A round-up of activities of the UN system in Somalia in October 2023

31 Oct 2023

A round-up of activities of the UN system in Somalia in October 2023


Floods | OCHA coordinates flood preparedness

Working with Somali authorities and partners, OCHA continued to coordinate flood preparedness and response following the seasonal Deyr rains, which fall from October to December.

The rainfall has resulted in significant flash floods, the destruction or damage of shelters, roads, buildings and bridges, and temporary displacement. Also, moderate to heavy rainfall has been reported in parts of Banadir, Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubaland and South West State since early October.

According to local authorities and humanitarian partners, two people died in Baidoa after their house collapsed on them following the rains. OCHA also noted that partners in Galmudug have reported the death of a 13-year-old girl who drowned in flood waters in Ceel Huur village.

The UN humanitarian agency added that emergency preparedness and flood response coordination meetings are ongoing at different levels.

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Women and girls | UNFPA starts health project for women and girls

Along with the Federal Government of Somalia, USAID and UNICEF, UNFPA marked the International Day of the Girl Child with the launch of the ‘Healthier Somali Women and Girls’ project.

The $2.7 million project, funded by USAID and implemented by UNFPA, will strengthen maternal and child health services in marginalized communities of Somalia’s southern and central regions.

At the launch, USAID’s Sheri-Nouane Duncan-Jones highlighted how directed investments and strategic actions can bring about substantial improvements in the lives of Somali women, newborns and infants.

Also at the launch, government leaders, UN officials and youth advocates discussed strategies for girls' rights, emphasizing the importance of support networks and targeted investments in healthcare and education.

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Rule of Law | UNOPS hands over police station in Puntland

UNOPS helped improve access to justice in Somalia with the handover of the last of 17 newly-constructed police stations and outposts in Abary, Puntland.

“This momentous achievement represents a crucial step in extending the reach of formal rule of law institutions, particularly the police, to the communities they serve,” UNOPS said.

UNOPS carried out the project through the Joint Police Programme (JPP) – a Somali-led initiative which brings together UNOPS with UNDP, UNPOL and the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), with the support of the European Union, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Launched in 2018, the JPP aims to enhance federal and state-level police forces' effectiveness and accountability, improving security and justice access across Somalia, according to UNOPS.

Consolidating contributions from various donors, the JPP works closely with the Ministry of Internal Security to train and equip police, support infrastructure, engage in security sector reform, promote community-oriented policing, and ensure accountable governance.

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Floods | WFP prepares for floods

With El Niño expected to cause devastating floods in several parts of Somalia, WFP activated anticipatory actions in multiple districts across the country – the first time WFP has implemented this type of step against floods in Africa.

The actions included sending early warning messages and cash transfers to families where flooding is forecast to pre-emptively mitigate its impact.

According to WFP, anticipatory action works by linking weather forecasts to pre-determined contingency plans and funding tools, and is activated once pre-defined thresholds are passed – for example, river or rainfall levels. In this way, communities can be provided with the support they need to anticipate and prepare for climate shocks before they happen.

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Drought | FAO supports Bulo Burte farmers with drought recovery

With support from Sweden, FAO helped 1,200 drought-stricken farming households in Hirshabelle’s Bulo Burte district to resume production and feed their households.

The district was selected based on the most recent food security and nutrition analysis that found a high population of households with acute food insecurity and more.

The farmers are receiving maize, mung bean, cowpea and vegetable seeds, as well as farm tools and hermetic storage bags. The items are enabling vulnerable households to restore their food security and plant crops.

"Besides my children, many relatives live with me in this house," said Saciido Omar, a rural farmer who benefitted from the project, said the inputs have made a significant impact in the community.

“My family lost their livestock and crops during the drought where they were later affected by the floods after the rains came," she added.

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Youth | UN-Habitat gifts youth hub in Baidoa

With Sweden’s support, UN-Habitat gifted youth in Baidoa with a brand-new multi-purpose centre – the ‘Baidoa Youth Hub.’

Located in the heart of Baidoa, the largest city in South West State, the venue boasts a computer lab, a conference hall, library, dedicated training rooms, a multi-purpose sports field and a modern cafeteria.

The centre will provide a wide range of services and training programmes in employability and livelihoods, democracy and peacebuilding, health and wellbeing, sports and recreation.

