Somaliland Cyberspace

Milking drylands: the marketing of camel milk in North-East Somalia.

by Michele Nori, Matthew B. Kenyanjui,
Mohammed Ahmed Yusuf and Fadhumo Hussein Mohammed.

Source:Nomadic Peoples 10.1 (June 2006): p9(20).


Increasing market integration appears to be an unavoidable process for most pastoral societies. Raising substitution rates between direct utilisation of animal products and consumption of cereals exchanged through markets is the most important reason for consistent population growth on rangelands (Helland 2000).

To some extent, market exchanges are therefore a determinant of pastoral livelihoods, especially during the dry season when internal food production does not always satisfy households' energy requirements. While offering potential for development, market integration of pastoral economies also presents critical risk factors. Increasing interdependence on regional and global political and economic environments compound pastoral vulnerability to climatic extremes.

The Milking Drylands research initiative (1) addresses these issues in one particular area of the world, Somalia. In this paper, mechanisms regulating the marketing of camel milk in north-eastern Somalia (Region of Puntland) are analysed in order to provide relevant insights into a society that continues to experience a lack of central government and institutional capacities. Our preliminary research findings provide some indications that pastoral dairy marketing serves a number of economic as well as social functions, through the exchange of a number of commodities, non-commodity services and information, which aims to satisfy the needs of both pastoral and urban communities.

Study Rationale

Pastoral communities inhabit areas where constraining soil, rainfall and temperature conditions provide limited effective and sustainable options for land use other than mobile livestock rearing. Food security in these areas is of increasing concern as political and socio-economic changes are reshaping rural livelihoods in many parts of the world. Pastoral societies face more threats to their way of life now than at any previous time, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. These areas are beset by recurrent drought and other severe climatic extremes. Trends of population growth, climate change and globalisation are placing growing pressures upon rangelands and the complex socio-political systems that govern them, and are increasing the vulnerability of pastoral communities.

This article introduces the Milking Drylands research initiative, which aims to understand the shifting livelihood patterns of pastoral communities in the Horn of Africa. More specifically, it focuses on Somali pastoralism. Somali pastoralism extensively relies upon mobility, information networks and market integration, and has a high exposure to the processes of globalisation. A comprehensive analysis of pastoral market dynamics in the Somali region holds great potential to contribute towards the sustainable development of drylands. Preliminary research findings and methodological elements are described in the article. Data presented here were collected directly during fieldwork, or gathered from a number of agencies operating in the research area and verified during field missions.

This research further aims to provide useful indications of the ways in which pastoral societies could contribute to debates relating to globalisation. Concepts such as mobility, risk management, decentralised authority, insecurity, transnationalism, information systems, public goods, and network society are being increasingly acknowledged in current societal debates. While much is still to be learned about these concepts from pastoral cultures themselves, most policies and investments in pastoral areas still aim to sedentarise and 'domesticate' herders and convert them to the 'civilised' lifestyle of settled farmers and urban inhabitants.


While the demise of pastoral livelihoods has been frequently pointed out, in many areas of the world pastoralism represents the most important livelihood strategy of a growing number of households (Blench 2001; Swift 2004). Today, its overall relevance to food security in vulnerable areas is acknowledged, not only in supporting pastoralists' subsistence, but also in contributing to the provision of protein-rich products to town and urban dwellers and to the national economies of poor countries. These contributions derive from marginal lands where other uses have shown limited results in the long run.

Most recent research work in dryland areas has addressed the functioning of range ecosystems (Behnke and Scoones 1993; Behnke 1994). These efforts have stimulated a more comprehensive understanding of pastoral livelihoods, triggering a more constructive approach towards pastoral resource management. This is based on a complex set of temporary or more permanent claims on pasture, water and other resources, and on underlying principles of flexibility and reciprocity (Niamir-Fuller 1999; Thebaud and Battrebury 2001). It involves the direct interaction between three systems in which pastoral people operate, i.e., the natural resource system, the resource users system and the larger geo-political system (Pratt et al. 1997).

