The world’s worst catastrophe for 60 years. This was how the UN described the famine in Somalia in 2011. Norway donated over NOK 600 mill to the humanitarian aid effort.

Bilateral assistance to Somalia 2011: million kroner

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Bilateral assistance to Somalia 2011: million kroner

Laster data...

Bilateral assistance to Somalia 2006 - 2011: million kroner

Laster data...

In the  journal Foreign Policy’s determination of the world’s worst functioning state, Somalia topped the list for the fourth year running in 2011. The signs of collapse are many: an almost defunct governmental apparatus, clan differences, bad security for the country’s inhabitants, stream of refugees and extreme poverty. 

Political situation

Somalia has not had a unified government since 1991. The weak federal transition government controlled until recently only parts of the capital city of Mogadishu, while large areas in south and central Somalia have been controlled by the Islamic revolutionary group al Shabaab. Several peace conferences, mainly urged by the international society, have been held during the years after the collapse in 1991, including in Arta (Djibouti) in 2000 and in Mbagathi (Kenya) in 2002-2004. The latter resulted in the establishment of a transition government based in Baidoa from 2005 and subsequently Mogadishu, but with control only over parts of the town. 

During the Kampala summit meeting in June 2011 the mandate for a transition government was extended by one year until 20 August 2012. A series of meetings with participation by Somalia’s leading politicians, sometimes with participation by the civilian population, have been held since September 2011 and shall lead to new political institutions by this deadline. Intermediate acceptance of a new Constitution is planned during a separate Constitutional Assembly in  Mogadishu in July 2012, followed by the formation of a new Parliament, new President and new government by 20 August. 

Security situation

The security situation in Somalia varies from region to region, and within regions.  AU’s peace operation AMISOM has been in Somalia, primarily in Mogadishu, since 2007. Others who have participated are Uganda and Burundi, subsequently also Djibouti and Sierra Leone. In August 2011, Al Shabaab was thrown out of Mogadishu, and has been since driven on the retreat through the Afgooye corridor west of Mogadishu.

In 2011, the Kenyan military operation in south Somalia received great attention. The background was also kidnapping of tourists on the northern coast of Kenya, and of aid workers in the refugee camp Dadaab which is located in Kenya.

During the last 20 years, over 500 000 people have fled from Somalia and sought refuge in Dadaab, which is estimated to be the world’s largest refugee camp. Kenya has subsequently received support for the intervention by the Somalian transition government, and today is an important part of AMISOM. In addition, the Ethiopian forces have from time to time taken control of the western parts of south and central Somalia. Collectively, this means that Al Shabaab has been put under strong pressure. The movement still controls the seaport of Kismayo, and thereby important income. An offensive against Kismayo led by Kenyan forces/AMISOM as well as the so-called TFG militia is expected to take place in the near future. 

The war has made the situation even more unstable in many areas of Somalia. An important question concerning areas which are released by al Shabaab is how to avoid a power vacuum which results in the warlords taking over. 

Humanitarian catastrophe

Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia were hard hit by the famine, but the situation was the worst in Somalia. For the first time in several decades, the UN declared famine in the worst hit areas. That is the most serious category the UN operates with and it means that at least two people in every 10 000 die of hunger every day, and at least 30 prosent of children under five years of age are malnourished. Over 100 000 people sought refuge in Mogadishu. Over 100 000 others walked for as much as three weeks to reach the borders of Kenya and the gigantic camp of Dadaab.

Continuously more fleeing

Statistics from the Norwegian Refugee Council from 2010 show that as much as every sixth somalian is a refugee. The statistics are even more depressing after the famine in 2001 forced many to flee.
In  2010 an agreement was entered into between the Norwegian Refugee Council  and Norway which for a period of three years would donate NOK 258 mill (NOK 86 mill per year) to the programmes in Kenya, Somalia, DR Kongo, Uganda, Sudan and Zimbabwe. The agreement is called Humanitarian Assistance and Protection to Persons Displaced in Africa.

The agreement is a part of follow-up of the prioritizing laid down in the Report to the Storting No. 40 on Norwegian humanitarian policy. Here is it emphasized inter alia that the Government will give priority to measures for protection and re-integration of refugees. 

