Somalia: World Bank Approves US$50 Million in Support of Emergency Drought Response and Recovery

Wararka Maanta

The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank today approved a US$50 million emergency project – Somalia Emergency Drought Response and Recovery Project (SEDRP, the Project) – to scale up the drought response and recovery effort in Somalia. Somalia is facing its worst drought in decades, with over half the population – an estimated 6.7 million people – in need of humanitarian assistance and recovery support. To deliver the Project, the Bank is supporting the activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a United Nations agency.


While Somalia is at risk of famine, the drought has already had significant impacts. More than 680,000 people have been displaced from rural areas in the past six months. Approximately 1.4 million children will need treatment for acute malnutrition. The scarcity of safe drinking water has led to an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea (AWD) and cholera in 13 out of 18 regions, resulting in 618 fatalities since January 2017, according to UNOCHA. Somalia already has over 1 million internally displaced people, roughly ten percent of the population and continues to experience instability in parts of the country.


In the face of famine, we must react quickly,” said Makhtar Diop, the World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region. “Together with its partners, the World Bank is committed to address immediate needs by providing emergency support to save lives while helping the country recover. To prevent recurrent famines, we must also focus on long-term measures and help Somalia build stronger and more resilient food systems.”


The Project will address the immediate needs of communities affected by the drought as well as supporting early recovery and improved resilience to future shocks. This will be achieved through a surge of high-impact, rapid interventions, including the provision of food, water, cash and essential household items, as well as through the reconstitution of productive assets, production capacity and livelihoods including livestock and farming assets.


“The drought is undermining a fragile period of political, security and development gains in Somalia. This is part of a recurrent cycle of climate related shocks keeping millions vulnerable in the Horn of Africa. We want to recognize the FAO and ICRC for their swift response which has enabled the preparation of this Project in just a few weeks. As a result, activities in the field are already underway to meet the needs on the ground, and to start the recovery,” said Bella Bird, World Bank Country Director for Tanzania, Malawi, Burundi and Somalia.


The Bank and FAO have an existing analytical collaboration in Somalia’s agriculture, fishery and livestock sectors. This is the first time the Bank is providing financing to the ICRC, whose neutral, impartial and independent approach to humanitarian work allows it to serve communities in some of the most remote and difficult areas of the country to reach. The deterioration of food security in Somalia in 2017 has been most significant – and accelerated – in rural areas, where both organizations are already delivering programs including in hard-to-access areas.


Given the arrears outstanding on its international debt, including to the World Bank, the Federal Government of Somalia is in non-accrual status and is currently not eligible for International Development Association (IDA) financing. However, the Board recognized the pressing humanitarian needs and lessons learned from the 2011 famine in Somalia, which pose an exceptional case to take action to save lives and restore the livelihoods of communities threatened by famine. The grant comes from the IDA Crisis Response Window, which provides financing to respond to and recover from severe crises. The grant is part of a broader regional drought response in Africa and Yemen.


The World Bank has a longer term, development-focused engagement in the country, funded through the World Bank-administered Multi Partner Fund and working predominantly through the Somali authorities. The portfolio includes institution-building, economic growth and urban development activities, currently valued at US$154 million, closely coordinated with the donors to the fund, including the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID), the European Union (EU), the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA), the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the Swiss Agency for Development Co-operation (SDC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the World Bank’s State- and Peacebuilding Fund (SPF).These activities are initiating much-needed development activities in Somalia while the country works towards the full normalization of its relations with International Financial Institutions.


* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.3 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about US$19 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.