The specific and different interactions among these three systems to a significant extent define pastoral livelihood strategies, vulnerability levels and capacities to respond to shocks and adapt to changes. According to Scoones (1999), it is now appropriate for socio-economic researchers to translate this improved understanding into consolidated interdisciplinary analyses of drylands livelihood patterns, so as to counter ongoing misinterpretations and provide pastoral communities with adequate support.

Somalia, the Missing Country

According to development indicators, Somalia is one of the poorest, most marginalised and least developed countries in the world. In 1996 it ranked 172 out of 174 countries on the United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index (HDI). Since then, Somalia has been excluded from ranking on the HDI due to lack of data. Poor quality soils, high temperatures and erratic rainfall patterns pose traditional constraints to production in Somali environments. Consequently, mobile livestock rearing represents the major source of local livelihoods and the traditional backbone of the Somali economy.

The colonial scramble for East Africa has left the Somali people with their land split among five different countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Somaliland and Djibouti. As a result, Somali pastoral communities sharing the same environment, cultural features and livelihood patterns are scattered throughout the Horn of Africa in what has been defined as 'the Somali ecosystem'. This concept is suggestive not only of similar ecological conditions (as the nature of soils and the rain patterns are similar throughout the sub-region), but also of a continuum pattern that characterises the man-made networks and relations that make these populations integrated and interdependent across borders. Indeed, pastoral resource management patterns imply extensive links that facilitate the regional movement of livestock and people, as well as of information, services and commodities (Nori and Majid, 2002).

Projections for 2001 estimated the Somali national herd to be about 5.2 million cattle, 13.5 million sheep, 12.5 million goats and 6.2 million camels, with cattle concentrated in the south and camels in the drier rangelands of the north. Livestock-inhabiting neighbouring areas of the wider Somali ecosystem should also be accounted for in this analysis, as these animals and their herders traditionally participate and contribute to the overall Somali economy and society.

Distinctive aspects of Somali pastoralism are the centrality of the pastoral mode of production and the degrees of market orientation, cultural crossover and global integration of the whole Somali society. In contrast to other regional systems--where they represent marginalised sectors--pastoralists are by far the leading force of Somali society. Furthermore, due to historical and geographical features, food security and development of Somalis increasingly rely upon enhanced market integration of local livelihoods and globalisation of their economy. These trends are well indicated by the relevance of imported staples (mainly cereals) and of diaspora remittances to the national economy.

Conflictive conditions are another distinct feature of the Somali society, with insecurity generated by a number of different factors including internal clan rivalries, rangeland access disputes, pan-Somali feelings, and geo-political interests encroaching from neighbouring countries. The history of a central local government in Somalia is limited to a few decades, and mainly characterised by the rule of General Siad Barre, who seized power through a coup d'etat in the late 1960s and lost it at the beginning of the 1990s with a civil conflict that ravaged the country, bringing a humanitarian crisis. Somalia has lacked a central government for more than a decade, representing a unique case in the world.

As a consequence of these processes, Somali pastoralists are more exposed to market dynamics than most pastoral societies, thus both enjoying the benefits and sharing the related risks entailed. In this context, market exchanges represent a major determinant of subsistence, an option for development and a further risk factor for local livelihoods. The balances and trade-offs between these elements are critical in supporting or undermining local livelihoods. The following chart shows the relative importance of diverse food options for a typical pastoral household in a 'reference year'. A pastoral group of 'average' socio-economic status has access to a large enough herd, so that it is able to directly produce almost half of its food needs while purchasing the other half, often with the revenues generated from the marketing of livestock products. (2)

The research reported here focuses on a specific area of this Somali ecosystem, the region of Puntland. Puntland is composed of the three north-east regions of Somalia: Bari, Nugal and North Mudug, totalling an area of 212,510 square km (roughly one-third of Somalia's geographical area). It borders northwest regions in the west, the Gulf of Aden in the north, the Indian Ocean in the south-east, central regions in the south, and Ethiopia in the southwest. Puntland is semi-arid, with a warm climate and average daily temperatures ranging from 27[degrees]C to 37[degrees]C. Rainfall is variable and sparse, with no one area receiving more than 400 mm of rain annually. Average annual rainfall in Boosaaso (the region's capital) is about 50 mm.

