Somali People in Numbers

20 June 2016

For the first time in decades Somalia has published analytical reports on data from the 2014 Population Estimation Survey (PESS). The PESS, a groundbreaking initiative where the country produced the first comprehensive estimates on the Somali population in over four decades through technical support from UNFPA and with funding from DfID and Government of Sweden.

The absence of information on the Somali population challenged planning and programming at all levels for years. This led to the survey, which aimed to provide accurate and reliable estimates of the nature and characteristics of the Somali population including the population size, distribution, geographical coverage and socio-economic characteristics.

As part of a government capacity building plan, staff from the Somali authorities were involved in the drafting and preparation of the reports. Six analytical volumes have been prepared so far: Methodology & Assessment of Data Quality, Population Composition & Demographic Characteristics, Educational Characteristics, Economic Characteristics, Housing & Household Assets and Mobility.

The volumes cover key aspects of the lives of the Somali people including where they live, their numbers, age-sex structure, literacy, school enrolment, employment and occupation, household size, main energy sources for lighting and cooking, the movement of Somalis within and across their borders among other population indicators that have been missing over the past few decades. Two additional volumes on Youth and Gender are also currently being prepared.

UNFPA Somalia Representative Nikolai Botev said from the numbers presented, it is evident that Somalia is demographically very young with three quarters of the population under 30 years of age.

“I would urge Somali authorities, and their national and international partners, including institutions of higher learning, to use the PESS data and the information these analytical reports present. Every number tells a story about a Somali household, and the life it leads,” said Botev.

To access the thematic reports please visit