Ranked as 172 out of 182 countries on the ND-GAIN Index (2022) [1], Somalia is considered one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change [2], [3]. In fact, Somalia ranked as the second most vulnerable country on the Index to climate change and other global challenges and placed as the 120th most ready country to improve its resilience [1]. In addition to climate-vulnerability, Somalia is a fragile state that experiences diverse challenges in terms of governance, security, and poverty, that exacerbate existing vulnerabilities [4].

Somalia has experienced significant variations in its climate during the last century, evidenced by a continuous increase in its mean annual temperature since 1991 [3]. Already, Somalia records some of the highest mean annual temperatures worldwide [5]. Additionally, in the last three decades, much of the country has also experienced increases in maximum temperatures [3]. The amount of rainfall received across Somalia varies dramatically from year to year with recurrent drought periods that persist for several years, and erratic periods of intense downpours and flooding. Based on various analysis of weather station rainfall data, across all regions and seasons in Somalia, there is a very high inter-annual and inter-seasonal variation [6].

Somalia’s climate is expected to continue to change. Projections anticipate an increase in mean annual temperate of between 3.2°C to 4.3°C by the end of the century [7], [8]. The annual number of very hot days (days with daily maximum temperature above 35°C) is projected to rise with high certainty all over Somalia. This will likely result in a higher exposure to heatwaves in Somalia, with a likely increase in heat-related mortality [5]. Somalia’s mean annual rainfall is also expected to increase within the next couple of decades, with a projected increase of 1% by 2030 [3] and by about 3% by 2050 [8]. At the same time, seasonal rainfall variability over the country will increase; this growing unpredictability will affect major sectors such as agriculture, livestock, fisheries, health, and infrastructure, among others [3].

Since 2011, Somalia has suffered from more frequent and prolonged climate-related disasters such as droughts, floods with the addition of cyclones and even locust infestations in the last two years. These disasters continue to destroy Somalia’s ecosystems, threaten food security, and increase conflict over resource scarcity. This has put a massive strain on the humanitarian situation in Somalia, impoverishing and displacing hundreds of thousands of people of the nomadic and rural populations [2].

The latest drought that Somalia is facing, following five consecutive failed rainy seasons [9], is the worst drought Somalia has seen in 40 years [10]. This unprecedented extreme and widespread drought has led to mass displacement, widespread death of livestock and a devastating food crisis [9], with 90% of the country experiencing severe drought conditions [11]. As of the beginning of 2023, water shortages are at critical levels, with an estimated 8 million people lacking access to safe water and sanitation facilities; drought-induced displacement has increased fivefold since the beginning of 2022, with more than 1.3 million people displaced by the end of 2022 [12]; and estimates suggest that in 2022 alone, this drought crisis caused 43,000 excess deaths, with half of these deaths occurring in children younger than 5 years [13]. Further, the drought is projected to intensify as Somalia faces the risk of a sixth consecutive failed rainy season from March to June 2023 [9]. As a result, over 8.3 million Somalis (49% of the population) are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity between April and June 2023 [12].

Climate change severely threatens Somalia’s economy, which is heavily dependent on natural resources and climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture, livestock, water, and forestry [2]. According to the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), much of the brunt has been felt in the agriculture and livestock sector [14], which together account for more than 60% of GDP and directly and indirectly employ millions [2]. In recent times, unpredictable rainfall patterns, increasing temperatures and natural disasters (mainly droughts and flash floods) have caused decreased production and productivity in these sectors [3], negatively impacting livelihoods, the economy and food security [8]. For instance, it is estimated that the 2016–2017 drought resulted in losses and damages of approximately US$ 3.25 billion, with the agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors feeling these losses most acutely (59%) [15]. Unfortunately, this compounds an already difficult context [3]: Somalia is one of the poorest nations in Africa, with an estimated 68% of the population living below the poverty line, according to data from 2017 [2], [14].


