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(Opens New Window)

goals and budget allocation of the country strategy as an infographic

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 have been covered by the programme’s vaccination campaigns. Finland supported the programme in 2012–2017.

  • Finland supports capacity-building programmes in the health and education sectors, initiated by the Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA), which are conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The programme help Somali health and education authorities in producing good quality public services. Experts representing the Somali diaspora in Finland are engaged in various capacity-building activities. Major improvements have been achieved in the health sector and nearly 1,000 healthcare employees have received training. Several hospitals have established new wards and units in Somalia. In the Hargeisa hospital, women have safer childbirths, mothers survive delivery more often than before, and the mortality rate of premature babies has dropped from 24% to 5%. In the education sector, specialists have defended reforms and the preparation of strategic plans of action.

  • Finland supports the United Nations Population Fund's (UNFPA) country programme, which focuses on sexual and reproductive health and rights and the reduction of maternal mortality in Somalia. In colleges of nursing and midwifery, supported by UNFPA, 1,200 new midwifes have been trained. The use of sexual and reproductive health services has increased and a growing number of mothers give birth to their babies in public healthcare institutions. In addition, a national education plan for midwifes has been drafted.

  • A programme launched by the International Solidarity Foundation (ISF) has improved food security in Somaliland. In 2015, camel and sheep milk production doubled and a four-fold increase was seen in goat milk production. Water catchment systems have helped farmers and herders make a better living, 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. As a result of changes in attitudes towards the practice among teachers, community leaders, religious leaders, authorities and mothers, progress has been made in the fight to end female genital circumcision.

  • In 2016, Finnish organisations working under the Somali network in Finland launched joint environmental protection projects against decertification and planted nearly 30,000 young trees. Environmental education, voluntary work and media campaigns, which 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.

Ongoing programmes

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

  • Supporting the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) Country Programme by EUR 10 million in 2017–2020. Improvement of sexual and reproductive health is emphasised in the whole country.

  • As part of the IOM’s projects, healthcare professionals representing the Somali diaspora in Finland participate in the development of the healthcare system in different parts of Somalia. The focus in this work is on the development of maternal and children’s healthcare services. The programme includes development of the local education sector. Finland’s support amounts to EUR 12.2 million in 2017–2021

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 bolstering the productive sectors in the country. Finland’s support in 2016–2019 is EUR 4 million. In 2019–2022, Finland will contribute EUR 8.1 million to support the facility's activities.
  • Finland supports Somalia's national reconciliation process by participating actively in conflict resolution and in the national peace and reconciliation process. The Somali Ministry of the Interior together with Finn Church Aid and the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers have created a national reconciliation framework to serve as a basis of the implementation of the reconciliation process in Somalia.

Bilateral support is complemented by the following

  • Finland provides not only bilateral assistance but also supports Somali CSOs’ work, humanitarian mine action and better arms control. Moreover, Finland provides humanitarian aid to Somalia
  • and supports efforts to improve the security situation. Funding is channelled to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) through the European Development Fund (EDF) and crisis management experts are posted to crisis management operations of the UN and the EU (EUTM Somalia and EUCAP Somalia).


Muualla verkossa

  •  Eldis: Somalia