The leaders making the pledges hope that the money will be used to control the lawlessness and poverty in the country, which has led to the infamous Somali pirates.
This snippet from AFP includes more background on the country.
Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who took office in January, made a personal plea for funds at the conference, also attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.
Somalia has had no effective central authority since former president Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, setting off a bloody cycle of clashes between rival factions.
Islamist fighters including the hardline Shebab militia have waged battles against the transitional government, its predecessor cabinet and their allies, vowing to fight until all foreign forces withdraw and sharia law is imposed.
More than one million people have fled their homes. Fewer than one in three Somalis, whose life expectancy is 46 years, have access to clean water.
While the conference was not focused on piracy, the high media profile of the growing number of cases of daring raids on freighters on the seas of the Gulf of Aden has become synonymous with Somalia's woes.
"Piracy is not a water-borne disease. It is a symptom of anarchy and insecurity on the ground," Ban said. "Dealing with it requires an integrated strategy that addresses the fundamental issue of lawlessness in Somalia."
Despite international naval missions -- including from NATO and the European Union -- piracy has spiralled over the last year, as ransom-hunting Somalis tackle ever-bigger and more distant prizes.
More than 130 merchant ships were attacked in the region last year, an increase of more than 200 percent on 2007, the International Maritime Bureau said. A tenfold increase was noted in the first three months of 2009.
"If we only treat the symptoms, piracy at sea, but not its root causes -- the decay of the state and poverty -- we will fail," Barroso said.
Non-governmental organisation Oxfam said the conference was being held at a critical moment for 3.2 million Somalis desperately in need of aid, more than a million of whom have fled their homes to avoid fighting in the last two years.