Despite being an insignificant contributor to the problem of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which cause climate change, Somalia remains one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change [14].

Nevertheless, according to the GHG Inventory in Somalia’s first Biennial Update Report, in general, total emissions in Somalia show an increasing trend. In 2020, Somalia’s total GHG emissions were equivalent to 41,131 Gg of CO2eq. GHG emissions in the country are dominated by agriculture (mainly livestock) emissions, which totalled about 20,508 GgCO2eq in 2020 (50% of total GHG emissions). This was followed by emissions from land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) which totalled 17,350 GgCO2eq (42%), and then emissions from the Energy (2,103 GgCO2eq; 5%) and waste sectors (1,170 GgCO2eq; 3%) [4].


Key policies and governance approach

Somalia joined the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2009 and ratified the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement in 2010 and 2016, respectively [4]. As a signatory to the UNFCCC, the Federal Republic of Somalia has submitted its Initial National Communication (2018) [6], its First Biennial Update Report (BUR: 2022) [4], and its updated National Determined Contribution (NDC) in 2021 [14].

Through its updated NDC, Somalia has set a target of achieving a 30% emissions reduction against the Business As Usual (BAU) scenario estimate of 107.39 MtCO2eq by 2030. Mitigation actions cover the energy, agriculture, forestry, transport, and waste sectors. Concerning adaptation, Somalia aims to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience, and reduce vulnerability to climate change through mainstreaming climate adaptation into sustainable development [14]. The updated NDC will require financing of USD 55.5 billion for the period 2021- 2030 and articulates the need for a robust Monitoring, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) system to track progress in achieving the country’s ambitions [4].  

Additionally, the government of Somalia has integrated climate change into its National Development Plan (NDP-9) and has developed several other climate change-related programs and policies, such as the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA: 2013) and the National Climate Change Policy (2020) [3]. The National Climate Change Policy has the vision to (i) promote a harmonized, articulate and effective response to challenges and opportunities that accompany climate change; (ii) deliver a framework that will guide the establishment and operationalization of interventions and action plans; and (iii) safeguard the safety and health of citizens, their prosperity and states development in the advent of climate change through enhancement of resilience and implementation of adaptive ability to climate variability [2].

The National Climate Change Policy (2020) also provides the institutional arrangement required for climate action in the country. The Directorate of Environment and Climate Change (DoECC), situated in the Office of the Prime Minister, has the mandate to formulate federal climate policies and coordinate climate change activities by federal institutions, federal member states, local governments, international partners, and other stakeholders. The office also serves as UNFCCC National Focal Point and the National Designated Authority (NDA) for the Green Climate Fund [3]. Other relevant institutions include the National Climate Change Committee (NCCC) with the mandate for coordinating and supervising the implementation of the National Climate Change Policy, and the Cross-Sectoral Committee on Climate Change (CSCC) which brings together officials from across the government working on climate change [14].

Further, the country has also recently initiated its National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process through the implementation of the Green Climate Fund (GCF)-financed NAP Readiness Project [3], through which Somalia hopes to enhance its capacity, establish legal and institutional frameworks, and further define its medium term and long-term adaptation actions in priority sectors. This NAP will be the main guiding instrument to implement the country’s adaptation priorities [14].

Successes and remaining challenges

Despite the various measures that have been taken, the country continues to face numerous gaps in policy, institutional and financial capacities to effectively respond to climate change [3]. For instance, the estimated cost of implementing Somalia’s NDC is approximately USD 55.5 billion for the period 2021- 2030. As a Least Developed Country with unique national circumstances, the Government of Somalia lacks the fiscal capacity to mobilize financial resources for the implementation of the NDC actions. The successful implementation of both adaptation and mitigation actions thus, requires the provision of adequate and predictable financial resources. Financial support through multilateral and bilateral channels and sources will be critical to facilitate transparent and successful implementation of the NDC [4], [14]. Additionally, the country’s private sector will have an important role to play in financing the country’s response to climate change. However, the private sector is largely unregulated and remains faced with key challenges, such as a lack of information and awareness of climate change and the role they play in addressing it, a weak investment climate, continued insecurity, and the lack of competitive commercial financing. These challenges will have to be addressed in order to mobilize further significant private-sector support [3].