Pastoralism is therefore the most effective livelihood option in the area, with most valuable pastures in the Hawd zone, the high plateau west of Mudug, into Ethiopia, in the neighbouring Sool region and the low Nugal valley. Following the civil strife that ravaged Somalia, a regional State of Puntland was established in August 1998 after a decision was made by traditional and political leaders following the failure of several national reconciliation efforts.

Challenged Rangelands

Critical processes impacting pastoral livelihoods in the Somali ecosystem are human population increase, the fragmentation of the socio-political environment and encroaching globalisation. Interrelations and interactions between these processes result in overall increasing pressures on productive but fragile Somali rangelands, stretching traditional ecological and social fabrics and carrying major consequences for local food security. The whole sub-region seems to be in a state of transition, which is becoming permanent. This is manifested in the following ways.

The absence of state authority and related centrally planned policies and investments, coupled with almost non-existent development interventions, provide limited room for much-needed economic growth and diversification in these marginal areas. Options for alternative livelihoods are scant, and young Somalis are forced either to migrate or to devote themselves to traditional livestock herding in order to eke out their living. Moreover, conflictive conditions and refugee fluxes have undermined traditional resource management and the Somali economy as a whole. As a consequence, Somali rangelands are supporting an increasing number of people and demands, which challenge their carrying capacity.

Due to the dramatic socio-political turmoil faced during the last decade, the Somali socio-political fabric is also under pressure. Distortions and erosion of Somali customary institutions started when state-related formal structures were superimposed onto them and led to contested claims over resources control. This process has followed different patterns, depending on the diverse forms of state control and institutional setting. While the situation in different parts of the Somali ecosystem has been recently analysed (Hagmann 2005; Hoehne 2005), these tensions were undoubtedly a major reason that triggered the collapse of the central state in Somalia.

The increasing interconnectedness between different territories, societies and people brought by globalisation trends is particularly important for Somalia, due to its large coastline (second in the continent after South Africa) and its Strategic geoposition, facing the Arabian peninsula. The economic boom Arab countries underwent as a result of oil exploitation fuelled the import of livestock products from the Horn of Africa, thus specifically fuelling the regional economy as well as the migration of the Somali labour force. Influences from the wider global environment also include large remittance flows, risks related to the easy availability of modern weaponry, the growing consumption of that (Catha edulis, a local stimulating plant, often imported from neighbouring countries) and forms of religious radicalism.

All these processes have had an impact upon ongoing struggles within political, economic, social, generational and gender spheres in the Somali society. While traditional authorities seem to have regained a predominant position in local governance, customary institutions are challenged with widening social stratification, the emergence of a generation gap and redefined gender roles. These critical factors are internalised and also expressed in conflictive forms, resulting in degrees of insecurity. As is the case for other pastoral societies (de Haan and Gautier 1999) the crisis in decision-making and the resulting institutional shock both are of primary importance in the reshaping of Somali pastoralism. It is within this context that pastoral markets represent an important development option: building upon pastoral resource management, skilled entrepreneurial capacities and international networks, Somali society is seeking a way out of food insecurity, political marginalisation and civil strife.

The Development of Pastoral Markets

Livestock products represent the most important source of income for the predominantly pastoral population, and ensure food security to the whole country. Meat and milk constitute 55 percent of the calorie intake of the entire Somali people (EC 2001), and revenues from the commercialisation of pastoral products provide the Somali economy with the much-needed resources to purchase imported staples. Livestock export trade is a traditional feature of the Somali economy. It was boosted particularly during the oil boom, which resulted in consistent increases in demand for meat in Arab countries. Before the coup of 1991 Somalia derived more than 80 percent of its export earnings from the livestock sector. The economy was (and still is) very dependent on livestock production and trade, although remittances are probably more important today (Little 2003: 37).

