Somalia is currently facing several worsening humanitarian crises at the same time. The country is anticipating its fourth consecutive failed rainfall season, and experts are worried about the implications for agriculture this coming spring. As of the middle of November 2021, one hundred thousand people have abandoned their homes, particularly those from the south and central areas of the country. These migrants are searching for food, water, and pasture for their livestock and belong to the group of over one million people whom crises in Somalia have displaced in the last year alone. A recent situation report update from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) found that 2.9 million people in Somalia are currently displaced, and 3.5 million are facing food insecurity.
Meanwhile, political tension has led to increased violent action from the militant group Al-Shabaab. The Islamist insurgent group controlled the capital from 2009 to 2011 when it was pushed out by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The group has been carrying out attacks and suicide bombings throughout this fall to target influential people such as politicians, journalists, and police. The most recent explosion occurred outside Mocaasir, a primary and secondary school in the northwestern Hodan district, Mogadishu. The blast injured thirteen students and destroyed the school building and several school busses. Thirteen-year-old student Abdisalan Omar Ibrahim told Aljazeera, “A brick hit me in the head, and blood was gushing onto my uniform.” The attack also killed eight civilians in the area at the time. The bombing raises concerns for civilian safety in the face of increasing political tension and, in particular, highlights the need for anticipatory action in the education sector to protect children from harm. As Abdulkadir Adan, the founder of Aamin Ambulance service, which responded to the scene, told the New York Times, “If schools and places of learning are not exempt from targets, then this is a real tragedy.”
With more and more Somalians migrating for their health and safety each day, international and local humanitarian actors must develop detailed plans to monitor this crisis. Current anticipatory action plans for the worsening drought aim to take different actions to address distinct needs, such as nutrition and education. The plan to address educational needs seeks to reduce the risk of school dropouts by “implementing school feeding programs” and “disbursing cash incentives to teachers.” The existence of concrete measures for the education sector is promising. The use of cash-based assistance programs has been found to provide tangible benefits to internally displaced persons in Somalia. However, these actions do not consider how the country’s current political context makes it unsafe for students in regions with escalating violence to attend their schools. They also do not account for the needs of students who will be leaving their territory in search of better agricultural conditions or those who have not been able to attend school due to Covid-19 related closures. Such oversights in anticipatory action indicate a critical need to develop more context-based, specific plans for Somalian schools.