Somaliland Cyberspace



BY Hassan M. Hassan, Mohamed A. Mahdi
Livestock/Range Ecology Expert, Environmental Activist
ARAN Chairperson
Nurto Sheikh Mohamed, Veterinarian
BENALPA Chairperson
E-mail contacts are:


The paper is mainly based on reviews, monitoring and assessments carried out for the last seven years, with the latest successfully completed in M/Shabelle during 1st term of 2003, enriched with an analysis conducted during one-day workshop in Mogadishu (June, 20/2003) by Banadir Livestock Professional Associations (BENALPA) and ARAN Organization a member of Resource Management Somali Network. The organized civil societies are willing to take a pro-active role in sustainable development for their respective Communities.

Rangeland health evaluation matrix and social indicators were applied during surveys. PRA approach has been promoted in identifying priority needs of the Communities.

The contents of the study reflect the views and concerns of ARAN and BENALPA networks, therefore itís indispensable to share the outcome with all relevant stakeholders and contribute to the efforts for sustainable livelihood improvements in Mid-Long Term of Central and Southern Somalia Communities.

A specific purpose of the paper is to highlight the root causes and the factors that constrain to livestock sector, the most important single industry that Somali community is highly dependent for livelihoods, which in the past contributed about 80% of export values and 50% of GDP of the Country. Another purpose is to effectively manage range resources of Somalia that comprises about 90% of its Land area and supports livelihood of approximately 63% of the population in the case of central and southern Somalia.

On the other hand it seems necessary to prioritize and shape possible future interventions meant for development to the rural communities in the area, to cope with problems experienced in the past.

Background Somalia has a great wealth in Oceans, which remain untapped by Somalia though not by others, while livestock is the backbone of the countryís Economy. Estimates in 1989 of the resources were 20 Million of Goats, 14 Million Sheep, Seven Million Camels and Five Million Cattle. Animal husbandry is an important activity throughout the country, large percentage of livestock is produced in the marginal rangelands of Central Regions, Coastal areas of Shabelles and Inter-riverine areas.

Generally Livestock species in Somalia have inherent low productivity. Main livestock species in Somalia are indigenous Cattle breeds, Sheep, Goats and Camels

Cattle breeds

Main Cattle breeds are:
Gasara in the coastal areas with low productivity, light body weight and small in size
Dawara, mostly found in the riverine areas, dairy animal, heavier body weight with higher body measurements.
Surqo, trypano-tolerant, dual purpose found in the riverine area (Qoryoley and Jilib area)
Boran, for beef, heavier body weights, found in Trans- Juba and along borders with Ethiopia and Kenya


Sheep are also well known outside the border of the country for their hardiness and productivity in harsh conditions. They are fat rumped and black headed with high fertility rates.

Goats Goats are well adapted to dry land situations of Somalia and normally have a mature weight of 25-30 kg. Goat breeds in Somalia are mainly:
Dheg-Dher, long-eared, heavier body weight and tall, mostly found in trans-Jubba Reverine areas, Bay, Bakool and Hiran Regions.
Dheg-yar, short eared, small body size and weight, mainly found in the costal areas of central Regions
Somali- Arab Goat, a cross-breed, originated from the Arabian Peninsula as believed locally, it has long hair and considered as a dairy Goat. Mostly found in cities along the coast.


Camel breeds in Somalia are mainly:
Hoor, small in size and compact, dairy animal relatively high in fertility and mainly found in Central Regions, Middle Shabelle and Bakool Siifdaar, tall/light in size, dual-purpose medium in fertility and its habitat is mainly in Lower Shabelle.
Eyddimo is tall/heavy, dual-purpose, low milk productivity and low in fertility; its habitat is mainly in Bay, Gedo and Jubba regions.

Pastoralists practice breeding management in all species of Livestock and especially in camel herds selecting the sire, on the basis of phenotypic characteristics and in relation to successorís performance.

In the coastal area, birth is concentrated during Guí period to reduce mortality rate and enhance growth rates of small ruminants Pastoralism & Agro-Pastoralism are the main production systems, whereby livestock is predominantly produced from natural rangelands with limited access to farm residues.

During the collapse of Central Government and the followed clan conflict situations in 1991 resulted total destruction of existed supporting infrastructures such as development projects, marketing institutions, veterinary institutions and all the regulations related to resource management and environmental conservations, with the consequences of improper use of resources, low income and poverty to the Somali Communities.

