Across Somalia, people have lost much of their livestock since the drought started in 2015. Poor families, who have the least resources and ability to adapt, have lost 40–60% of their herds in Somaliland and 20–40% in the rest of the country. The drought has also devastated crops, forcing more than 1.15 million people to leave their homes between January 2016 and May 2018, often only once they had become malnourished and weak.
Beyond familiar social and economic support networks, people’s survival has become precarious, and their efforts to survive have often put them in yet more danger.
Research was conducted in January and February 2018 by seven international and one national non-government organizations (NGOs) in 28 sites for internally displaced persons (IDPs) across 10 regions in Somalia and Somaliland. It shows that drought-related displacement must be viewed as a protection crisis which impacts women, men, boys and girls differently, and has disrupted gender roles and identities. The research underlines how survival strategies are gender- and age-specific, and how resulting dynamics often make individuals more vulnerable to (other) protection threats. Finally, the research shows how individuals’ experiences are heavily influenced by where they are geographically, and how much they move. (See Box 1 for details of the research methods used.)
The research targeted areas where high numbers of internally displaced people had recently arrived. In Somaliland, 85% of households interviewed said they had left their homes due to drought, and 72% said they had arrived in the displacement site in 2017. Of the households interviewed in the rest of the country, 52% said the drought had driven them from their homes, and 51% reported leaving home in 2017. Figures from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, indicate that 69% of displacement since January 2016 has been due to drought – 84% in Somaliland and 66% in the rest of the country. In focus group discussions (FGDs), people repeatedly drew attention to their loss of livestock and crops.
This report breaks down trends between Somaliland and the rest of the country. It starts with a review of the context, and concludes with recommendations for policy makers and practitioners, arguing that humanitarian and development policy and practice needs to be more gender-sensitive and to prioritize safe programming better.