Norwegian aid to Somalia

Development work is difficult in Somalia. The country is marked by war and conflict and Norway channels funds mainly through the UN system and voluntary organisations. Norwegian Churh Aid and Norwegian Refugee Council  are among the Norwegian players who have worked in the country for a number of years. 

For aid workers the country is one of the world’s most dangerous in which to work. During the famine there were long periods where it was impossible to reach the hardest hit areas. Norwegian priorities:

  • rebuilding
  • good government
  • suppport to local capacity building
  • prevention of humanitarian catastrophes
  • peace and reconciliation

The support has mainly been channelled via UNDP and aid organisations.

In 2011, Norway contributed NOK 620 mill in aid to Somalia, of which the largest part was spent on humanitarian efforts in the region. Most of this went to the hardest hit areas in south and central Somalia. The funds were channelled through the UN, Red Cross and organisations which have long experience with working in the country. 

Here are some examples of how the funds were distributed and spent:

• the UN Office for Humanitarian Activities (OCHA):  emergency aid and co-ordination – NOK 123.4 mill. 
• Norwegian Red Cross and the Red Cross (ICRC) : worked in Somalia, Kenya, Eritrea and Ethiopia – NOK 91 mill.
• Norwegian Refugee Council  : emergency aid, education and food in Somalia and to refugees in Ethiopia – NOK 90 mill.
• UN  (CERF): Norway’s share  – NOK 75 mill.
• UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): NOK 50 mill.
• UN’ s children’s fund (Unicef) : food distribution in  Eritrea, water and education in  Somalia – NOK 42 mill. 
• UN’s organisation for nutrition and agriculture (FAO): NOK 35 mill.
• Concern Worldwide – strengthen household in Somalia: NOK 25 mill.
• Norwegian Churh Aid – water and education in Somalia: NOK 19.5 mill. 
• Save the Children – emergency aid in the Hiran region: NOK 15 mill. 
• Norwegian Refugee Council’s disaster preparedness force: NOK 13.9 mill. 
• Norwegian People’s Aid (NOSCAP) – water in Somalia: NOK 12 mill. 
• World Food Programn (WFP) – food distribution: NOK 10 mill.
• World Health Organisation (WHO):  NOK 10 mill. 


Building pirate prisons

Pirates who are taken prisoner are a headache for international law:  they cannot be sent back to existing Somali prisons because the authorities cannot guarantee a fair trial and humane conditions for serving their sentences. 
Norway therefore supports the UN programme The Piracy Prisoner Transfer Programme.

A prison is being built for pirates in the town of Garowe in Puntland. It is to be completed in 2012 or 2013. The project is carried out by the UN ’s office for narcotics and crime (UNODC) and the prison be being built by the UN’s office for project services (UNOPS).

Norway donated NOK 15.5 mill for this in 2011, of which NOK 15 mill was for the project, and NOK  0.5 mill was for financing of Norwegian prison experts to the UN. 

Norway also decided to contribute with an Orion naval surveillance aircraft to NATO’s Operation Ocean Shield which fights piracy off the Bay of Aden. An agreement was also entered into with the Seychelles, entailing that the Norwegian surveillance aircraft participating in NATO operations off the Bay of Aden have a base there. 

Good government

Norway has supported UNDP’s programme for the system of government, Somali Institutional Development Project. This includes support to strengthening of the governmental apparatus in Somaliland and professionalisation of the staff of permanent officials. Special weight has been attached to the work with the Parliament, particularly in the role as monitor of the government’s activities. Equivalent support has been provided to Puntland’s authorities. 

The transition government in Somalia shall, according to plan, be replaced during 2012. Norway has given priority to the work with reforms in Parliament and the Constitutions. The work is led by the UN’s political office for Somalia (UNPOS).

Meetings have also been held with young people regarding the work with the Constitution in Puntland which is an autonomous state in Somalia. The women village leaders and members of the district councils have been trained in leadership, communication and network activities. 

Capacity building

A project, carried out together with the University of Somalia, contributed to capacity building with influential elders and teachers in and around Baidoa. The theme was knowledge regarding peace and conflict. The result is that in the local societies there are several people who can contribute to promoting peaceful and religious co-existence and prevent extremism in the population. 

In Somaliland, Norway has supported building of a new main building for the National Audit Office. In addition, uniforms were distributed to the civilian police in Somaliland. In addition, various projects were supported which were directed at women and players in the whole of Somalia, including organisations which work with assaults on women.