According to UN-Habitat, Somalia is currently one of the world's fastest urbanizing countries, and a distinctive aspect of this urbanization is the significant youth demographic, comprising an estimated 27 per cent of adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 29.

The Baidoa Youth Hub is a partnership between UN-Habitat and the local government. It utilizes an integrated approach to youth development by providing youth with safe spaces in urban settings where they can meet and access information and resources critical to youth-led development including peace building, employment and recreational facilities.

Partners for the project include South West State’s the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Government of Sweden.

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Health | UNICEF recommits to integrated approach to health emergencies

Along with the President of the Global Development Division of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Chris Elias, and WHO’s Representative to Somalia, Dr. Mamunur Rahman Malik, UNICEF’s Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Etleva Kadilli, met with Prime Minister Hamza Barre to reiterate their support to strengthen Somalia’s health system and coordinate efforts to stop the spread of vaccine preventable childhood diseases.

Somalia is facing one of the world’s longest outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2. The situation is compounded by conflict and the impacts of climate change, like the current El Niño-induced flooding that is affecting parts of the country and giving rise to fears of disease outbreaks.

So far, via the entities’ partnership, some four million children have been reached with at least two polio vaccine doses. According to UNICEF, getting children vaccinated is the surest way to protect them from childhood diseases.

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Shelter | UNHCR launches shelter project in Baidoa

UNHCR launched a shelter project that provides support for 455 beneficiaries in Baidoa, the largest city in South West State.

The project highlighted UNHCR's commitment to providing durable solutions for displaced populations – by prioritizing the well-being and resilience of beneficiaries, it aims to create a lasting impact and improve the lives of those affected by displacement in Baidoa.

For the project, UNHCR worked closely with local partners to identify the most vulnerable households in the community. The project also sought to contribute to the overall improvement of the living environment.

The UN refugee agency notes that during the project’s implementation, community engagement activities were implemented alongside the construction efforts to foster a sense of ownership among the beneficiaries and strengthen social cohesion within the community.

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Development | UNDP-backed Bilan Media nominated for top award

Somalia’s first and only all-women media team, Bilan Media, was nominated for the 2023 Index on Censorship Press Freedom Award in the Journalism category.

The nomination came after almost two years of smashing taboos and blazing a trail for women journalists in one of the most dangerous countries to report the news.

Established with support from UNDP, Bilan has provided the first opportunity for Somali women journalists to exercise complete editorial independence, deciding what they want to report and how.

They have already used this freedom to break some of Somalia’s first major stories on a range of previously ignored issues, including the terrifying discrimination against albino communities, the life of HIV-positive Somalis living on the streets, the abuse of female orphans, schools for autistic children and teachers and an epidemic of opiate use among women in Mogadishu.

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UN Security Council | UN Special Representative briefs meeting on Somalia

At UN Headquarters in New York City, the world body’s senior-most official for Somalia, Catriona Laing, briefed the Security Council at its latest meeting on the situation in Somalia.

In her statement, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia covered a range of topics, including political developments, security, women’s participation, the humanitarian situation, economic progress and more.

“I urge all international partners to continue to support Somalia to ensure we lock in the gains achieved so far. The UN remains firmly committed to supporting Somalia to achieve and consolidate peace and prosperity,” Ms. Laing added in her statement.

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United Nations Day | Top UN officials reaffirm support for Somalia

At a press conference marking United Nations Day, the world body’s top officials in Somalia reaffirmed its support for the Somali government and people as the country continues with its state- and peacebuilding efforts.

“As you will all be aware, there are many, many challenges in the world at the moment… [including] numerous challenges on the continent of Africa and some of the challenges we face in Somalia – but the United Nations stands there ready to support in all these challenges,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing.

“We have been here in Somalia pre-independence. We have been here through some of the very tough times that Somalia has faced,” added Ms. Laing.

The UN Special Representative was speaking at a news conference in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. She was accompanied by the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representatives for Somalia, Anita Kiki Gbeho and George Conway, with the latter also serving as the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, and the Head of the UN Support Office for Somalia (UNSOS), Aisa Kacyira.

Celebrated annually on 24 October, UN Day marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter. With the ratification of this founding document by the majority of its signatories, the United Nations officially came into being.

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