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Strengthening climate resilience through collaborative partnerships: A blueprint for Somalia's future

UNDP Somalia

Years of conflict, underinvestment, and the ravages of climate change-induced natural disasters have taken a severe toll on Somalia, jeopardizing lives, livelihoods, and biodiversity.

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From 2021 to 2023, Somalia faced an unprecedented drought and floods, marked by five consecutive failed rainy seasons, impacting 7.8 million people—nearly half of the nation's population.

Somalia grapples with an alarming deforestation rate of approximately 35,000 hectares per year, leading to the annual felling of 4.375 million trees. Environmental issues such as access to water, rapid urbanization, poor waste management, land degradation, depletion of marine resources and pollution exacerbate the situation, with overgrazing, soil erosion, and deforestation contributing to socio-political challenges.

In partnership and with funding from the European Union, Norway, Sweden, Japan and the vertical funds such as Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Green Climate Fund (GCF), UNDP has been working hand in hand with the Somali government to empower communities and institutions to protect the environment, foster clean energy, and brace for climate change.

Over the past years, guided by the National Development Plan 9, we supported the development of key policies, strategies, and frameworks, including the National Climate Change Policy, National Environment Management Act, Charcoal Policy, the National Water Resources Strategy, the Solid Waste Management Strategy and Action Plan, the Somalia Nationally Determined Contribution and National Adaptation Plans. With our backing, 10,151 households underwent a transition to eco-friendly and sustainable energy sources. This initiative, primarily targeting households led by women (95%), involved the adoption of fuel-efficient stoves, alternatives to charcoal, and solar solutions, resulting in significantly reduced deforestation and charcoal consumption and the creation of new employment opportunities.

Across Somalia, climate change means that droughts are becoming much more frequent and prolonged. In response, UNDP has constructed 10 dams with elevated water tanks, solar systems, and animal troughs in order to help Somali local communities deal with the effects. UNDP Photos / Tobin Jones

Through media campaigns, we helped sensitize over 2 million people to sustainable natural resource management, leading to reduced charcoal demand. We also facilitated the transition of 5,000 households to alternative livelihoods like vegetable farming, beekeeping, and fodder production. The expansion and integration of solar energy as an alternative solution have proven effective in reducing energy costs. For example, the implementation of solar power systems in five hospitals played a pivotal role in cutting down energy expenses while simultaneously improving operational capacity.

We also actively worked on capacity development, engaging with 17 government institutions and over 3,200 participants comprising policymakers, practitioners, women, youth, and representatives from civil societies and private sectors in environmental management, disaster risk reduction, and water management. Capacity-building support for operationalizing the National Emergency Operation Centre helped monitoring the worsening drought and famine situation and response actions in the country. We also provided technical, operational, and equipment support for setting up two early warning systems in Somaliland and Puntland.

We played a key role in preparing Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction plans for four vulnerable cities and implementing local DRR funding frameworks in nine high-risk districts. Our support extended to the drafting of Somalia's National DRR plan, showcasing a comprehensive government-wide strategy to mitigate risks in disaster and climate-vulnerable regions.

We also helped improve access and availability of water to vulnerable communities through the construction of medium-scale water infrastructures. Over 21,340 women-headed households have benefited from interventions aimed at protecting livelihoods from drought and floods and ensuring access to reliable sources of water and sustainable energy.

To reduce the impacts of climate change on communities, we supported the construction of reservoirs and dams across the country, keeping people and livestock alive during droughts and building resilience.

Climate-smart water harvesting infrastructures, such as wells, canals, and a water desalination plant, have been strategically employed to adapt to climate change, benefiting 4,600 households, including over 2,250 women-headed households.

Nearly 63,000 households, with 52% being women-headed, have experienced positive outcomes through the implementation of nature-based solutions aimed at safeguarding the local livelihoods of vulnerable groups.

Across Somalia, we helped rehabilitate 6285 ha of rangelands to restore their productivity.

We also helped develop a first-ever scholarship program for master’s degrees in environmental studies at Amoud University and launched Somalia's first Master of Science in Integrated Water Resources Management at Somali National University. In its first year, 29 national students, with a 30% representation of women, successfully completed their courses in climate change, environmental studies, and natural resource management.

Thanks to funding from core partners, UNDP is actively engaged in promoting environmental peacebuilding and supporting climate adaptation efforts with a focus on fostering peace. One key priority involves addressing the intersection of youth and climate security. A pilot project on climate security was just completed in collaboration with the Berghof Foundation and Save the Children, resulting in the creation of climate security action plans tailored to specific areas: Beledweyne, Eyl District, and Waxada 3aad, Khada District. These plans address community concerns, including the need for more inclusive decision-making processes, mediation, and strategies to tackle youth unemployment.

This year, we remain dedicated to advancing risk-informed, climate-resilient development. Our focus includes strengthening resilience to climate change and disaster risks at all levels through policy support, reinforced institutions, and initiatives for resilient livelihoods. Additionally, our commitment to green and inclusive development involves collaboration to enhance capacities in environmental governance, pollution mitigation, and ecosystem restoration, with a focus on improving water governance and promoting urban resilience.

This comprehensive approach seeks to lay the foundation for a sustainable and resilient Somalia, where communities thrive, nature is preserved, and the impacts of climate change are effectively mitigated.

It highlights the transformative power of international collaboration and the crucial role of partnerships in building a brighter future for nations facing complex challenges.

The joint efforts of governments, international organizations, and local communities demonstrate that by working together, we can overcome even the most daunting challenges and pave the way for a sustainable and prosperous future.

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