Since the fall of the Siad Barre regime and the subsequent collapse of the agriculture-based national economy--which developed in greener southern Somalia along the Wabi Shebelle and Juba rivers (e.g. banana export to Europe)--livestock trade has expanded to become the most important economic activity in the Somali ecosystem, whose rangelands have been trading livestock at the international level for centuries (Samatar 1989). Compared to other production systems, the impact of the civil war on livestock production and marketing has in fact been relatively limited due to the resilience of pastoralism itself, which maintains effective coping mechanisms and adaptive strategies. At present livestock alone accounts for about 40 percent of Somalia's GDP and about 65 percent of its export earnings (UNCTAD data).

Export figures clearly attest to an expansion and development of Somali livestock trade, particularly in the northern ports of Berbera and Boosaaso, which suffered a more limited impact from the civil strife compared to the more southern ports of Mogadishu and Kisimayo. Arab countries have been major recipients of Somali livestock--mainly sheep and goats--in recent decades, particularly Saudi Arabia in the period from before Ramadan to the end of the Hajj, when millions of Muslim pilgrims converge on Mecca. In 2001 these countries imposed a second and major ban on the import of Somali livestock. The ban was technically justified on animal health grounds, in accordance with the Office International des Epizooties International Code, following episodes of Rift Valley Fever that spread during the holy pilgrimage and the lack of an effective vet control system in the country (the ban also possibly reflecting economic interests of other powerful livestock export lobbies). The impact on pastoral livelihoods was immense, as Somali livestock export figures dropped dramatically after years of almost constant growth.

While the consequences of the livestock ban on local livelihoods were dramatic, alternative options have been developed over time to adapt to the new economic setting. Proactive measures involved:

* development of new livestock export routes, still involving Gulf countries but also Libya and Egypt, especially with export of live camels;

* diversification towards livestock products with increasing market demand (e.g., canned meat to the UAE);

* enhanced cross-border trade towards Kenyan markets and trade routes (Little 2003);

* emergence of camel milk marketing to supply the demands of a growing urban population.

These processes have developed despite the lack of national authorities, services and policies, which should normally support sectoral development and interface between pastoral societies, markets and the wider global environment. The reactions to the problems posed by the livestock ban have shown once more the outstanding capacities of Somalis to manage risk, cope with uncertainties and adapt to changes.

The Commercialisation of Camel Milk

The one-humped camel (Camelus dromedarius) is the most precious asset to Somali pastoralists, as it represents the vital 'technology' that allows the production of food in these environments by converting browse forage into quality and nutritious products. The economic potential of camels in arid and semi-arid lands is increasingly being recognised, together with their comparative advantages when compared to cattle and small ruminants in terms of their adaptability to harsh climatic conditions (Han Jianlin 2004).

Camel herdsmen populate most of the rangelands in north-eastern region of Puntland, where camel milk ensures food security for a large part of the population during the long dry jilaal season. During the dry seasons, it is in fact only camels that are able to maintain milk production while sheep, goats and cattle can no longer sustain lactation, because of their physiological dependence on large amounts of water for metabolism and cooling. Camel milk marketing (CMM) in this part of the Somali ecosystem emerged as a result of major socio-economic changes, also developing in response to critical economic conditions created by the livestock export ban. It shows some distinctive traits when compared to the more traditional and long-established livestock trade and other forms of milk marketing.

The camel shows outstanding features when compared to other dairy animals. A camel's lactating period is longer than that of cows; milk is produced even under dry conditions and to some extent it preserves its qualities under harsh climatic extremes, thus providing options for transport and processing in dryland environments. The nutritional value of camel milk is widely acknowledged. Compared to cow milk it has higher protein and lactose levels, and is richer in minerals and in vitamins (especially A, B and C complexes), while fat content is lower in camel milk, thus reducing cholesterol levels (Wernery 2003). Risks from TB and Brucella are lower. As a consequence, camel milk is especially utilised in the diets of children, sick and elderly persons. Increasingly, therapeutic properties of Camel milk are also recognised. It has been proven to boost the immune system against infections and allergies and provide relief to some diseases such as peptic ulcers and skin cancers. Its use in hospitals in some Arab countries (e.g., UAE) also addresses TB and HIV/AIDS-related problems.

