Finland’s development cooperation in Somalia

Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world, gradually recovering from over two decades of fragility and instability. The state structures are very weak and the re-established post-conflict administration demands long-term development. The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has a poor capacity to provide health care and other basic services for the citizens. Maternal and child mortality rates remain among the highest in the world.

On the other hand, Somalia has good prospects for development. Its geographic location at the crossroads of important trade routes offers good opportunities for the development of trade. The country has an active private sector and plenty of untapped natural resources, including oil and gas. Fishing and cattle breeding are other areas that open up avenues for economic development.

Finland’s support to Somalia is comprehensive; Finland participates in the reconstruction of Somalia through political dialogue, development cooperation, crisis management, and humanitarian aid. Finland's planned budget frame for Somalia in 2017–2020 is EUR 25.7 million.

Country Strategy for Development Cooperation, Somalia 2017-2020

Somalian infograafi englanti

Finland’s bilateral development cooperation with Somalia started in the 1980s. The collapse of the Somali Government in the early 1990s suspended intergovernmental cooperation for years. Finland continued to provide humanitarian aid and Finnish CSOs carried on their small-scale project activities in the country. After the protracted conflict, Somalia’s reconstruction and development needs are considerable. Finland stresses Somalia's ownership of its own development. Somalia is one of the countries where the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States principles, prepared in Busan in 2011, has been piloted. The New Deal process ended at the end of 2016, and Somalia’s first National Development Plan for 2017–2019 gives guidance for the next three years.

The new development plan provides a foundation also for Finland’s development cooperation activities in Somalia. Finland supports efforts to build a more stable and secure Somalia and, in particular, to strengthen the core functions of the FGS and social resilience. Another priority is promotion of women's and girls’ wellbeing and rights. Finland focuses on improving the quality and availability of health care. In the health care sector, Finland emphasises services related to maternal and children’s health and reproductive and sexual health services. In all of its development cooperation, Finland pays particular attention to the implementation of the rights of women and children.

Civil society organisations

Finnish CSOs are actively carrying out various development cooperation projects in Somalia. Their central goal is to strengthen the local civil society. Examples of the cooperation involve projects that promote the rights of women and children and also projects in health care and the education sector and in rural development. Finland supports CSO projects in Somalia by approximately EUR 3 million at an annual level. In addition, the organisations contribute their own funding to various projects. The Somali diaspora in Finland plays a key role in the development cooperation carried out by CSOs because several projects in Somalia are implemented in cooperation between the Somali diaspora organisations in Finland and their local counterparts.


  • The UN's general health programme, administered by UNICEF, has improved the quality and availability of maternal and children's health services in Somalia. Hundreds of thousands of childbirths have been assisted in clinics supported by the programme and maternal and child mortality rates have dropped markedly. A large number of Somali children covered by the programme’s vaccination campaigns are now immunised against diseases. Finland supported the programme in 2012–2016.

  • Capacity-building programmes in the health sector, initiated by the Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA), are conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and supported by Finland. These projects have improved the operation of the health sector in Somalia. Health care professionals among the Somali diaspora in Finland, including medical doctors and nurses, participate in the development of the health care system by training local health care workers, developing their curricula, and drafting relevant legislation. Nearly 1,000 health care workers have already been trained. Several hospitals have established new wards and units in Somalia. The hospital in Hargeisa has set up separate dialysis and intensive care wards as well as a dental health unit, which are the first public sector services in these particular health care sectors in Somalia. Childbirths are safer and mothers survive more often than before. Better care has helped to diminish the mortality rate of premature babies in the Hargeisan central hospital from 24 per cent to 5 per cent.

  • A programme launched by the International Solidarity Foundation (ISF) has improved food security in Somaliland. In 2015, camel and sheep milk production doubled and goat milk production increased four-fold. The livelihoods of farmers and herders were improved by developing water catchment systems, and smallholder farming has created new jobs for young people. Women and men have been encouraged to discuss violence, equality and family life. Women have been trained to master new skills and find sources of income.  Progress has been made in efforts to ban female genital mutilation after attitudes towards the practice has changed among teachers, community leaders, religious leaders, authorities and mothers.

  • Finnish organisations working under the Somali network in Finland launched joint environmental protection projects against decertification and planted nearly 30,000 young trees in 2016. Environmental education, voluntary work and media campaigns that reached hundreds of thousands of people enhanced awareness and commitment to environmental protection. Hundreds of families started to use energy and fuel-wood-saving cookers, and soil health improved in the project areas.

Risk management

In Somalia, special attention is paid to risk management related to the cooperation. The opportunities for development cooperation in Somalia have improved, but the country is still very fragile and the security situation can change rapidly.


Support provided by Finland:

Strengthening the wellbeing and rights of girls and women, reproductive health services:

  • Support to the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Country Programme. EUR 10 million in 2017–2020

  • As part of IOM’s projects, health care professionals among the Somali diaspora in Finland participate in the development of the health care system in different parts of Somalia by, for example, training local health care workers.  The focus in this work is on the development of maternal and children’s health care services. Support provided by Finland: EUR 6.5 million in 2017–2020

Strengthening the State’s core functions:

  • The Somalia Development and Reconstruction Facility, administered by the World Bank, helps the FGS to strengthen its core functions by improving the management of public finances and taxation and by reviving the productive sectors in the country. Support provided by Finland: EUR 4 million in 2016–2019

Finland provides not only bilateral assistance but also supports Somali CSOs’ work, humanitarian mine action and better arms control. Finns serve in EU and UN crisis management operations. Finland also provides humanitarian aid to Somalia.




Muualla verkossa

  •  Eldis: Somalia