Together with the Somalian authorities, the UN and non-governmental organizations, Norway has a wide-ranging engagement in war-torn Somalia. Both the security and humanitarian situation are extremely serious, and two million people are dependent on emergency aid.

Facts about Somalia

The flag for Somalia
Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
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The flag for Somalia

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Somalia was without a 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 in September. That same autumn, a separate constitutional assembly provisionally adopted a new constitution which is to be reviewed by the parliament, after which it is to be adopted by referendum when the security situation permits. The hope is that this will take place by the end of 2016.


The new parliament was also inaugurated in August 2012, and Norwegian-Somalian Mohamed Osman Jawari was elected Speaker. Fourteen per cent of the members of parliament are women.

On 10 September 2012, the academic Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was appointed by parliament as the country’s president and the businessman Abdi Farah Shirdon became the new prime minister. A government of only ten ministers, two of which are women, was ratified by parliament in November 2012. The Transitional Federal Government also has an even clan distribution with the four main clans (Hawiye, Darood, Dir and Digil-Mirifle) and the small clans (together), each represented by two ministers.

The newly elected Somalian leadership represents a shift in Somalian politics and provides grounds for a moderate degree of optimism. The expectations are high, but the capacity of the government is low. The president has presented his own six-point plan with an emphasis on political stabilization, national unity, economic reconstruction, peacebuilding, delivery of basic services, and an improvement in Somalia’s foreign relations.  

The 2012 election resulted in a new impetus for international engagement, and the federal government provides some hope of political stability. Under the principles of the New Deal, by which weak and vulnerable states are to have greater ownership of the country’s development and could include international donors and UN activities in their national plans, an agreement was ratified in Brussels in September 2013. This now represents the basis for cooperation between the international community and the Somalian government.

Corruption and financial control

In the first instance, there will be a strong emphasis on short-term initiatives with measurable and visible effects for the population, such as health centres, and on initiating the painstaking work of national institution building.  The government wishes to increasingly take the lead in the planning and implementation of internationally funded interventions. This requires strengthening Somalia’s national institutions, combating corruption, and financial control, as well as mechanisms to reinforce Somalian participation in all areas.

The African Union’s (AU’s) peacekeeping force AMISOM has been in Somalia since 2007. The security situation in Somalia varies from region to region, and within regions, with the conflict now dominated by the security and terror threat from the extremist organization al-Shabaab. In addition to reconciliation and dialogue, the economic foundation for state building is critical: a revenue basis must be established and a fiscal policy developed. It is improbable that the international community will fund Somalian authorities over time unless there are prospects of socioeconomic sustainability.

The situation for women in Somalia is especially difficult. Violence is widespread and throughout 2013 a sharp increase was reported in the number of rapes. Internally displaced girls and women are particularly exposed to this. More than 95 per cent of women in Somalia are thought to have been subjected to female genital mutilation, and marriage to minors is still widespread.

Somalia was severely affected by drought and famine in 2011. For the first time in several decades, the UN declared a state of famine in the worst affected regions. This is the most serious category that the UN uses, and it means that at least two people per 10,000 are dying of hunger each day, and that at least 30 per cent of children under five are undernourished.  UN statistics for 2013 show that more than 1.1 million Somalians are still internally displaced. Due to drought, the situation in large parts of the country is generally precarious. This leads to a shortage of food and water, especially in the conflict-torn southern and central parts of the country.

Norwegian aid to Somalia

Norwegian development aid to Somalia increased substantially in 2013, and Norwegian aid effectiveness calls for flexibility, willingness to take risks and an understanding of the political power battle in Somalia. However, development work is difficult and the country is still marked by war and conflict: Norwegian Church Aid and the Norwegian Refugee Council are among the Norwegian actors who have worked in Somalia for many years, and in addition to these organizations, UNDP and Somalian authorities are among Norway’s main partners.

