The Toll of Drought on Displaced and Vulnerable Persons in Somalia

Harriet Kasidi Mugera and Kazusa Yoshimura

World Bank-UNHCR Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement and the World Bank Group, June 2023 


This brief examines the impact of drought on displaced populations and their host communities in Somalia. Between October 2021 and February 2023, a prolonged, acute drought in Somalia displaced an estimated 1.4 million people. 

The analysis is based on a high-frequency phone-based survey (HFPS) undertaken by the World Bank in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in Somalia and the World Bank-UNHCR Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement (JDC). The first round of the survey was conducted between November 2021 and March 2022 and the second round between July 2022 and August 2022. The survey covered about 500 households from host communities, IDPs living in camps, IDPs living outside camps, refugees, and refugee returnees. 

Main findings: 

  • Nine out of ten displaced and host community households had been affected by drought. More than 95 percent of IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) households, 57 percent of refugee households, and 93 percent of host community households had been affected by drought. 
  • The most widespread impact of the drought was the loss of livestock. Host communities were most affected, with 70 percent of households having lost livestock. IDPs and refugee returnees were also greatly affected, with 54-66 percent of IDP households, and 55 percent of refugee returnees having lost livestock. 40 percent of those who had lost livestock reported severe or complete destruction of their herds. 
  • Most survey respondents had delayed, reduced and/or abandoned farming activities in response to the drought. 64 percent of host community households, and nearly 50 percent of IDPs and refugee returnees had completely abandoned crop farming due to the drought. 
  • Only a third of affected households had received any drought-related assistance. Food aid was the most usual form of assistance.  
  • Food insecurity was acute among displaced and host households due to the combined effects of drought and higher food prices. Approximately 50 percent of surveyed households had experienced moderate or severe hunger. Food insecurity was particularly severe among refugee households (more than two-thirds had suffered moderate or severe hunger) and among IDPs in camps (approximately 60 percent of had experienced moderate hunger).