Dairying / Drought / East Africa / Food Security / Livestock Systems / Pastoralism / Pro-Poor Livestock / Somalia / Vulnerability

Snapshot of Somalia: A country dominated by livestock and livestock peoples

Nomad with camel on way to Berbera

A Somali nomad with his camel on the way to the deep-sea commercial seaport of Berbera, in the Gulf of Aden, in the north, where live sheep, camels and other livestock are exported to the Gulf states (photo on Flickr by Charles Fred).

The information below is from the website of Vétérinaires sans Frontières-Germany.

‘Somalia has been since 1991 in the civil war and has since then no more firm government. The political situation is extremely tangled.

‘International NGOs are operating under a very dangerous security situation in Somalia. The country is driven by the role of clans and by the evolving roles of business, religious and civic groups.

‘Somalia has lacked a functioning central government since 1991, when armed opposition groups’ overthrow of the existing government resulted in turmoil, factional fighting, and anarchy. Somalia’s current transitional government is the result of a national reconciliation process, 1 of 15 such efforts since 1991.

‘In March 2007 an African Union peacekeeping mission was deployed to Somalia, but a shortage of troops has hindered peacekeepers’ ability to achieve their mission. . . .

‘Somalia has been the site of continuous humanitarian operations since 1990. The UN and the World Bank classify Somalia as a least-developed, low-income country and one of the most food-insecure countries in the world. Somalis have suffered from persistent high levels of poverty, and Somalia’s human development indicators are among the lowest in the world. For example, according to the UN’s 2006 Human Development Report, life expectancy at birth is only 46 years and only 29 percent of the population has access to a source of clean water.

‘According to the European Commission Report, the livestock sector in Somalia dominates the economy, creating about 60% of Somali’s job opportunities and generating about 40% of Somalia’s GDP and 80% of foreign currency earnings. Despite insecurity, political instability and bans by some major importing countries over the past 18 years, the number of animal and meat exported has grown. Currently Somalia exports 3 million sheep and goats, 176,000 cattle and 11,000 camels per year. The private sector led export industry has helped to mitigate the impact of state collapse and war on the Somali people.’

Other pages on the Vétérinaires sans Frontières-Germany website describe projects in Somalia to promote:

internationally competitive meat industry ‘Animal husbandry is very important in Somalia. Animal production and marketing are the major sources of food, income and employment for most of the population. The export of meat and livestock is also the most important source of revenue for regional administrations and national institutions. However, meat and livestock from Somalia were subject to an import ban for several years, as both did not meet international requirements. This has its cause in the civil war: The conflict which lasted more than 20 years completely destroyed the infrastructure for the production and marketing of meat. Before the war, Somalia had plenty of expertise and personnel in this area. When the war began, no more personnel was educated, for instance in animal health. Many of the previously educated vets were killed in the war, others left the country for safety reasons. This made regular controls of animal health and meat hygiene impossible and the quality of the products sank accordingly. In order to win back the trust of the importers of Somali meat products and livestock, disease control, meat hygiene and food safety need to be essentially improved. This is not only important for export but also for the Somali population, which consumes the animal products. . . .’

pastoral dairy development ‘In Somalia, milk is one of the most important foods—it is the major source of protein and vitamins for the population. Apart from this, livestock farmers can achieve daily revenues by selling milk, which in turn enables them to pay school fees for their children or buy food. In many Somali regions it is so hot and dry, that only little fruit and vegetables can be grown. This makes the nutrients gained from milk even more important, as people are barely able to cover their daily requirements from other products. Especially for growing children, who need a lot of calcium to build their bones, camel milk is indispensable as a nutrient provider. However, there is no milk industry or modern milk processing in Somalia. The demand for milk is very high, especially in urban areas, but providing milk in good quality and sufficient amounts is a problem. Milk producers, suppliers and women vendors (in Somalia, milk is traditionally sold only by women) often lack knowledge on how to bottle or transport milk in a hygienic way. Thus, milk is often contaminated with bacteria and its consumption bears a considerable risk for diseases. . . .’

emergency support to vulnerable pastoral communities ‘In Mid and South Somalia, a long and harsh drought period has exacerbated the already tense nutritional situation. This has caused a severe crisis in supplying the population with food. Food prices have risen by up to 375%. At the same time, many pastoralists(people subsisting on animal husbandry in rural regions) lost their herds—and thus the basis for their nutrition and income—due to the civil war and the drought. This has driven many of them to refugee camps or urban slums. . . .’

Please visit the website of Vétérinaires sans Frontières-Germany for more information.

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