World Bank approves $100m to improve healthcare services for Somalia women and children
The World Bank is supporting the Improving Healthcare Services in Somalia Project, known as “Damal Caafimaad,” with $75 million International Development Assistance (IDA) grant and an additional $25 million grant from the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children and Adolescents (GFF) in Somalia. This project is the first World Bank investment in Somalia’s health sector in 30 years.
The project will deliver essential health and nutrition services and improve health service coverage and quality in some of Somalia’s most disadvantaged areas, including Nugaal (Puntland), Bakool and Bay (South West), Hiraan, and Middle Shebelle (Hirshabelle). Around 10 percent of Somalia’s population, as well as internally displaced persons (IDPs) and nomads in the target regions, will benefit from the project activities. To build effective institutions for stability and economic growth, the project will also strengthen stewardship capacity of Somalia’s Federal and State Ministries of Health.
“We are using the best of our resources by combining IDA and trust fund investments to help Somalia strengthen its essential healthcare services and working with government leadership in the health sector to meet its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 3 and 5) commitments,” said World Bank Country Manager for Somalia, Kristina Svensson. “The project will help catalyze Somalia’s resilient growth by improving health and productivity during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Somalia’s lagging health outcomes reflect the country’s insecurity, vulnerability, and poverty, limiting opportunities for people to access basic social services, including health and education. The average life expectancy is 56 years and the fertility rate, at 6.9 children per woman, is among the highest in the world. Moreover, poor health outcomes are underlined by weak health service delivery: for example, only 11 percent of children in Somalia are fully immunized. The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed Somalia’s weak health system, underlining the need for increased investment to the nascent health sector and its institutions.
“The Somali people have long suffered from recurrent humanitarian and health emergencies. There are substantial challenges in the health sector, and the country needs to lay the foundation for a resilient health system to improve health outcomes and respond to external health challenges.” said World Bank Task Team Leader, Naoko Ohno. “The Damal Caafimaad Project will help the Government build its leadership and stewardship capacity in the sector, while responding to immediate service gaps by rapidly increasing essential service coverage through working with partners”.
The Project incorporates lessons learned from other health projects supported by the World Bank in Fragile and Conflict-affected Situations (FCS), as well as from ongoing World Bank-financed projects in Somalia. To build the capacity of the government to oversee and regulate health services, the project will support government contracting of health service delivery to NGOs, an approach that has successfully been used to expand access to high quality health services in FCS and low capacity contexts, including Afghanistan and Cambodia.
Likewise, with support from the GFF, the government is prioritizing the delivery of a set high-impact interventions within its updated 2020 Essential Package of Health Services (EPHS) and is working towards aligning partner support to ensure consistent and equitable delivery of essential services throughout the county.
“Setting priorities based on what will be the highest impact investments and aligning partner support behind a country-led process is critical for accelerating progress for women, children and adolescent health,” said World Bank Task Team Leader, Bernard Olayo. “The support from the GFF has been instrumental to maximize impact towards a shared approach and build a health system that works for all.”
With World Bank support, Somalia is increasing its investments in human capital development for greater equity and economic growth, which will be essential for the country to sustain a path of growth and reform.