In the absence of a stable government and in the midst of a complex risk environment, Somalia is  demonstrating progress through the relative vibrancy of its private sector. Investments in critical sectors, such as livestock markets and savings groups, are building resilience capacities that are critical to helping vulnerable households in Somalia meet basic needs, reduce malnutrition, and protect livelihoods.

woman holding goat


Since the government’s collapse in 1991, Somalia has consistently been one of the lowest performing countries in the world in terms of economic growth and human development. Conflict, drought, and poor infrastructure, combined with a lack of effective governance, create a complex risk environment where recurring crises continually require emergency assistance.

Despite the government’s collapse, opportunities for progress have opened up through renewed vibrancy in critical sectors of Somalia’s economy. Evidence suggests investments in livestock markets and savings groups are having positive effects on the resilience capacities of individuals, households, and communities through the strengthening of absorptive and adaptive capacities.

Complex Risk Environment

Since 1991, Somalia has faced chronic food insecurity, widespread violence, and recurring droughts and floods resulting in some of the worst famines in recent history. Acute malnutrition levels remain among the highest in the world, and ongoing insecurity in the country – particularly in areas lacking established local authorities and where al-Shabaab is present – contributes to the complex risk environment. Sustained life-saving assistance, integrated with interventions aimed at building resilience, are critical to helping vulnerable households meet basic needs, reduce malnutrition, and protect livelihoods.

Resilience Approach

Resilience-building activities in Somalia are designed to increase food security, reduce malnutrition, and protect livelihoods. In the agriculture sector, training farmers and local agribusinesses in crop production and quality control helps increase exports of agricultural goods and increases job opportunities in sub-national regions recovering from conflict.

In addition, community savings groups and cash-for-work activities enable communities to generate revenue and improve household nutrition through sustainable access to capital. The cumulative resilience impacts and spillover effects of growth in these areas are increasing food security, contributing to the reduction of malnutrition, and protecting livelihoods.

Opportunities for Strengthening Resilience

Research shows that building people’s resilience to complex risk variables is most effective when done through a mixture of activities that increase income and assets; provide an early humanitarian response; and support safety net programming. Continued monitoring and evaluation of the impacts and cost-effectiveness of packages of resilience-building interventions is required to find the best combination of interventions in a particular context. In addition, a much broader perspective on adaptive investments that are responsive to the multiple and changing needs of households and communities is required to ensure resilience gains are effectively protected and sustained.

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