Men collecting water from a well, Somaliland. Credit: Pablo Tosco/Oxfam

Somalia faces some of the most severe humanitarian and development challenges in the world, exacerbated by ongoing armed conflict in parts of the country and intense, recurrent droughts. Of a population of approximately 11 million people, 2.6 million are displaced and a total of 5.4 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. Famine was averted in 2017, but the drought decimated livestock, the mainstay of the Somali economy. Rebuilding already fragile livelihoods remains challenging, while the Somali government faces a massive debt burden with limited state infrastructure.

However, Somalia also possesses significant potential, including a young population, stability in parts of the country, expansive fishery resources, and thriving telecommunications and mobile banking sector. The challenges are immense, yet there is potential and hope for a better future.

Oxfam in Somalia: decades of partnership

Oxfam has been working in Somalia for over 40 years with local communities, civil society and local authorities, delivering humanitarian assistance and longer-term development initiatives. 

Our vision is for a peaceful and vibrant Somalia where the rights and basic needs of all women and men are equitably met, including participation in decision making and governance processes. Women, youth and children are at the heart of our work towards a more equitable Somalia, where we are reaching hundreds of thousands of people in 2018 alone.

Life-saving humanitarian assistance

Oxfam currently delivers a large-scale humanitarian response focusing on water, sanitation, hygiene and food security, ensuring immediate needs are met and the foundations are laid for long-term recovery and resilience. 

Activities include construction of water sources, water trucking to remote communities, construction of latrines and multi-purpose cash grants that empower communities to decide how to best meet their needs. We are paying special attention to the protection of women and children from security risks. 

Oxfam also works with and advocates for Somali civil society and government actors to have a more prominent role in humanitarian responses. 

Looking to the future, Oxfam links our humanitarian work with building community resilience, such as mitigating the impacts of climate change through sustainable water resources.

Our development programs: foundations for the future

Oxfam’s development work complements our humanitarian interventions to address the underlying causes of poverty and injustice, while working to realize the potential of all people in Somalia. 

This includes a focus on encouraging and facilitating women and youth to engage in formal and informal decision making processes, including parliament, improving economic prospects for youth and enhancing access to formal justice systems. 

Policy and influencing are central to our approach to addressing systemic challenges and inequities, such as advocating for Somali debt cancellation and inclusive gender and youth-related policies.

Oxfam’s Partners

Oxfam currently works in close collaboration with civil society actors, including Candlelight, HAVOYOCO, Innovate Venture, KAALO, Legal Aid Clinic, NAGAAD, SHAQODOON, SHURAKO and SONYO, and multiple government ministries and departments. Oxfam’s work is funded by the DEC, Dutch Government, EU, ECHO, GERC and public and institutional donations.