Due to its specific features, camel milk traditionally represents the staple food of Somali pastoral households and is a nutritional supplement for the increasing urban population. Its income generation role is quite recent as it was usually exchanged as a gift to establish and maintain family ties and social support mechanisms. In some areas of the Horn of Africa the sale of camel milk is still taboo. Previous reported experiences of its commercialisation in Somalia relate to the late 1980s, when camel milk marketing networks were established in southern Somalia to serve urban demands from the capital, Mogadishu (Herren 1990). As a result of the civil strife that remoulded the Somali socio-economic fabric, camel milk has increasingly become a marketable commodity in other parts of the region and related trade has developed accordingly.

Current indications are that the commercialisation of camel milk in Somalia is expanding and increasingly represents a vital asset to ensure food security and promote the socio-economic development of a larger number of pastoral households. The camel milk trade shows a high degree of complexity, flexibility and effectiveness. It is complex as it involves a variety of agents, interests and relationships that continuously remould over time. It is flexible as it has to change through seasons, and adapt to a variety of uncertain conditions (e.g., erratic rainfall or insecurity). It efficiently serves a variety of different needs and interests on a continuous basis. While current CMM developments aim to satisfy increasing local urban demand, the demand from Arab countries provides further potential for its expansion.

Seasonality plays a major role in marketing as camel milk supply, quality and transport problems change drastically from the dry to the rainy seasons, with consequent price fluctuations. The long dry season (jilaal) represents the most difficult time, as milk supplies are lower, camels are grazing further from markets and environmental conditions are harsher. Pastoralists carefully consider economic trade-offs before selling their milk in these periods, although they are often limited in their choice by the need for cash to address household and herd needs (e.g., the purchase of water).

Camel Milk Marketing (CMM) is a developing women's enterprise aimed at ensuring food security, generating some income and providing a buffer to cope with critical situations. It is an entirely private enterprise revolving around a trust system (money is paid after milk is sold) and operating without any formal institutional frame. CMM relies upon networks of people and organisations (the marketing agents) that create complex relationships and engage in a variety of socio-economic activities. These networks materialise in specific 'corridors' through which commodities, services, information and people are flowing in combined but contrasting directions so as to satisfy the needs of both pastoral and urban communities.

These corridors are territorial patterns that serve to interlink the coastal areas (and--through the ports--the international arena) with the seemingly isolated inner drylands, thus allowing continuous exchanges between pastoral products, imported goods and the interrelated flows (Map 1). Major corridors in the Somali ecosystem are:

* Issa: Shinille (Ogaden)--Djibouti--Awdal (Somaliland)
* Issaq: Jijiga--Hartisheikh--Hargeisa--Berbera
* (Darod) Ogaden--Majerteen: Warder (Ogaden)--Puntland (Somalia)
* (Darod) Ogaden--Marehan/Majertein: Garissa (NE Kenya)--Gedo--Juba Kismayo
* Garre: Liben (Ogaden)--Wajjir--Lower/Middle Juba--Merka
* Ogaden--Hawiye: Gode--Belet Weyn--Mogadishu

Traditionally, the corridors cross-cutting the Somali ecosystem are based on clan linkages and utilised for trading livestock. Other forms of 'corridors', based on ecological conditions and resulting economic specialisations, can also be traced and superimposed on these such as the cattle corridor (towards Kenya), the grain corridors (from riverine areas), the food relief corridors (depending on where a crisis happens) and others (Nori and Majid 2002). The CMM corridors hold a specific nature, as Somali women hold more 'ambiguous' clan affiliation and maintain alternative forms of association based on solidarity and reciprocal support mechanisms that go beyond the family or the kin group (UNIFEM 1998). As social constructions, the corridors are continuously conditioned and reshaped by socio-political and economic processes taking place at local, regional and global levels.

