Two men walk the middle of a dry river bed in Somalia.

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CRS in Somalia

A drought in Eastern Africa has left millions in South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda facing chronic hunger. Hundreds of thousands of children are acutely malnourished and need urgent nutritional support.

Catholic Relief Services is responding with emergency food aid, water and vocational training for the most vulnerable people, including those who have been displaced from their homes.

Somalia has suffered from decades of political instability and clan fighting, resulting in a lack of social cohesion necessary for national development.

Seasonal drought—including a historically severe drought and subsequent famine in 2011—have been exacerbated by recent increases in conflict and military offensives, compounding and complicating the humanitarian crisis in Somalia.

More than a million Somalis—9% of the population—are internally displaced. Internally displaced people live in dire circumstances with limited or no access to water, sanitation and health facilities. They lack basic household necessities and are at increased risk of human rights violations, particularly sexual and gender based violence. These difficult circumstances disproportionately impact small children in Somalia, where an estimated 304,700 children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition according to Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit.

Almost 900,000 Internally displaced people have settled in South-Central Somalia, where CRS works with local government and communities to meet basic nutritional and sanitation needs, build resilience and lay the foundation for peace among communities in conflict.


People Served: 545,675

Population: 11,031,386

Size: 246,201 sq mi; slightly smaller than Texas

CRS' History in Somalia

CRS has provided critical development and humanitarian support in Somalia for many years. CRS first established an office in Mogadishu in October 1964 to administer school feeding programs. For 30 years CRS maintained its office in Somalia, working with partners to develop and sustain projects related to health and nutrition, agriculture, education, and water and sanitation. In 1994, after the outbreak of a civil war, CRS closed its office in Mogadishu.  

CRS returned to Somalia in 2011 in response to the drought and famine that impacted East Africa that year. Today, CRS continues to respond to the urgent needs of the Somali people through meeting their immediate needs (food and water); providing essential services (health, nutrition and protection); creating and rehabilitating critical infrastructure (latrines and wells); and restoring productive assets and purchasing power (via vouchers) to build their resilience and promote long-term, sustainable solutions.