Stability is needed to improve life for families
Children can grow up in the safety of the SOS Children's Village in Mogadishu (photo: SOS archives)
Somalia used to be one of Africa’s most prosperous and thriving commercial centres, but years of civil war turned it into one of the world’s poorest and most violent countries. In addition to the fighting, famine and diseases shattered social structures and claimed hundreds of thousands lives.
The country had been without an effective government and international efforts aimed at building a stable Somali administration have been unsuccessful.There was great hope, therefore, when in September 2012, 275 members were sworn into Somalia’s first parliament in over 20 years. However, in spite of the new government’s best efforts, the country continues to face many challenges. According to the 2013 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, Somalia is the lowest scoring country in Africa in the four categories assessed: safety and rule of law; participation and human rights; sustainable economic development; and human development.
Somalia – a precarious place to live
Somalis are in need of humanitarian assistance – over one million people are internally displaced and more than half the population lives in abject poverty. In late 2014, the UN warned that food shortages could affect the country again in the near future. The lack of rain, and the unstable political situation which makes the delivery of aid difficult, could result in millions of people being affected.
At 0.5 per cent, the HIV prevalence rate in Somalia represents one of the country’s major health problems. However, over the last years a high number of children have also been affected by outbreaks of cholera, diarrhoea and hepatitis.
Life expectancy at birth is only 52 years for the average Somali citizen. An estimated 85 per cent of the country’s population lives in poverty. Regular access to water, food and sanitation is nothing but wishful thinking for most Somalis. In rural areas, only 6 per cent of the population has access to sanitation facilities.
The majority of Somalis never attend school. Only 37 per cent know how to read and write. Among women, the illiteracy rate is extremely high at 75 per cent.
Children's lives have been damaged by insecurity
Somalia is, demographically speaking, a very young nation, with the median age being 17.8 years. High levels of crime deeply affect Somalia’s youngest segment of population.
At the kindergarten (photo: SOS Archives)
Children in Somalia are exposed to incredibly high levels of violence in their daily lives. It is not uncommon for them to be confronted with dead bodies in the streets of Mogadishu. The psychological effects that such images may have on the mental development of a child are evident.
Schooling is available only to a very limited number of children in Somalia. In fact, Somalia is one of the countries with the lowest school enrolment rates in the entire world. A Somali child aged 7-12 has only about a one in five chance of attending school. On average, children only attend school for 1.8 years. Since the collapse of the country’s last central government in 1991, the school infrastructure has been largely destroyed or abandoned.
At 105 deaths per 1,000 live births, Somalia is affected by one of the world’s highest infant mortality rates. Owing to a virtually non-existent health infrastructure and extraordinary high levels of violence, chances for a Somali child to survive into adulthood are among the lowest in the world.
Undernourishment, lack of potable water, no sanitation infrastructure and life-threatening diseases are only some of the hardships that most Somali children have to put up with.
SOS Children's Villages in Somalia
The activities of SOS Children’s Villages International in Somalia started off in 1983 when an agreement was signed with the former Somali government. Our work in Somalia has been extremely challenging due to the unstable security situation in the country.
During the worst episodes of fighting, we ensured that the children were safe by moving them to other places in Mogadishu. In 2011-2012 we ran an emergency programme with supported around 177,000 people affected by famine and drought.
We currently support the population by strengthening families so that they can stay together, and providing loving homes in SOS families for children who have lost parental care. Older children join the youth programme. In addition we run a kindergarten and primary and secondary school in Mogadishu. The SOS Community Nursing School has been training nurses and midwives since 2002. We also provide medical care in both Mogadishu and Baidoa, especially to local mothers and children.
SOS Children's Villages Somalia
Wadajir District, Off Airport Road
Bulo Hubey P.O Box 599