The 2017 pre-famine response in Somalia: progress on reform?

Research reports and studies
January 2019
Maxine Clayton, Ahmed Abdi Ibrahim and Badra Yusuf

The 2011 famine in Somalia caused massive displacement and loss of life. By July 2011, 3.2 million people were in need of life-saving assistance, the great majority – an estimated 2.8 million people – in the south of the country. Some 260,000 people died.

In 2017, drought struck areas including Somaliland and Puntland, as well as the Southern and Central regions affected in 2011. More than twice as many people as in 2011 lost livelihoods or access to basic services, yet the consensus is that the pre-famine response in 2017 was a vast improvement over that of 2011 and previous crises. 

The overarching objective of this independent study, commissioned by the Somalia NGO Consortium and led by Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) at ODI, was to review the collective humanitarian response to the pre-famine crisis in Somalia in 2017 to  inform and improve current and future operations and performance.

The review was conducted through the lens of three commitments under the Grand Bargain agreed at the World Humanitarian Summit: the ‘participation revolution’, increased multi-year planning and funding and enhanced engagement between humanitarian and development actors. The review uses two levels of analysis:

  • An assessment of the achievements of and challenges in the response in light of lessons identified as part of earlier evaluations of similar responses in Somalia (specifically the response to the 2011 famine).
  • An analysis of progress on global commitments, in particular the three Grand Bargain workstreams, to understand whether these commitments have helped or undermined the response in key priority areas.

The review highlights specific examples of good practice, analyses areas of common challenge and provides specific recommendations under each workstream, both to employ immediately and to consider at a systemic level and over the longer term.