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This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.

This section contains a summary of issues in Somalia, statistics and feature stories; for detailed local information, news and updates, go to the UNICEF Somalia website.

The lack of a permanent central government has contributed to Somalia’s status as one of the poorest and most volatile countries in the world. One of the most serious droughts since the 1970s has affected large parts of the country, exacerbating hardships for rural populations.

Issues facing children in Somalia

  • Infant and maternal mortality rates are among the world’s highest. The under five mortality rate is a staggering 225 per 1,000 live births. The main causes of death are diarrhoeal diseases, respiratory infections and malaria (an estimated 87 per cent of Somalis are at risk of malaria).
  • Less than 30 per cent of the country has access to safe water. Malnutrition is rampant; acute malnutrition afflicts 17 per cent of children.
  • The nomadic lifestyle of Somalia’s rural population makes regular immunization programmes difficult to implement. Measles and cholera are serious threats against which few have been vaccinated.
  • Net primary school enrolment is estimated at only 13 per cent for boys – and only 7 per cent for girls.
  • Clan rivalries have internally displaced 375,000 people, forcing them into tenuous living situations where they face hunger and human-rights abuses.

Activities and results for children

  • An $8.8 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria made possible the first-ever comprehensive approach to malaria. The project uses a combination of policy, prevention, treatment, education and monitoring.
  • UNICEF and its partners distributed nearly 33,000 insecticide-treated bednets to prevent malaria, delivered vaccines against measles and diphtheria, and provided vitamin A supplements to more than a million children.
  • The Safe Motherhood Project distributed more than 20,000 Clean Delivery Kits to improve safety during childbirth, especially for home deliveries.
  • UNICEF and its partners procured hundreds of tons of food to provide nutritious meals for approximately 11,000 malnourished children each month.
  • UNICEF is training community leaders in counselling in hopes of staving off an HIV/AIDS epidemic before it can start.
  • The construction of two urban water-supply systems provided nearly 200,000 people with access to clean water. Another 33,000 people benefited from training in hygienic hand-washing and safe handling of drinking water.
  • UNICEF and its partners have created an innovative network of child-protection advocates to aid vulnerable children in more than 75 communities. Action plans have been developed on issues like sexual abuse, female genital mutilation and child prostitution.








View video report

1 June 2004 Interview with UNICEF Senior Programme Officer Leila Pakkala on the situation in Somalia.

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Basic Indicators

Under-5 mortality rank


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 1990


Under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), 2012


U5MR by sex 2012, male


U5MR by sex 2012, female


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 1990


Infant mortality rate (under 1), 2012


Neonatal mortality rate 2012


Total population (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of births (thousands) 2012


Annual no. of under-5 deaths (thousands) 2012


GNI per capita (US$) 2012


Life expectancy at birth (years) 2012


Total adult literacy rate (%) 2008-2012*

Primary school net enrolment ratio (%) 2008-2011*

Definitions and data sources [popup]

Source: The State of the World's Children

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