CMM agents play distinct and complementary roles in different time and space scales and benefit or experience risk differently in this enterprise. Primary Milk Collectors (PMC) are women located in mobile camps which follow seasonal pastoral transhumance in order to collect fresh milk from surrounding herders on a daily basis. Collected milk is then sent to Secondary Milk Collectors (SMC) based in the recipient town markets, who receive camel milk daily and distribute it to market retailers. Transport Companies (TC)--managed by men--are hired by women collectors to carry milk and related information and goods; distances covered daily through rangelands may surpass a hundred kilometres.

The links between gender and market roles are quite significant in this context. While women collectors' relationships constitute the backbone of the network, male-managed transport companies represent the lifeblood of the system. In some cases TCs seem to take over the major functions and responsibilities from women collectors as the system grows or as particular conditions develop (e.g., during a lengthy drought).

All agents include a mark-up in the milk price for the task they undertake in the system with risks, costs and benefits seasonally differentiated for the diverse agents. Although the value of milk is expressed in cash terms, many actual transactions take place either on a credit basis or in the form of bartering, in exchange for food or non-food commodities. Other goods are in fact traded complementarily and inversely through the CMM system, in order to satisfy pastoral needs for non-animal products as well as to increase the overall convenience of traders.

These exchanges are of particular importance during the dry season, when their own food production is inadequate to satisfy the energy requirements of pastoral households. A case study in the Ogaden--traditionally a food insecure area in the Somali ecosystem--shows that the sale of livestock milk products generates more than 80 percent of the income needed to satisfy basic needs among pastoral households in dry periods, while it contributes about 40 percent during the rainy season, when milk is in surplus (Abdi Abdullahi Hussein 1999).

Critical interfaces for assessing and analysing the economics of CMM are the terms of trade (ToTs) between pastoral and imported goods. Caloric terms of trade are favourable for pastoral milk-sellers: weight for weight the energy content (calories) of cereals is about five times greater than that of milk. To take an illuminating example, camel milk contains about 700 cal/kg, while traditionally exchanged cereals such as rice and wheat contain about 3.300-3.500 cal/kg (FSAU 2001). In relation to the price, the relationship is the inverse, with weight equivalents of milk products fetching higher prices than cereals.

In terms of food energy, exchanging pastoral products for grain staple cereals seems therefore to be an advantageous strategy for pastoralists (see also Dietz et al. 2001). Field indications attest to the fact that, during times of crisis, market convenience for pastoralists declines, with terms of trade moving inexorably against pastoral milk producers. To take an example, during the year 2000 pastoralists' purchasing power in north-east Somalia was cut to almost one-third of its 1999 value, due to the critical economic situation created by the first livestock export ban. An extended drought that shrank camel reproductive capacities further compounded this critical situation. While, as we have seen, the overall sector has reacted proactively, poor pastoralists' strata have suffered dramatically from these critical conditions, curtailing their livelihood options.

In the short term, pastoral producers enjoy limited returns from their activities, and their purchasing power declines when conditions get harsher. The rationale would be that this situation is due to the fact that pastoralists operate mainly within a subsistence-oriented economy and tend then to be squeezed by the other agents that operate with a more market-oriented approach. While a better understanding will be derived from longer-term analysis, research indications so far suggest that pastoralists have limited access to updated information of market pricing and hold limited negotiation power in the bush due to limited alternative options.

The Milking Drylands Research Initiative

The food security and sustainable development of Somali society--notably one of the most marginalised and vulnerable in the world--are currently developing through enhanced market integration of pastoral livelihoods and globalisation of the local economy. Although these processes have been developing for decades, Somali pastoralists are still struggling to get adequate compensation for their products and services.

Overall figures from the limited official data, grey literature on the area and preliminary indications from the research indicate some critical trends paralleled by interesting development options. The Milking Drylands initiative builds upon these elements to develop a more thorough understanding of Somali pastoral livelihoods in order to contribute to improving the food security and sustainable development of pastoral communities in the Horn of Africa. More specifically, through the analysis of emerging Camel Milk Marketing in the Somali ecosystem the research will address critical issues related to gender, governance and marketing.

