Census and Surveys

The first population and housing census for Somalia was conducted in 1975, which published limited results; the findings from a second population census conducted in 1986/87 were not published officially.

In the absence of census figures efforts have been made over the years to estimate the size, age and sex distribution of the population, in addition to population projections. The most notable attempt was made by UNDOS in ‘Population Statistics of Somalia’ report (1997), and the estimates have been generally accepted as the most reliable population data available. Development agencies have made several attempts to compile reliable data on the size and distribution of the population and social and economic characteristics. Such efforts however, did not receive sufficient support and recognition.

In 2005, UNDP prepared a report entitled ‘Population Estimates and Projection for Somalia, 2005-2010 (draft)’, which shows the estimated population for each year by sex and region. The estimates were based on a number of sources: information available from the 1975 census; a UNDP report on Population Statistics for Somalia, 1997; estimates made by UNHCR of the number of Somali refugees; and the various settlement surveys conducted by UNDP. These estimates were examined by a group of senior Somali professionals in the pre-war Ministry of National Planning, as well as members of the UN Thematic Group on Statistics. Both groups concurred with the population estimates presented for 2005.Their best estimate was a projection of population of just over 7.5 million in mid-2005.They projected the population base on an annual population growth rate of 3.0 percent, estimating a population of 8.4million in mid-2010.They also estimated the distribution of the population by sex and region. These estimates were intended purely for planning purposes, as they were not based on the results of a full census. Currently, the official population estimates in use are derived from the ‘Population Estimation Survey, 2014’ supported by UNFPA.