Environmental sustainability crucial to reducing inequality in Somalia

02 Nov 2011

 Nairobi - Achieving sustainable development globally,  including in Somalia, will require bolder action on internal inequalities and environmental risks, says the 2011 Human Development Report (HDR), released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The report—Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All—calls for broader efforts to foster equitable human development by reducing gender imbalances and expanding opportunities for those among the countries’ marginalized communities. It also confronts climate challenges with calls for a shift to renewable energy. The report identifies Somalia as among the countries with the gravest inequalities as measured in the report’s Human Development Index (HDI). It shows that 65.6 percent of the Somali population is in severe poverty, but when additional factors such as access to education, health care, and standard of living are considered, a startling 81.2 percent of the population is considered to be in poverty.

In Somalia, the poor – and especially women – are the most affected by environmental hazards. They rely on natural resources, such as wood for fuel for their livelihoods and are more likely to be affected by extreme weather events. In addition, changes in environmental conditions often restrict access to vital sources of energy.

“While environmental risks such as climate change, deforestation, air and water pollution, and natural disasters affect all members of society, they do disproportionately affect the most vulnerable. They suffer a double burden of deprivation from being more vulnerable to the wider effects of environmental degradation and having less resilience.  They must also cope with threats to their immediate environment from insufficient and/or unclean water, indoor air pollution from unhealthy cooking and heating methods, and poor sanitation,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at the report’s official launch in Copenhagen this morning.

The protracted political crisis in Somalia has meant that environmental protection has not been prioritized in the country’s development plans. However, competition over natural resources is now emerging as one of the most serious threats to conflict escalation and to the human development of future generations.  

“Developing effective warning systems and coping strategies to deal with environmental disasters in Somalia, so that a situation like the current famine does not occur in the country again, should be foremost in our efforts to support Somalia” said UNDP Resident Representative Mark Bowden.”

UNDP Somalia will publish its own National Human Development Report, Empowering Youth for Peace and Development, in December. Building on the issues of sustainability and equity raised in the global HDR, it will focus on empowerment as a centerpiece of human development, and examine the underlying roots of conflict and poverty in Somalia. 

Contact Information

Aimee Brown: aimee.brown@undp.org or 0731 859 413
Clement Tulezi: clement.tulezi@undp.org