Together with the Somalian authorities, the UN and aid organizations, Norway has a wide-ranging engagement in war-torn Somalia.

Facts about Somalia

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Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
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Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Both the security and humanitarian situation are extremely serious. Two million people are dependent on emergency aid.

Somalia had no unified central government from the fall of the government in 1991 until the summer of 2012, when the transitional period in Somalia formally ended with the election of a new president.

The second half of 2014 was dominated by the conflict between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the former prime minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, who was removed by a no-confidence vote in parliament on 6 December 2014.

On 17 December the President nominated Omar Abdiradhid Ali Sharmarke as prime minister. Prime Minister Sharmarke succeeded in establishing a government on 9 March 2015.

Relations between the federal government and federal member states, interim and emerging member states, have improved somewhat, but much remains to be accomplished. 

Progress in the political sphere has been slow, partly due to the long-lasting political crisis. Most progress has been made in federalization, and a conference on state-building is currently taking place in relation to the central regions state of Galgadud and southern Mudug.

A Constitutional Review Commission, a National Independent Electoral Commission and a Boundaries and Federation Commission have been established, but because of delays it is vital that they be operationalized quickly in order to achieve their aims.

The UN deployed an Electoral Assessment Mission (ELAM)) to Somalia in July 2015. It was formally affirmed in July that an election would be held in 2016 but that it would not be a ‘one person – one vote’ election. According to plan, clarification of how the election will be held will be given in autumn 2015.

Progress has been achieved in the field of public financial management, including the introduction of an electronic accounting system, a revised central government budget which gives a more realistic picture of revenues, and publication of the central governmental accounts.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has recently had consultations with Somalia. This represents the first steps towards debt relief. The IMF’s assessments will serve as a guide for reforms in public financial management.

Somalia is highly dependent on money transfers from Somalis living abroad and on international aid. To a greater extent than before, donors channel funds via national systems as well as the UN’s Multi-Partner Trust Fund and the World Bank’s Multi-Partner Fund.

The security situation

The security situation in Somalia remains very uncertain. Al-Shabaab continues to pose a serious threat even though the terrorist group has been forced out of most large cities in the southern and central regions of the country.

On 1 September 2014 the al-Shabaab leader Sheikh Mukhtar Abu Zubeyr/Ahmed Godane was killed in Lower Shabelle in a drone attack spearheaded by the USA. A few days later Al Sheikh Ahmad Dirie Umar/Abu Ubaidah was appointed Godane’s successor.

The alliance with al-Qaeda was confirmed together with a renewed declaration that the terrorist attacks would continue. The security situation in Mogadishu is still marred by heavy attacks.

Al-Shabaab continues to wage war against the Somalian authorities and population as well as against the UN and other international supporters. Four UN employees lost their lives in a terrorist attack on Garowe in April 2015, and more than 50 Burundian soldiers in the AMISOM force died in an attack on their camp in the village of Lego in June.

Piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean has declined dramatically in recent years, not least due to increased maritime security, including armed guards onboard ships.

There were 237 attacks in the area in 2011, 75 in 2012 and 15 in 2013. The trend towards fewer or less serious attacks and no successful hijackings continued throughout 2014. However, criminal networks remain intact.

Development cooperation

In 2014 Norwegian development aid to Somalia totalled NOK 425 million. Norwegian support is primarily channelled through the UN, international and Norwegian NGOs and multi-donor funds.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are the largest UN recipients, while the Norwegian Refugee Council and Norwegian Church Aid are the biggest Norwegian NGOs operating in Somalia.

Norwegian development aid promotes political stabilization, democracy and development, and strengthening national and regional institutions is of central importance. Norway also supports the constitutional review process and preparations for the 2016 election.   

Humanitarian engagement

Norway has a strong humanitarian engagement in Somalia. Norway supports maritime security and resource management, and combats piracy on a broad front. This includes both anti-piracy measures at sea and capacity building in Somalia and neighbouring countries.

Educational funding is prioritized and is channelled through UNICEF and Norwegian NGOs.

The Special Financing Facility (SFF) mechanism has provided a temporary channel for direct financial support to the authorities. This has facilitated the payment of public sector employees and the implemention of development measures to benefit the population and enhance the legitimacy of the government.

The fund, which helps to strengthen central government administration and public financial management, was incorporated in the World Bank’s Multi-Partner Fund for Somalia from July 2014.

Preparing for elections

Somalia is in the process of revising its provisional constitution and preparing for elections in 2016. These demanding processes require close cooperation between international partners and the Somali authorities.

Peace, stability and the growth of democracy are important goals for Norway’s engagement in Somalia. The tools for achieving this are support for the forces of moderation, contribution to legitimate political processes and the development of public services. 


In the period from 2014 to 2016, Norway has given NOK 1.7 billion in support of the work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Somalia has received more than USD 191 million in all from the fund between 2004 and 2015. Altogether 36 per cent goes to combatting tuberculosis, 33 per cent to combatting malaria and 31 per cent to combatting HIV/AIDS.

This funding has meant that 1 900 of those infected by HIV receive antiretroviral therapy, 68 300 have been confirmed to be infected with tuberculosis and are receiving treatment, and 3.3 million mosquito nets have been distributed in order to prevent malaria.


In 2014 Norad provided approximately NOK 63 million in support of the work of Norwegian NGOs in Somalia. This was mainly used for activities in the field of education, health, human rights, peace and reconciliation, and natural resources management.

The main Norwegian actors are the Norwegian Refugee Council, Norwegian Church Aid, the Norwegian Red Cross, ADRA Norway (Adventist Development and Relief Agency), Save the Children and Digni.

The Red Cross runs 58 permanent health clinics and 23 mobile clinics offering services primarily to women, children and those who have been injured in conflict. In 2013/14 the health clinics treated almost 900 000 people.

Published 27.08.2014
Last updated 20.11.2015