Somaliland | ActionAid UK


  • 98
    98% of women aged 15-19 have had FGM.
  • 11
    1 in 9 children die before their fifth birthday.
  • 28
    28% of girls are married by their 18th birthday.

Life in Somaliland

Women and girls often lack a strong voice in society, as decisions in the home and government are made almost exclusively by men.

In Somaliland, 97% 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.

Somaliland in statistics

  • Somaliland's population is estimated at 3.5 million.3
  • More than a third (38%) of its rural population live in poverty.4
  • Just half of 6 to 13-year-olds go to primary school, and girls are much less likely be enrolled.5
  • Less that 29% of births in rural areas are attended by a skilled health attendant.6 
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Malyuun Ahmed Omer, 30, holding her one year old son Sakeriye-Ahmed

Malyuun Ahmed Omer, 30, and her one-year-old son Sakeriye-Ahmed are suffering from terrible hunger because of El Niño related drought, western Somaliland

Photo: Jennifer Huxta/ActionAid

What we do in Somaliland

Our work in Somaliland displacement camps

  • We are distributing women's survival kits, which include clothes, underwear, soap, torches, baby lotion and whistles.
  • We are providing families with cash transfers, which go directly to women and empower them to decide how best to prioritise their families' needs.
  • We are training women's coalitions in leadership skills, empowering them to lead their camps.

Our work ending hunger in Somaliland

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.

During the East Africa food crisis we supported at least 64,000 people, distibuting 6,000 tonnes including rice, sugar, wheat flour and cooking oil, and thousands of litres of water.

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.

Protecting girls from FGM

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.


Top image: Sabat, 30, lives in a part of Somaliland where there are water reserves below the ground. ActionAid built a well in her village which allows her to access the water and irrigate her farm. Jennifer Huxta/Actionaid