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Map of Somalia
UNICEF photo: a girl looks up at camera as her mother holds en empty cooking pan © UNICEF Somalia/2017/Holt A mother displaced from her home by the continuing drought shows her family has nothing to eat.


In 2017, UNICEF and partners plan for:

children under 5 with SAM admitted for treatment


people provided with access to emergency health care services

1.5 million

people provided with temporary access to safe water (7.5–15 litres per person per day)

2017 Requirements: US$147,918,410

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Total people in need: 6.2 million
Total children (<18) in need: 3.7 million

Total people to be reached in 2017: 5.5 million1
Total children to be reached in 2017: 1.7 million

The humanitarian situation in Somalia is rapidly deteriorating due to the severe drought that started in the north in 2016 and is now affecting most of the country. Over 6.2 million people are facing acute food insecurity2 and the number of people in need of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) assistance will likely rise to 4.5 million by April 2017. Reduced access to clean drinking water contributes to malnutrition, and brings with it an increased risk of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD)/cholera. More than 11,000 cases of AWD/cholera have already been reported across 12 southern regions and Puntland since the start of the year, five times more than from a similar period in 2016. The drought is also uprooting people, with 250,000 displaced since November 2016, adding to the 1.1 million already internally displaced.3 In addition, people are also crossing into Ethiopia and Kenya. The situation is especially grave for children. Close to 1 million children under five will be acutely malnourished in 2017, including 185,000 severely malnourished, which may increase to over 270,000 if famine is not averted.4 Malnourished children will also be particularly vulnerable to measles. Children are dropping out of school, with 30,000 reported so far, and are at risk of violence, especially when on the move.

Humanitarian strategy

2017 revised programme targets


  • 277,000 children under 5 with SAM admitted for treatment9
  • 75 per cent of children with SAM who received treatment and recovered


  • 340,000 children under 5 vaccinated against measles
  • 731,000 people provided with access to emergency health care services
  • 27,500 AWD/cholera cases treated at facility level and treatment centres


  • 1.5 million people provided with temporary access to safe water (7.5–15 litres per person per day)10
  • 1.5 million people provided with means to access appropriate hygiene practices through hygiene kits

Child protection

  • 6,885 separated and unaccompanied children identified and registered
  • 3,803 GBV survivors accessing a package of services


  • 87,600 children accessing safe and protected learning opportunities in emergency-affected environments
  • 63,000 children accessing safe drinking water in schools

Cash transfers

  • 60,000 emergency-affected households (420,000 people) provided with monthly cash transfers to support access to basic services

UNICEF has revised its humanitarian strategy for 2017 to focus on immediate life-saving measures needed to advert famine. The strategy builds on lessons from the 2011 famine response, including the need for timely action to prevent excess mortality. UNICEF’s response is aligned with the interagency Operational Plan for Pre-Famine Scale-Up, although UNICEF’s projection are until the end of 2017.5 Together with the Government, UNICEF is coordinating and scaling-up its interventions with line ministries, disaster management agencies and relevant clusters.6 With partners, UNICEF is prioritizing a core intervention based on an integrated WASH, health and nutrition response, through the procurement of life-saving supplies, an increase in partnerships and the expansion coverage to enable delivery of critical services in the most affected areas.7 To avert a deterioration in health conditions, and prevent measles outbreaks, UNICEF is expanding coverage to reach more children through mobile and outreach clinics. UNICEF will accelerate response to the AWD/cholera outbreak by supporting set of cholera treatment centres and prepositioning supplies for treatment. Social mobilisation activities will also focus on AWD/cholera hotspot areas. UNICEF’s response is complemented with education interventions and monitoring of child separation with a focus on families on the move. In line with Grand Bargain commitments, cash-based assistance will be prioritized.8

UNICEF results to date

In the first two months of 2017, UNICEF has US$67.4 million available against its original appeal.11 With funding available, UNICEF and partners have focused on preventing and treating acute malnutrition through a strategic partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP) and timely pre-positioning of nutrition supplies. Through 80 partnership agreements across 95 per cent of the affected areas, UNICEF is targeting 1.7 million people with emergency life-saving primary healthcare and immunisation services, and has developed a joint response with WFP for cash transfers, designed to benefit 420,000 individuals. UNICEF is also supporting 578 Outpatient Therapeutic Centres and 41 Stabilization Centres across Somalia, out of a planned 700 sites. UNICEF and partners have supported the admission of over 30,000 children with SAM for treatment, and provided over 107,000 women and children provided with emergency life-saving health services. In response to the AWD/cholera outbreak, 5,000 cases have been treated, and 34 cholera treatment centers and units supported. More than 360,000 people have been provided with temporary access to safe water and close to 28,000 children and adolescents (33 per cent girls) have been supported with access to education in emergencies. In addition, over 285 separated and unaccompanied children have been identified and registered, and 660 survivors of GBV (87 per cent female), have been provided with appropriate support.