Unfortunately, the pastoral Communities were marginalized from development and lack basic education and health situation is poor due to the distance to the health centers of the urban centers. They mostly use traditional medicine such as roots for internal parasites, powdered iron oxide collected from abandoned settlements for anemia, Meerah of some acacia species for wounds and trauma, and Arabic gum for various respiratory diseases.

Production Systems/Management

In somalia, Pastoralism, Agro-pastoralisim and small sacle farming are main production systems and subsidery types of production identifiable are Urban livestock production and Government livestock farms.

Small Scale farmers

These may constitute more than 15% of the community and mostly inhabit in the riverine area of Shabelle and Jubba. They produce cereals and oil seeds, which are mostly used as stable food and also cash crops e.g friuts and vegetables Most of these farmers have an acces to irrigation. For the last decades, big plantations emerged for the purpose of commercial friut production for the supply of external markets.

Pastoralists & Agro-Pastoralists.

Pastoralism and Agro-pastoralism are the most prevailing type of production in Somalia (Fig.3). Pastoralists are highly competitive in utilizing the marginal communal rangelands of the country. Family members have full responsibilities of herding and managing their Livestock. Communities are highly mobile throughout the year for a search of pasture and water for their Livestock.

Pastoral and Agro-pastoral communities in central and southern regions of somalia are experiencing a hard life at least once a year, during the peak of the dry season (which could be on Feb. and March). This period of the year they are fully occupied in search for water and pasture for their livestock. They have at worst situation of food insecurity during these two months period of a normal year.

From April, they expect to have successive rainy seasons starting with Gu (AprilĖ June), Hagai (July-September) that supplements and giving showers in the Coastal areas of the south and Der (Oct-December) which is a secondary rainy season.

During the rainy seasons, the rural communities enjoy in having their animals well fed and fattened. There,it produced a plenty of milk. Besides that Agropastrolists, grow crops such as Sorghum, Finger Millet, Cow Pea, Pea Nut, Water Melon and Cassava Roots. Communities are having enough water in the swamps and dug-outs, which will dry up during the dry season. It is the time for the rural communities to organize traditional and religious festivals, weddings and slaughtering many animals for family gatherings (Kulan). Youth are well dressed and gather in many occasions and play for days and weeks enjoying.

During this period households consume relatively more milk in their dietes. People may eat much more than they do require during the rainy season, but might not give attention to dietary diversity and to balance diet. Basic diet is mainly cereals such as Sorghum, Maize and Finger millet. Maize is acquired from the local markets.

They use large quantities of cereals, ghee and milk in one meal, and also consume large quantities of tea.

Generally, in the central regions the selling price of livestock is higher when there is an export opportunities and when the agro-pastrolists harvest crops, mainly cowpea in the east which may suffice the needs of their households only for one month in each rainy season. The agro-pastrolist may depend for supplies of food to local markets for the rest of the year, (Ten Months), while pastoralists are totally dependent to markets for supplies. They all sell milk, livestock, labour and perhaps charcoal, firewood or recieve remittance from relatives in Diaspora to sustain their familiesí welfare.

Urbun Livestock Production

This type of production mainly include small scale dairy cattle which is confined in pack yards and handfed. Communities in the urban area select dairy cattle brought by the pastoralists & Agropastoralists in the markets for milk production to meet the high demand of the product in the big cities. Normally, these animals are fed with grass and forage cut and transported to the urban places, supplimented with concentrates.

Government farms

This type of production is exotic and served for the last three decades as an expremintal and for demonstrations.

Selected local breeds (Dams) of cattle were managed in the facilities,fed with good quality forage (silage and hay),supplimented with concentrates and minerals according to the nutrient requirements of the animals. Water was given to ad-lipitum. Veterinary services were adequatly provided and animals were artificially inseminated with imported semen.

Genetic improvement trails on indiginous cattle showed possitive results in F2 generations,but resulted unsatisfactory and not sustained in the practical fields as the environment (climatic conditions, nutritional status, water availability and diseases) had not been treated appropriatly to host the crossbreeds ( animals upgraded genetically).

There were also commercial boultry farms (layers), well equipped, produced high quality and hygiene standards of eggs. The eggs were consumed locally.