The research requires an innovative and comprehensive methodology that enables multi-disciplinary and inter-sectoral analysis of the intriguing nature of pastoral markets. To undertake this challenge, local concepts have been developed to support data collection and analysis through an indigenous lens, in particular the ways in which Somali pastoralists perceive their territory and strategically manage their resources. The 'Corridor Approach' provides the research with analytical and comparable socio-economic units. Should conditions allow, an extension of this research to Somali regions in Ethiopia (Ogaden) and Kenya (north-east provinces) would provide comparative analyses of the influence that diverse cultural patterns, forms of state control and market forces have on the functioning of these corridors within the Somali ecosystem.

By developing an appropriate understanding of CMM, the potential exists to develop the camel industry so as to promote better food and economic security in the region. Through a development lens, the Milking Drylands research aims to understand the socio-political as well as the nutritional, environmental and health implications of growing camel milk commercialisation in north-eastern Somalia. Options to provide adequate support to pastoral dairy marketing will also be analysed, as well as opportunities for utilising pastoral markets as an early warning system for critical situations will be assessed, together with the options for exploiting milk market-related networks for animal health monitoring in the region.

Preliminary indications from the research highlight the relevance of women and their capacity to invest in socio-political capital and thus trigger endogenous development by cutting down transaction costs. Physical assets, such as urban expansion, communication networks and transport facilities, are a necessary prerequisite for integrating pastoral economies. Environmental implications of ongoing changes need to be carefully assessed, as rangelands are rich but fragile ecosystems, milk trade concentrates herders towards road networks, and the proliferation of milk camps may degrade certain areas.


The Milking Drylands initiative is funded by the European Commission Marie Curie programme and is part of the CERES PhD programme, implemented through the Rural Sociology Dept, Wageningen University.

This research has developed from the UNA milk project, where the authors of this paper had the chance to meet and collaborate. The project was funded by the European Commission, Food Security budget in the Region of Puntland, Somalia.

Various versions of this paper have been presented at a number of conferences throughout Europe during the years 2004/5, including the 85th seminar of the European Association of Agriculture Economists to the European Forum of Agricultural Research for Development, the Young Scientists Programme of the Engelberg Forum, and the first European conference on African Studies of the Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies.

We thank Kate Wood and Nisar Majid for their outstanding editing efforts.


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(1.) This paper has been developed as part of the research initiative 'Milking Drylands: gender networks, pastoral markets and food security in stateless Somalia', funded by the European Commission--Marie Curie programme and by the CERES Programme for Innovative Research.
(2.) Refer to the Food Economy terminology, which provides the methodological basis for the Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU Somalia).
Michele Nori is a tropical agronomist devoted to pastoral livelihoods, he has been working as a development practitioner with different organizations in a number of pastoral regions of the world. Currently engaged in a part-time PhD research supported by the EC Marie Curie programme with the Sociology Dept. of the University of Wageningen (NL).
Mathew B. Kenyanjui is a Kenyan with a veterinary background, he has been working with a number of international organizations in the Horn of Africa on livestock-related matters; He is currently engaged with the ICRC in region five of Ethiopia.
Mohammed Ahmed Yusuf is a Somali national from Qardho with a comprehensive knowledge of the Somali pastoral system and community mobilization and development; currently engaged with CARE international in Puntland.
Fadhumo Hussein Mohammed: originally from Mogadishu, she has a veterinary background and a longstanding experience on livestock matters in the Somali context. She is currently working with FAO in Puntland.
Figure 1. Options for Accessing Food for an Average Somali Pastoral Household
Gifts & Remittance 45%
Own production 50%
Purchase 5%
Source: FSAU 2000
Note: Table made from pie chart.
Source Citation:Nori, Michele, Matthew B. Kenyanjui, Mohammed Ahmed Yusuf, and Fadhumo Hussein Mohammed. "Milking drylands: the marketing of camel milk in North-East Somalia." Nomadic Peoples 10.1 (June 2006): 9(20). Academic OneFile. Gale. Hamline University - Bush Library-CLIC. 12 Sept. 2007