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Funding requirements

UNICEF has revised its Humanitarian Action for Children (HAC) requirements for Somalia from US$66.1 million to US$147.9 million to meet the increased humanitarian needs of children due to the rapidly deteriorating drought situation that is now affecting most of the country. HAC requirements have been increased to scale-up life-saving assistance and to avert a famine. The HAC appeal is operationally aligned to the six month Somalia Operational Plan for Pre-Famine Scale-up of Humanitarian Assistance, while the UNICEF projections cover until the end of the year. UNICEF has a current funding gap of 54 per cent against the revised appeal. Continued, predictable, flexible and timely donor support is critical to scaling-up the response and averting a famine. UNICEF has prepositioned essential supplies in affected areas at facility level and with partners. However additional resources are urgently required as health and nutrition facilities are receiving more children in need as the food security and nutrition situation continues to deteriorate, and to support safe hygiene practices as the number of AWD/cholera cases drastically increases. The consequences of underfunding can be irreversible. Without additional funding, UNICEF and partners will not be able to provide life-saving treatment for up to 277,000 severely malnourished children, and 1.5 million people will not have access to safe water. Funding is also required for education in emergencies to support nearly 87,000 children and adolescents. The funding will also support the prevention and response to disease outbreaks as well as address the needs of populations displaced by conflict.

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1 Total people in need: This reflects the population all partners will reach in Somalia as part of the Operational Famine Prevention Plan. UNICEF aims to reach 3.2 million people, including 1.7 million children.
2 The FSNAU-FEWSNET Post Deyr (2016/2017) results indicate that there are currently 6.2 million people in need of assistance, representing more than half of the population, and a sharp increase of the population in need (5 million six months ago). This includes 2.9 million people in crisis and emergency (IPC 3 and 4). Should the 2017 Gu season perform very poorly, and humanitarian assistance not reach populations affected by drought, there is a risk of famine (IPC Phase 5) unfolding in the second half of 2017.
3 Somalia Humanitarian Snapshot as of March 2017
4 The burden of acute malnutrition (MAM and SAM) in 2017 is projected at 944,000 acutely malnourished children, including 185,000 severely malnourished. The burden of SAM is expected to increase by 50% the coming months to 277,000 SAM cases, and possibly to 370,000 under a worst case scenario.
5 Somalia Operational Plan for pre-Famine Scale-up of Humanitarian Assistance (Jan - Jun 2017)
6 Where possible, UNICEF is responding jointly with WFP through an augmented response package which includes unconditional food assistance, preventive and curative nutrition programmes, livelihood activities, health services, and support to communities to access safe water and improve sanitation and hygiene conditions with the overall objective to halt the deteriorating food security and malnutrition situation in drought affected areas.
7 The priority regions are: Bay, Bakool, Galgadud, Mudug, Sanaag, Bari and Nugal due to the worsening nutrition situation for children under 5.
8 UNICEF Somalia is increasing its use of the SCOPE platform, which allows for registration of beneficiaries at the household level biometrically. This will allow UNICEF and WFP to support the same households with a range of services that beneficiaries can access using one single card (e.g. food and water, food and cash). For the pre-famine response, this approach will be used for the provision of safe water through water vouchers, cash grants to support affected schools, as well as monthly cash transfers to support affected households in accessing services in the most affected regions.
9 UNICEF has based its target for treating children with SAM on the worst case scenario, which is estimated at 370,000 (UNICEF will target 75% of the estimated worst case scenario), as per the Somalia Operational Plan for Pre-Famine Scale-Up in 2017.
10 The 1.5 million WASH target will reach approximately 660,000 children.
11 Available funds include funding received against the original appeal of US$49.1 million and US$18.3 million carried forward from the previous year. Carry forward was due to multi-year funding planned for 2016/2017 implementation and generous contributions received in late December 2016.