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Resilience in Somalia

The devastating drought of 2011, coming on the heels of droughts in 2008 and 2006 together with the political upheaval, highlighted the weak human and institutional capacity, lack of effective policies, rules, regulations and legislative arrangements that increased the instability and fragmentation of the country. This left those already vulnerable with less access to life-saving humanitarian support, leading to large population displacement which further put pressure on scarce resources within the region.
However, the 2011 drought and famine helped galvanize a sustained commitment to Somalia’s future by regional and global actors which has led, among other developments, to agenda of building resilience. In September 2011, the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) helped launch a regional platform for a 15-yearDrought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI) and corresponding Country Programme Papers (CPPs) linked to the national development strategies and other sustainable development initiatives

SomReP's response

The Somali Resilience Program (SomReP) is a resilience building consortium which aims to address the underlying causes and impacts of vulnerability to climatic shocks and other related stressors. Following the Somali famine of 2011, NGOs and donors came together to share best practices to develop a multi-sector, multi-year, area-based program with graduation pathways which bridge the humanitarian-to-development nexus . The consortium undertakes layered and sequenced interventions which build absorptive, adaptive and transformative capacity at household, community, state and system levels. The program targets the ultra-poor across livelihood groups, including agro-pastoralists, pastoralists, fisher-folk and IDP and host communities with a special emphasis on women, youth, persons with disabilities and the marginalized. SomReP works in the sectors of disaster risk management, climate smart agriculture, productive assets development, natural resource management, basic health/nutrition services, shock responsive safety nets, green technologies, economic empowerment and market systems development. It is an iterative, learning consortium which measures the impact of resilience interventions and employs evidence to adapt approaches, scale effective interventions and promote understanding of best practices at local, regional and international levels with civil society, government and academia. The consortium hosts the Response Innovation Lab (SomRIL), an outward-facing innovation brokerage which convenes NGO, private sector, and government challenge-holders and local, regional and global solution-providers to identify innovations and adapt them to solve Somali problems.

The SomReP strengthens governance structures important for building resilience from the bottom-up in Somaliland, Puntland, Hirshabelle, Southwest and Jubaland states. Long-term engagement with communities, employing participatory facilitation methods through a climate and gender sensitive lens, combined with a flexible crisis modifier mechanism, enables the program to lay the foundations for inclusive development, while remaining flexible to address emerging humanitarian needs to protect gains: making it uniquely relevant for resilience building in a fragile context faced with recurrent shocks. The program employs graduation pathways with packages of interventions to support households, groups and communities to strengthen disaster risk management capacity, obtain lasting food security, develop alternative and sustainable livelihoods, prepare for market entry, and to find and/or create jobs.

Resilience capacity building

Resilience is an emergent topic, and the SomReP consortium has closely studied the latest academic thinking, which is accelerating as more donors commit to resilience as a strategic and funding priority globally. In particular, SomReP has linked closely with the donors and academic institutions studying resilience as part of the Food Security Information Network’s global Resilience Measurement Technical Working Group (RM-TWG), as this is the preeminent body working to harmonize thinking on resilience and its measurement. 

SomReP has adapted the RM-TWG’s latest thinking, which shows resilience is built by building the three key capacities in households and communities.

Absorptive capacity improvement

In contexts of repeated shocks, people’s livelihoods and productive assets are constantly being eroded. In order to build resilience, first a stable foundation of productive livelihood activities and assets needs to be established from which improvements can be made. SomReP endeavours to strengthen existing livelihoods and also improve livelihood assets and outcomes in the course of normal seasonal cycles

Adaptive capacity improvement

SomReP seeks to enhance the risk awareness, mitigation, and management of the target HHs and communities through community based disaster risk reduction activities, and linking these to the creation or strengthening of existing informal safety nets. Informal safety nets include self-help groups, Village Savings and Loans, and the use of remittances for community projects and vulnerable household needs.

Transformative capacity improvement

Good, responsive, and accountable governance is essential for ensuring basic services and infrastructure are in place to allow for the development of resilient productive capacities, as well as support systems to allow people to cope during times of stress and crisis. It is also vital for ensuring information flows to support people to be agents of change in their own lives, rather than passive victims of drought and instability

Programme impact to date

Consortium members

Each SomReP member has a distinct added value for the Consortium. World Vision is the prime and specialist in grant and financial management for the Consortium. World Vision is also an expert in sustainable agriculture, small business development and savings groups. Adventist Development & Relief Agency (ADRA) specializes in technical vocational training and renewable energy. Action Against Hunger (AAH) provides the Consortium with food and nutrition safety net expertise. CARE are experts in water and natural resource management. Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI) provides the Consortium with livestock and veterinary health support. Danish Refugee Council (DRC) leads cash safety net programming and durable solutions in Somalia. Oxfam has developed a new national strategy for youth and women employment. Oxfam is also globally known for gender empowerment and youth employment.


AAH has been conducting humanitarian programs in Somalia since 1992. Currently, their activities focus on treating and preventing malnutrition, increasing access to clean water and appropriate sanitation, strengthening food security and livelihoods and thus boosting the resilience of communities in Somalia as well as rapid emergency response. 


ADRA Somalia has been operating in Somalia since 1992 implementing emergency relief and development interventions. Their portfolio is in water and sanitation, education, energy and livelihoods, food security and relief interventions. Within this, ADRA emphasis on integration of key thematic areas such as resilience, conflict mitigation, gender mainstreaming, renewable energy approaches and capacity development in its programming.


CARE has been providing emergency relief and lifesaving assistance to the Somali people since 1981. Their main program activities since then have included projects in water and sanitation, sustainable pastoralist activities, civil society and media development, small-scale enterprise development, primary school education, teacher training, adult literacy and vocational training.


COOPI aims to contribute to the process of fighting poverty, developing communities, intervening in situations of emergency, reconstruction and development, in order to achieve a better balance between developed areas and deprived or developing areas. In Somalia they operate to strengthen the resilience and economic development of communities. This is through trainings such as good agricultural practices and creation of saving groups which allow beneficiaries to access capital required to start new entrepreneurial activities.


DRC is among the INGOs with the largest presence in Somalia. This has enabled them to respond rapidly to recurrent crises and the needs of Somalis affected by humanitarian crises. Since, 2013 DRC Somalia has been implementing a resilience programme through SomReP with the objective of improving household resilience to drought and other related risks.  This has been through trainings, building of community infrastructure and government institutional structures and provision of start-up capital to women’s groups to enable them to build marketable businesses.


Oxfam wants to see a Somalia where poor women and youth are able to thrive and survive in safety and dignity in spite of the stresses and shocks they face. Building on their humanitarian relief work in the country, their livelihoods work helps to build and strengthen the resilience of communities to shocks by ensuring there is adequate linkage between relief and development. Their focus is on supporting the livestock sector, arable farming, natural resource management, alternative livelihoods and climate change adaptation

World Vision

Since 1993, World Vision has been working in areas of Somalia with the highest levels of child poverty. Its goal is to achieve long lasting benefits in the quality of life for vulnerable children and their families, displaced persons, and communities using a development approach that increases participation, understanding and unity among people of different cultures while promoting the rights and interests of Somali children. In response to the humanitarian needs of the Somali people, World Vision designs and delivers programs coordinated at regional and country levels by dedicated staff that provides strategic and operational support.

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