Rangeland eco-systems host a wide biodiversity of semi arid vegetations such as Acacia trees, shrubs and perennial grasses. Rangelands differ in vegetation and density, due to different eco-zones (which are mainly differing in soil type, fertility, altitude and etc). Management is also an essential factor but neglected traditionally in the Somali context, though Resource Management Somali network member teams implemented Range management activities throughout the country for the last several years effectively applying holistic resource management for sustainable livelihood improvement of the Somali community.

Pastoralism is the most prevailing production system traditionally practiced, in response to the semi- arid nature of the country.

Rainfall is erratic and low, especially in the central regions and coastal area. These necessitate immigration of Communities over the seasonal pattern determined by the availability of fodder, water, salt supply, ticks and flies infestation.

During dry seasons or droughts herds may not able to reach places where fodder is available due to the distances of the permanent water sources, as the animals are in depleted body conditions at the peak of the dry period and can not stay without being watered for a long time.

Pastoralists and Agro-pastoralists gather around permanent water sources and adjacent grazing areas as supplies of temporary water sources dry up. Cattle are frequently watered every second day, small ruminants twice a week while camels can endure for week not being watered and remain substantially productive.

Nomadic herds are made up of a mixture of species that allow the full exploitation of range resources.

In the riverine areas cattle are the most important fallowed by sheep, in the coastal areas sheep are most valued as high number of it are produced for export purposes.

The Camel and goats are found in the inland area where taller vegetation for browsing is plenty.

Pastoralists utilize for grazing in the communal rangeland within their territorial clan integrity while Agro-pastoralists, beside the communal land practice private enclosures to keep milking and weak animals supplementing with agriculture residues.

In 1991, when the government failed, all the supporting institutions for the resources (Range, water, Forestry and Wildlife) management disappeared with its consequences of wide misuse of resources resulting of high degree of land degradation.

The law and orderlessness of the country facilitated that charcoal and wildlife are exported to Gulf States resulting widespread of deforestation in most regions of south and central Somalia. Some wildlife species are either endangered or become in extinct.

In this regard, Mrs. Sainab Addo from Women groups of Adale district and a member of Resource Management Middle Shabbelle, remembers from her childhood (three decades ago ) tamed Ostriches roaming freely in the streets of the coastal Town of Adale, feeding on garbage and playing with children.

Unfortunately such birds are not found in the coastal rangelands of Middle Shabbelle Region as its flesh and Eggs were marketed and consumed for traditional medicines.

As the countryís energy needs are from firewood and charcoal harvested from the rangelands, estimates indicate that 800.000 acacia tress destroyed annually in the fields throughout Somalia.

This situation has been worsened by the recent charcoal export from central and southern Somalia, which lead to further removal of more than 300.000 acacia trees annually, from the respective Rangelands, with a total average 1.100.000/yr. Environmental activists estimated also that more than 10.000 Km square in Bay, Hiran and Shebelle Regions are affected by the tragedy associated with charcoal production.

In dry periods, if any forage is left in the fields, itís standing litter, with high contents of lignin, fiber and low in digestibility and nutritive value.

In fact, during such situations the re-growth of perennials and the processes of photosynthesis are minimal, limiting energy flow to the eco-system. In such a situation Livestock will become depleted in body condition and may die in large numbers incase of drought.

Prolonged dry periods and droughts will reduce the vegetation cover in the open Rangelands of Deh, Doy and Debir. Normally herds remain long periods during dry seasons in adjacent areas of permanent water sources subjecting to overgrazing of some palatable species of grasses, which ultimately may disappear from the area. On the other hand overgrazing and bush clearing are the major root causes of land degradation process identifiable that starts in reducing the vegetation cover per unit of land and narrowing the biodiversity of the eco system, resulting in the long run to naked (unproductive) land.

In fact, the scattered bare grounds found in the central regions (Debir, Balli and Doy) are highly susceptible to water erosion where rills and gullies are formed in close succession in the inclined landscape, creating a huge runoff out of a defined range site in many cases. The runoff can easily wash exposed topsoil and litter, disturbing mineral and water cycles of the eco system. The nakedness or reduced vegetation density affects negatively to energy flow to the eco system. Therefore it is highly evident that overall succession of the ecosystem components will remain negative.