Further, the country’s climate change response is hindered by weak institutional arrangements. The various relevant institutions in Somalia have extremely limited operational capacity and are not yet fitted with the institutional frameworks and operational structures required for effective climate change functions and coordination. For example, the DoECC’s role is hampered by a lack of technical, human, and financial capacities to effectively undertake its mandate [3].

As such, there is need to enhance the capacity of the relevant institutions in the country, while strengthening the climate-related policy and legislative frameworks. In particular, the country requires support to enhance capacities to access multilateral and bilateral climate finance sources, address barriers and enhance private sector investments, and establish effective institutional mechanisms to enhance mobilization and effective utilization of climate finance. The country will also require support to establish a national MRV system and strengthen its institutional set-up with adequate infrastructure and human resources to track climate actions [4], [14].

  • There is need to enhance the capacity of the relevant institutions in the country, while strengthening the policy and legislative frameworks to support Somalia to enhance its adaptive capacities to climate change [4], [14].
  • It is important that key partners support the government in addressing its capacity bottlenecks, both at the federal level and member state levels [3].
  • Institutional capacity development should promote effective and efficient climate change governance arrangements with high-level oversight and policy guidance, climate change mainstreaming across government, enforcement and compliance capability, state-level government involvement, and the provision of highly specialized technical experts [3].
  • The country also requires support to enhance its capacities to access multilateral and bilateral climate finance sources, address barriers and enhance private sector investments, and establish effective institutional mechanisms to enhance mobilization and effective utilization of climate finance [4].
  • Increase the awareness of the private sector on existing adaptation investment opportunities and technologies, establish appropriate institutional arrangements for enhanced private-sector engagement, and enhance the investment climate for the private sector through the development of supportive policy and legislative frameworks [3].
  • Establish a National Climate Change Fund; the creation of a dedicated fund would be essential for Somalia to mobilize the necessary resources to implement its NDC and NAP [3].
  • The country requires support to establish a national MRV system and strengthen its institutional set-up with adequate infrastructure and human resources to track climate actions [4].
  • Establish a specific department or Institute that is responsible for Emissions Control in the country [4].
  • Increase public awareness regarding climate change and potential climate change impacts [4].
  • Promote climate research and development [4].

[1] Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative, University of Notre Dame (2022). ND-GAIN Country Index. [Online]. Available:

[2] The Federal Government of Somalia, Somalia National Bureau of Statistics (2022). Voluntary National Review Report 2022.

[3] Federal Government of Somalia (2022). Somalia’s National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Framework.

[4] Government of Somalia. (2022). Somalia’s First Biennial Update Report to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MoECC), Mogadishu, Somalia.

[5] Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, adelphi (2022). Climate Risk Profile Somalia: Summary for policymakers.


[7] Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (2021). Country-level Climate fact sheet: Somalia.

[8] Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI), SIPRI (2021). Climate, Peace and Security Fact Sheet Somalia.

[9] IOM (2022). SOMALIA DROUGHT RESPONSE November 2022.

[10] OCHA (2022). Somalia: The Cost of Inaction.

[11] The World Bank Group (2022). Somalia’s Economy Expected to Grow Despite Significant Shocks. [Online]. Available:


[13] Ministry of Health & Human Services - Federal Republic of Somalia, UNICEF, World Health Organization (WHO) Somalia (2023). From insight to action: examining mortality in Somalia

[14] The Federal Republic of Somalia (2021). UPDATED NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTION (NDC).

[15] United Nations Somalia (2020). COMMON COUNTRY ANALYSIS 2020.