refugees are spread out in countries such as Yemen, Ethiopia and Uganda, according to the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR). An estimated 1.36 million Somalis are internally displaced, mainly in the south-central regions. According to UNICEF, an estimated 27 per cent of Somalia’s population (or about 2 million people), half of whom are children, remain in a state of humanitarian crisis.
Somalia has a land area of about 637,657 sq km, of which 70 per cent is considered ‘agricultural land’, or land suitable for farming and pasture, according to World Bank data. But only 1.6 per cent of the total land area is arable, according to Hussein Haji, an agricultural expert and the executive director of the Somali Agricultural Technical Group. In addition, only 10 percent of arable land is currently being cultivated, with farmers in the sorghum- and maize-growing Bay and Bakool regions depending on rain-fed agriculture.
Haji estimates that agriculture contributes about 40 per cent of Somalia’s Gross National Product; tomatoes, onions and sesame are some of Somalia’s cash crops, and cereal yields include wheat, rice, maize, barley, oats, rye, millet, sorghum, buckwheat and mixed grains harvested for dry grain only. But production is very low because farmers lack access to quality inputs and irrigation. For example, from 2007-2011, the cereal yield in Somalia was 432 kg per hectare of harvested land, compared to Austria’s 5,358 kg and Ethiopia’s 1,674 kg, according to World Bank data.
Fishing and Tourism
Somalia has about 3,300 km of coastline, which, if well utilized, could help improve the country’s economy. If Somali fishermen could access the right training and equipment, the country could feed itself, Mohamed Sheikh Ahmed, an economist and lecturer at the Mogadishu-based SIMAD University said. Ahmed also noted the coastline could be used to develop a tourism sector, as the country enjoys pristine beaches. “In some parts of the country, you can see forests almost mingling with the sea while camels graze nearby. This is beautiful and can be a tourist attraction, if utilized,” he said. Insecurity, however, remains a major challenge.
The country has a significant youth population, with about 42 percent of Somalis aged between 14 and 29. But unemployment among them stands at a high of 67 per cent – one of the highest rates in the world, according to the 2012 UN Development Programme’s Somalia Human Development Report. Youth must be given opportunities, “as their exclusion, resentment and grievances are fuel for conflict escalation and risky behaviours,” the report says.