In the coastal range lands (Deh), the same trend is occurring but aggravated by wind due to the nature of coastal area. Open rangelands with high velocity of winds made the ecosystem highly fragile and susceptible to wind erosion, creating pedestals, scours and mobile sand dunes toward inland directions occupying the farmlands, roads, water sources and sometimes settlements leaving behind patches of bare ground in the area along the coastal land of Indian Ocean. The soil in the area remain poor, inorganic and loose in structure as the litter and top soil are blown first, therefore high water percolation rates are evident with the consequence of less water retention in root zone, which may eventually result less perennial grass re growth. Ultimately it is overgrazing and selection pressure imposed on the rangelands for long periods that affect the energy flow to the eco system, mineral and water cycles and in fact, the community dynamics of the whole eco system. Such effect creates a situation of low productivity, less fodder availability and may result of high levels of food insecurity in the pastoral/agro pastoral community.


The country lies in the sub Sahara Africa zone and tropical climate prevails. Public health, hygiene and mass effecting animal diseases are serious worries. Since the civil war began in the country in 1991, all the related institutions disappeared and caused the unavailability of public health, hygiene and the control of highly infectious disease. The treatments of ecto and endo parasite are no longer in place. All these setbacks prove that Somalia failed to meet the required standard levels (OIE) of hygiene and quality of livestock export.

In late Nineties, Civil Society organizations and businessmen implemented modern slaughterhouses in Galkayo & Mogadishu with acceptable hygiene environment; this practice had encouraged meat export to the Gulf States. In Somalia, indigenous livestock experience low productivity. Mass effecting diseases such as highly infectious diseases and ecto-endo parasites show importance for controlling and treating respectively.

Infectious diseases can kill a huge number of community herds and sometimes may contribute to the restriction of export opportunities (in case of epizootic diseases) while parasites affect the productivity of the herd such as animal growth and milk production.

Among common infectious diseases in the regions are: CCPP, CBPP, BQ, HS, Bronchitis, Mastitis, TB, bruccella and Salmonellas There could be also isolated outbreaks of anthrax and Rinderpest CCPP, TB and Bronchitis affect mostly in the coastal areas while CBPP, BQ and HS are mainly encountered in the riverine and Trans Jubba areas. Parasites, generally affect the productivity and the output of the pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in Somalia in terms of quantity and quality.

Trypanosome is mainly found in the riverine area while the effects of ticks could be generalized across the ecosystems of central and southern Somalia. During last two years, Somali professionals with the help of INGOs formed institutions that serve the livestock sector by controlling epizootic diseases and creating disease surveillance systems for the purpose of promoting livestock export. These institutions carried out their activities throughout the country and funded by OU/IBAR and EU.

Capacity building and initial capital was provided to Private Veterinary clinics by the INGOs to better deliver services and sell the needed, drugs and tools to Pastoral and Agro-pastoral communities.


Livestock are utilized in three main ways:
A) Subsistence
B) Local markets
C) Live and Carcass export

Pastroralists &Agro-pastrolists generally keep animals unless they are needed for feeding their families. A family may sell five large animals to feed itself for one year, while it might be sufficient to sell only one or two large animals in the right time (when the price is acceptable for livestock and for the cereals) and conserve sufficient grains for the year.

Livestock culling is not well practiced, therefore large number of aged animals remain in the herds. Weak animals are lost in every year during dry period. This situation could be aggravated when one or both of two successive rainy seasons fail, known as light and severe drought respectively. There could be also an out break of epidemic diseases, which drastically reduce the wealth of the rural communities with consequences of a high degree of Food insecurity situations.

Main ports were in Mogadishu and Kismayo, where camels, cattle, and small ruminants were exported to Egypt and Arabian Gulf. In Kismayo, there was a meat factory, which produced canned beef exported to the Soviet Union. Livestock Development Agency (LDA) provided the needs of the factory. The Somali government sponsored LDA.

Joint-venture cooperation between Somalia ĖItalian (GISOMA) in No.50 Afgoi, Lower shabelle region, implemented small ruminants and cattle fattening operations. It had practiced a fodder production, feedlot and quarantine facilities on the ground. The purposes of these activities were to benefit from compensatory growth of Livestock during dry seasons, improved hygiene and health situation to meet O.I.E. standards and to promote Livestock marketing on their behalf.

In Warmahan, Wanla wien district, quarantine facilities and Range Reserves were operated by Ministry of Livestock. