Somalia Human Development Report 2012

29 Aug 2013

UNDP Resident Representative Foreword

Since its first Somalia Human Development Report in 1998, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has published two subsequent editions. The 1998 report examined Somalia’s long-running political and humanitarian crises, and the impacts on education and governance, bringing forward the plight of two generations deprived of schooling since the education system collapsed in the mid-1980s. The 2001 report assessed socioeconomic trends since 1998 and examined three forces affecting human development—globalization, the private sector and human rights. Since then, the crisis in Somalia has deepened and become more complex. A third generation of youth has missed the opportunity for an education. It has no memory of a functioning state.

This 2012 Somalia Human Development Report is dedicated to Somalia’s young women and men. Placing youth at the centre of analysis, it explores how development, humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding can become more responsive by mobilizing and empowering youth as positive agents of change. It argues that a failure to invest in youth as an asset for the broader economy and society will continue to incur formidable costs, including the perpetration of intergenerational poverty and conflict. The report examines key drivers of youth exclusion, working from a conflict-sensitive perspective, and investigates holistic options to engage youth in peacebuilding and development. It advocates that policy makers and other stakeholders move away from a traditional, state-centric conception of security to one that concentrates equally on the security of individuals, especially youth. The plight of youth in Somalia should inspire a broad national debate on their future.

This report calls on adminstrations, civil society and the international community to integrate youth in all human development and peacebuilding strategies as an urgent priority. It underscores the imperative of placing empowerment at the centre of any youth development agenda. A reform action agenda takes into account the voices of youth from a comprehensive survey of more than 3,300 men and women aged 14 to 29. We extend our deep appreciation to all contributors to this report. Youth advisory groups, comprising representatives of most of the active youth organizations and groups in Somaliland, Puntland and south central Somalia, and focus groups that included representatives from a wide sector of the Somali society provided crucial input.

Government representatives from Somaliland, Puntland and south central Somalia contributed to the selection of the theme and extended their support during the preparation of this document. A number of development agencies assisted with key information to strengthen the analysis presented. To ensure local ownership, develop national capacity, and address the diverse contexts and challenges of Somaliland, Puntland and south central Somalia, teams from three research institutions were used to conduct surveys, interviews and focus group discussions, and prepare background papers.


They included the Center for Research and Dialogue in south central Somalia, Admas University in Somaliland and a consortium headed by Puntland State University, and comprising Kaalo Relief and Development and Somali Family Services in Puntland. We are hopeful that the Somali Youth Charter, which emanated from discussions related to this report and was developed by young Somalis, will serve as a clarion call to empower the youth as catalytic agents of change. The Charter should be seen as a starting point for the exchange of views, reaching consensus among policy makers and others on how to recognize and act on lessons. This HDR comes at an opportune time, when the world is seeking urgent and innovative solutions to the crises in Somalia.

The future of Somalia is in the hands of youth. They are tomorrow’s social, political and technological leaders. It is the task and responsibility of policy makers to listen to them now, to trust what they hear and to explore with young people how best to respond.

Mark Bowden
UNDP Resident Representative
UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia


  • The Somalia Human Development Report 2012 presents a nine-point agenda for dynamic transformation towards making the power and potential of youth central to development and peacebuilding
  • Empowerment Highligted as the cornerstone of Human Development
  • Somalia continues to face one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, with half the population in urgent need of aid.
  • Somalia ranks second to Afghanistan as the worst country worldwide for women Violence
  • Somalia ranked as one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries, bearing relatively few natural resources

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