Life expectancy, a measure of the average number of years a person is expected to live, serves as a crucial indicator of a country’s overall health and well-being. In the context of Somalia, understanding life expectancy is essential to addressing the multi-faceted challenges facing its people.

Unfortunately, Somalia’s life expectancy has been consistently low, ranking among the lowest in the world. According to the World Bank, the average life expectancy in Somalia is estimated to be around 56 years, significantly below the global average of 72.8 years. This stark reality raises questions about the intricate factors that contribute to this low life expectancy and the urgent need to improve the situation.

To fully comprehend the complexities of Somalia’s life expectancy, it is necessary to delve into a comprehensive examination of the country’s social, economic, and health-related circumstances. Only through a thorough understanding of the underlying causes can we hope to devise effective strategies to enhance the lives of Somalis.

Social Determinants of Health

1. Poverty and Inequality

Poverty in Somalia is a pervasive issue, with a significant portion of the population living in extreme poverty. Limited access to essential resources, such as food, clean water, and sanitation, exacerbates health problems and increases the risk of premature death.

Furthermore, income inequality creates disparities in access to healthcare, nutrition, and education, further widening the health gap between different socioeconomic groups.

2. Lack of Education

Low literacy rates and limited educational opportunities impede access to health information and health-promoting behaviors. Individuals with higher levels of education tend to have better health outcomes, as they are more likely to understand and adhere to preventive measures and seek healthcare when needed.

Health System and Access to Care

3. Limited Healthcare Infrastructure

Somalia’s healthcare infrastructure is severely underdeveloped, with a shortage of hospitals, clinics, and medical personnel. The lack of access to basic healthcare services, particularly in rural areas, contributes to delayed or missed diagnoses and inadequate treatment, negatively impacting life expectancy.

4. Inadequate Health Financing

Financial constraints hinder the expansion and improvement of healthcare services in Somalia. Limited government funding and inadequate health insurance coverage leave many Somalis unable to afford essential healthcare, resulting in delayed or denied care and increased mortality.

Environmental Factors

5. Water Scarcity and Poor Sanitation

Access to clean water and adequate sanitation remains a significant challenge in Somalia. Waterborne diseases, such as diarrhea and cholera, are prevalent and pose a significant threat to life, particularly among vulnerable populations like children and the elderly.

6. Malnutrition

Chronic malnutrition, particularly among children, is a widespread issue in Somalia. Insufficient dietary intake and poor nutrition lead to weakened immune systems, stunted growth, and increased susceptibility to infectious diseases, contributing to higher mortality rates.

Conflict and Displacement

7. Ongoing Conflict

Somalia has been embroiled in a protracted civil war and armed conflict for decades, resulting in widespread displacement and loss of life. The destruction of infrastructure, disruption of healthcare services, and lack of access to basic necessities severely impact the life expectancy of affected populations.

8. Displacement and Refugee Crisis

Conflict and violence have led to a displacement crisis, with millions of Somalis fleeing their homes. Displacement camps often lack adequate sanitation, healthcare, and nutrition, further compromising the health and life expectancy of displaced populations.

Other Factors

9. Gender Disparities

Gender inequality in Somalia contributes to health disparities between men and women. Women have less access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities, leading to higher mortality rates and shorter life expectancies.

10. Cultural Beliefs and Practices

Certain cultural beliefs and practices can influence health outcomes in Somalia. For example, traditional remedies may be preferred over modern medical treatments, leading to delayed or inadequate care and contributing to higher mortality rates.


In conclusion, Somalia’s low life expectancy is a complex issue rooted in a multitude of social, economic, environmental, and political factors. Poverty, inequality, lack of education, limited healthcare infrastructure, and inadequate health financing are just a few of the challenges that contribute to this grim reality.

Addressing the myriad factors that impact Somalia’s life expectancy will require a comprehensive and collaborative effort from the government, international organizations, and the Somali people themselves. By prioritizing health, investing in education, strengthening healthcare systems, and addressing the underlying causes of conflict and displacement, we can work towards improving the lives and life expectancy of all Somalis.



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