IFAD's strategy in Somalia

Somalia's  poverty  and  food  security  situation remains critical after years of conflict and  natural disasters. Since the  1980s, IFAD has supported nine  programmes in the country for a total  of US$140  million.


There is currently no country strategic opportunities programme for Somalia. However, the  strategic  objectives of IFAD interventions in Somalia can be summarized as follows:

  • Increase incomes and food security by supporting agriculture and related activities, improving access to water, sanitation and health care, strengthening the natural resource base and building rural  financial services;
  • Identify and promote pro-poor investment mechanisms in rural areas for dissemination, replication and scaling up;
  • Build the capacity of the diaspora and  promote the transformation of people in the diaspora into agents of development through remittances – the portion of their earnings that migrants outside the country send  home.


IFAD interventions emphasize the importance of making water available for irrigation and livestock. For instance, sand dams have been built to enable farming throughout the year.


Access to rural finance has been successful in the empowerment of rural women and  the entire community. Another strategic priority is the active participation of beneficiaries in the development and strengthening of their own institutions.


Many innovations pioneered by IFAD have been replicated by other development agencies. These innovations have been a key pathway for scaling up. They include programme support to soil conservation, watershed management, subsurface dams, sand dams and borehole drilling.


IFAD's strategy also recognizes the critical role of the diaspora in sustaining livelihoods. Somalia receives an estimated US$1 billion per year in remittances, exceeding official aid.


IFAD grant-funded operations in the northern regions of Somalia include the following:


North-western Integrated Community Development Programme


Financed with US$8.2 million from IFAD, the Belgian Fund for Food Security and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID), this programme has created opportunities for rural  people to learn to read and write, take loans and start businesses.


It operates in the regions of Maaroodi Jeex and Awdal in north-western Somaliland. Thanks to additional funds from OFID, support has also been extended to the Togdheer and Sanaag regions of Somaliland and Ali Sabieh prefecture in Djibouti.


In its second phase (2010-2015), the North-western Integrated Community Development Programme (NWICDP) has brought both social and economic change for 318,000 people residing in 53,000 households located in 158  communities. The programme has especially  benefited women among its target group, which is composed mainly of pastoralists, agro-pastoralists and irrigation farmers.


NWCIDP is geared towards crop and livestock development and participatory planning. It has concretely improved the target group's access to food, health services, water and sanitation, and household income. And as the largest ongoing rural development programme in Somaliland, it has effectively engaged local authorities in its activities  – which have proven to be a major innovation in international assistance in the region.


Women's Savings and Credit Groups (SCGs), a core element of NWICDP, have enabled some 800 members of 53 SCGs, all led by women, to be trained in various income-generating activities. Literacy classes and access to credit provided by the groups have demonstrated that women can change their destinies and revitalize local economies through solidarity and mutual support. As a result, SCGs have come to be recognized as community institutions in Somaliland.


Enhancing Food Security in the Horn of Africa through Diaspora Investment in Agriculture Programme


The first intervention under the Diaspora Investment in Agriculture (DIA) Programme is in its early stages. It will help aspiring entrepreneurs in Somali agro-industry to start, grow and  finance up to 20 businesses, and it will encourage cross-border diaspora investment.


DIA will also provide matching grants to diaspora members investing in commercial projects that contribute to job creation, food security and increased incomes in rural  Somalia and  Djibouti. Supported by IFAD in the context of its Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR), the US$1.7 million DIA grant (2013-2017) is expected to increase employment and incomes in food-insecure rural areas.


By selecting around 25 diaspora organizations (the direct beneficiaries of DIA) through a competitive process, it will support the ultimate beneficiaries – including smallholder farmers,  landless people, labourers, herders, artisanal fishers and small-scale entrepreneurs – who face challenges in coping with different food security threats in both countries.


DIA's specific objectives are to:

  • Identify and promote agribusiness investment opportunities in rural areas, together with the necessary financial instruments, for dissemination, replication and scaling  up;
  • Build capacities for people in the diaspora to identify, participate in, and promote investment opportunities in their home countries, and drive their transformation as agents of development;
  • Encourage multi-pronged strategies that bring together members of the global diaspora, private enterprises and civil society in their  home communities, local and  national governments, and the international community.


Source: IFAD