- The operational environment is characterized by shrinking access, consecutive seasons of drought and unprecedented funding shortfalls.
- Humanitarian needs have increased dramatically from an affected population of 1.8 million in January 2008 to 3.6 million in October 2009.
- Some 75% of the people in need are concentrated in South Central Somalia, where most of the fighting is taking place.
- The epicentre of the drought crisis is in the Central Region, caused by five consecutive seasons of poor rains leading to drought.
- There is also a severe deterioration in the food and nutrition situation in the North due to an emerging drought after three consecutive seasons of below normal rainfall. An estimated 255,000 people are in acute food and livelihood crisis.
- Attacks, looting and occupation of humanitarian compounds in South Central Somalia have increased over recent months. Ten aid workers remain in captivity in Somalia and nine perished in 2009 prior to publication.
While emergency programmes remain the core of OCHA response activities, strategies to support Somali coping mechanisms and prevent a further depletion of assets require greater prominence. OCHA 2010 coordination priorities will include an increased emphasis on humanitarian partner capacity-building and a focus on a livelihoods approach to emergency programming.
The challenges facing Somalia necessitate constant analysis and strategy adjustments, squarely within the OCHA comparative advantage. The humanitarian community must be more adept at analysing risk and carefully balancing it against acute and changing needs. In 2010, OCHA will provide timely information and rigorous analysis for HC and humanitarian country team decision-making and on-the-ground coordination. Coordination and leadership through the humanitarian country team and clusters will remain essential to emergency response and basic services delivery in 2010. OCHA will build upon the successes of 2009. It will support the further reinforcement in monitoring and evaluation, at all levels, to improve the accountability and transparency of humanitarian operations.
Recognizing the links between the clusters and the importance of leveraging them for better programming, OCHA will support complementary cluster activities, to ensure joint planning and common targeting of vulnerable populations. OCHA will also ensure that humanitarian concerns are taken into consideration in the framework of integrated UN planning and coordination in Somalia. In 2009, OCHA was particularly effective in managing the HRF ($20 million) and CERF to fill strategic gaps. Eighty-four percent of funds were provided to the priority clusters of Health, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Livelihoods. In 2010, the HRF will continue to play a key role in support of the HC and HCT and the clusters, particularly if the dire funding shortfall is not promptly overcome.
Preparedness and contingency planning are essential given natural and man-made emergencies that often transcend national borders. OCHA support to local authorities in Puntland and Somaliland will serve to link planning scenarios to response plans, and help reinforce local capacity and response systems. OCHA will support cross border contingency plans, response strategy development, and information sharing initiatives – particularly with the humanitarian community in Kenya. Planning will focus on core issues of common concern including, but not limited to, population movements, security, disease surveillance, drought and food insecurity.
Finally, OCHA will continue to support humanitarian actors to implement the strategy of “operational flexibility”. Such flexibility will serve to increase the opportunities and ability for rapid implementation in areas where access is achieved, and relocate as necessary. OCHA will strive for greater implementation and compliance with the shared principles of humanitarian access negotiations. A transparent approach that manages risk and balances it against the scale of humanitarian need is required. In this manner, humanitarian action may be fully understood by all those who influence humanitarian outcomes.
Humanitarian Access Analysis
OCHA monitors access conditions to assess changes and trends. The “Access Coefficient” is based on eight indicators: international staff presence (UN & INGOs), UN staff movements, security assessments, humanitarian flights, check-points, security incidents (last six months), and stability of the area.
For each district, each of these indicators is evaluated based on standardized assessments. In broad terms, access in the North and North/East (Somaliland and Puntland respectively) is better than any region in South/Central Somalia. While numerous factors might explain this difference, a dominant factor is that the North and North/East are governed and controlled by a single political entity, with no serious challenger to that authority.
South/Central has significant and on-going power struggles that directly or indirectly impact humanitarian workers and activities. In isolation, indicators such as staff presence and road blocks could suggest that access has improved; however, reviewed as a whole, the indicators indicate a more nuanced picture. Overall in areas where access previously existed such as in the North and North/East, positive strides have occurred.
In areas where access was very limited, such as in Mogadishu or in the South, inroads were either made, or stifled, because of general insecurity and direct targeting. While the humanitarian community was able to maintain its programmes primarily through the work of national staff or Somali NGO partners, there is still limited capacity to ensure programmatic follow-up and monitor activities.