Somalia is reviewing its provisional constitution and preparing for elections in 2016 – difficult processes that require close cooperation between international partners and Somalian authorities. Important goals for Norwegian engagement on development aid in the country are peace, stability and the growth of democracy.  The tools to achieve this are support for the forces of moderation, contribution to legitimate political processes and the development of public services.

Norwegian priorities in Somalia:

  • Reconstruction
  • Good governance
  • Capacity building
  • Prevention of humanitarian disasters
  • Peace and reconciliation

Given the weak capacity on the Somalian side, Somalian institutions need to be brought up to a minimum level. Norway prioritizes support to peacebuilding, trust-building activity and the establishment of core state functions through contributions to the UN and non-state actors. Such support includes:

  • The Somalia Stability Fund: a multinational fund that gives priority to building the capacity of political institutions at central and regional level
  • UNDP receives support for its work with access to justice, the police and environmental management, with the objective of increasing services provided by public authorities in all regions
  • UNDP, ILO, UNEP, UNICEF and UN Habitat receive support for improvement of local governance and public services at district level, with the goal of increasing the quality and quantity of public services.

The Somali Compact was established in 2013 as a framework for how Somalia and the donor countries should work together for development over the next three years. An entirely new aid architecture is being established against the backdrop of the OECD “New Deal” principles for vulnerable states.

In 2013, the federal government in Mogadishu, members of parliament and civil society, with the UN and the EU as main donors, set up a high-level partnership forum to oversee the implementation of the Somali Compact, with peace and reconciliation as priority areas. The Norwegian Embassy participates in some of the working groups, and chairs the group working on national revenue.

Long-term development assistance

During 2013, the Norwegian Embassy’s aid portfolio changed from one-year project agreements with smaller actors to contributions to funds and co-funding under the leadership of large international partners. Based on the Somali Compact, Norway signed multi-year agreements with the aim of being a predictable, long-term development partner.

In 2013, Norway also worked to establish a temporary international fund for reconstruction, the Special Financing Facility, which makes it possible to provide financial support to the authorities in Mogadishu.

There is widespread corruption in Somalia, and the fund has stringent control mechanisms to reduce the risk to the greatest possible extent. Norway has earmarked NOK 175 million for this fund over the next three years for development projects, capacity building and to ensure that public employees working in the administration receive regular salaries. If a nation is to be built from scratch, employees are needed, and employees need salaries.

The UNDP programme encompasses a wide geographic area (Puntland, Somaliland and Central Somalia) and a broad range of sectors (the justice sector, legal aid, environmental management, gender equality and budget management). An external review in 2013 found that the programme had relevance and represented a contribution to stability and reconciliation in Somalia. Norway also supports the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to reinforce political awareness and participation.

A review of the support to the NDI and UNDP noted that there is evidence that the NDI has contributed to the peaceful establishment of Somalia as a federal state. Due to lack of security, the NDI has adjusted and changed its goals over the period, making documentation of new results uncertain.

Norway provides support to experienced actors with a wide network related to peace and stability in Somalia. If this is to succeed, it is crucial that the population experiences the authorities to be visible and relevant, and in a position to deliver services. The ability to organize processes that include all parties and to conduct legitimate elections is a criterion for Norwegian funding. This funding is also based on a continuous effort being made to prevent a backlash and radicalization. The development work must therefore be seen in connection with humanitarian aid, combating terrorism, and peacekeeping forces.

Norwegian NGO´s

Norwegian non-governmental organizations receive a total of NOK 96 million for projects in Somalia in 2014. Key actors are the Norwegian Refugee Council, Norwegian Church Aid, ADRA, ICRCDigni and the Development Fund. Several smaller projects are also funded under the auspices of Norwegian-Somalian organizations.

The majority of projects are related to education and inclusive vocational training, while support is also given to projects concerning health, female genital mutilation, peacebuilding and agriculture.

Published 27.08.2014
Last updated 16.02.2015