Somalia map


  • 19%
    Female net attendance in primary school*
  • 24%
    Male net attendance in primary school*
  • 82%
    People living on less than $1.90 per day**

Country context

Since 1991 Somalia, with a population of around 10 million people, has been riven by internal conflict and without an effective central government. During the major periods of conflict more than a million people lost their homes and many fled to neighbouring countries and to Europe. In 2000 the relatively peaceful areas of Somaliland and Puntland in the north of the country effectively broke away from the rest of Somalia, which remained ravaged by internal strife. Since 2012, when a new internationally recognised government was formed in Mogadishu, the situation has stabilised, but the peace is fragile and Somalia faces many challenges as it seeks to rebuild.

Somalia’s economy is weak with 60% of the population relying on pastoral livestock farming and GPD per capita at just $284 against a sub-Saharan average of $1,300 (last available statistics from 2012). The economy relies heavily on aid and remittances from the diaspora.

As well as the huge loss of life and homes in the country, the conflict also badly affected health and education provision. On average there is just one health post per 15,000 people and provision is especially weak in rural areas. Life expectancy at birth is just 50 for men and 53 for women. Human development outcomes are among the lowest in the world.

School attendance rates are very low and disproportionately so for girls. Many schools were destroyed in the conflict and educational resources are in extremely short supply. Added to this many educational professionals fled during the conflict so there is a shortage of teachers.

Why we work in Somalia

While the literacy rate is very low, Somalia has a strong literary and poetic tradition and schooling is highly valued. Since the conflict there has been a great need for support for educational institutions and books, which are unaffordable for most and have been extremely hard to obtain. As Somalia seeks to rebuild its education system we have a vital role to play in providing new, carefully selected books that can help people rebuild their lives and communities.

Along with local languages and Arabic, English is an official language for secondary education upwards, so the books donated by UK publishers are extremely valuable.

Our work in Somalia

Book Aid International began supporting libraries in Somalia in 1969.

We work with our partners the Africa Educational Trust to send books to the autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland as well as to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. In addition, we also send books to the Somaliland National Library service and to Benadir Universtity in Mogadishu.

The books we send to Somalia go to secondary schools, universities and colleges and hospitals and health institutions. These institutions are vital as Somalia aims to rebuild after the conflict and the books we send play a key role in helping people to develop as individuals and in their wider communities.

*Unicef: State of the World’s Children 2016

**UN Human Development Report 2014

2017 in numbers


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