Map of the East Africa crisis in Somalia
The number of people affected by the food crisis in Somalia, where ActionAid is responding in the region of Somaliland.
Why we work in Somaliland
Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 after a war which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. Although Somaliland has its own government, police force, and business sector, it is yet to be recognised internationally. Unemployment is widespread, almost three-quarters of the population live below the poverty line, and around a tenth of children die before their first birthday.
In 1992, ActionAid Somaliland opened its first office and began working with eight partners in three regions to rebuild conflict scarred communities and equip women with the tools they need to combat injustice.
Somaliland is incredibly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions and regularly suffers from drought. Since half of Somaliland's rural population are nomadic pastoralists who rely on livestock rearing, hunger is rife. In the 2011 drought, almost two-thirds of pastoralists lost their livelihoods and had to move into towns. As at March 2017, drought is causing a potentially catastrophic humanitarian crisis in Somaliland.
9898% of women aged 15-19 have had FGM.
111 in 9 children die before their fifth birthday.
2828% of girls are married by their 18th birthday.
Women and girls lack a strong voice in society, as decisions in the home and government are made almost exclusively by men. In Somaliland, 97 percent of girls aged between four and 11 have endured female genital mutilation (FGM), a brutal procedure that can cause death and countless health complications.
Low literacy rates and limited awareness of legal rights also make women vulnerable to domestic violence and sexual abuse. After the war, Somaliland’s education system collapsed. While schools are reopening and primary school enrolment increasing, the quality of education is poor and many teachers remain unqualified.
What we do in Somaliland
East Africa Crisis Appeal
So far ActionAid has supported 13,000 people suffering from the drought, including the distribution of food, such as rice, sugar, wheat flour and cooking oil. But the situation is critical and more support is desperately needed. Please give to our appeal now.
ActionAid works to end hunger among small farmers and pastoralists in Somaliland. We work mainly with women who are left to fend for themselves when men migrate to cities or coastal regions in search of water for cattle. We provide tools such as rakes, pickaxes and tractor rental to help increase harvests and improve nutrition.
We support women to strengthen wells destroyed in the war, helping communities have access to safe and regular water, and saving women and girls' time that they can then use to make a living.
Getting children into school
In 2014, we ran a campaign which brought education ministers face to face with more than 1,000 parents to discuss how to get children into school. ActionAid now works with parents and teachers to build classrooms and separate toilets for girls and boys, and with the Ministry of Education to develop training programmes for newly qualified teachers. These raise awareness of the importance of girl’s education, and challenge the view that FGM and early marriage are safe ways to protect girls from pre-marital sex.
Supporting women to earn a living
ActionAid Somaliland links women’s rights to making a living. We support women to start business cooperatives and run their own enterprises, through ActionAid’s ‘Revolving Fund’. This contains enough funds to enable 10 women to start small businesses such as rearing and selling livestock, selling milk, and opening small shops and snack bars. Once the loan is paid back, the funds are passed on to another woman.
Protecting girls from FGM
The prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) in Somaliland is 98%. We are working to end FGM in Somaliland by helping communities to learn and openly talk about its damaging effects, running youth groups to help boys and girls speak up to end FGM, and supporting groups to lobby governments to help pass anti-FGM laws.
Women are at the centre of our work, but to end FGM we need whole communities to say no, so including men is essential. Through our work, teenage boys and men are publically declaring that they will not marry women who have had the cut and are being powerful ambassadors.
How we’re changing lives for good in Somaliland
Meet some of the women we work with in Somaliland.
Supporting women affected by the East Africa food crisis
Nimo and her children walked for eight days in search of water. What they found instead was a trail of carcasses.
"I breastfeed my six-month-old son, but he cannot get enough milk as I don't have food."
Our ActionAid Somaliland staff are on the ground right now, distributing food and water to families like Nimo's, but we urgently need your support to help us reach more people affected by this devastating crisis.
Support our East Africa Food Crisis Appeal
You may also be interested in…
When emergencies strike ActionAid provides immediate relief as well as rebuilding for the long term.
Read the latest stories from girls, projects and communities we work with.
Find out how you can support a child, and their community, through child sponsorship.