Ten Things You Need to Know About Poverty in Somalia


SEATTLE—Political conflict, violence and famines have perpetuated poverty in Somalia. To alleviate the effects of these events, the country receives foreign aid from several countries, including Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Nevertheless, its residents still face famine, poverty and droughts. Below are 10 facts about poverty in Somalia:

1. According to the most recent data published by UNDP, Somalia has a 73 percent poverty rate.
Somalia is among the world’s poorest nations, according to its national GDP and other poverty indicators. The government’s instability contributes greatly to this problem. In addition, incessant threats to food and water security maintain poor standards of living.

2. The average life expectancy is 50 for men and 53 for women.
As a direct consequence of famine, disease and violence, the life expectancy of the average Somali is extremely low. In addition, diseases like malaria continue to harm the population.

3. Clean water access within Somalia increased in 2015.
According to UNICEF, “45 percent have access to improved water sources, up from 15 percent since 2011.” Even though this is a major improvement, more than half of the population still lacks access to these water sources. As a result, unclean water can lead to severe and life-threatening health issues such as cholera.

4. Nearly 2 million children do not have access to education.
UNICEF also estimated that bout 60 percent children within Somalia in 2015 were not enrolled in school. In addition, Rural and nomadic communities in particular have little to no access to education.

5. The most recent data indicates that over 1 million Somalis have been displaced within their country due to conflict.
These individuals lack adequate access to food, water, and shelter. In addition, many of these internally displaced persons are women and children.

6. In 2011, about 260,000 people died from famine in Somalia.
According to the UN, half of the victims were children. The famine has its roots in severe droughts, as well as violent conflicts between groups. Droughts continue to affect communities within Somalia and further threaten food security.

7. According to UNICEF, one in seven Somali children died before their fifth birthday in 2015.
This is attributed to disease, hunger and lack of proper health care.

8. In 2015, 305,000 children suffered from malnutrition.
However, organizations like UNICEF are attempting to treat these children. UNICEF states that 91 percent of children treated for severe acute malnutrition recovered in 2015.

9. Over 600,000 individuals were affected by malaria in 2014.
Children are amongst the most vulnerable to this illness. As a result, UNICEF and the Global Fund have provided Insecticide-treated mosquito nets to help fight the epidemic.

10. Terrorism is rampant within the country largely under the Al-Shabaab militia—an affiliate group to Al-Qaeda.
Extreme poverty within Somalia has allowed terrorist organizations to thrive. In February of 2016, at least 20 people died in a series of suicide bombings in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

Poverty in Somalia is an issue that is in immediate need of foreign aid and recognition. Though it has seen some improvement in recent years, aid efforts must continue in order for more development to occur.

Saroja Koneru

Photo: Flickr


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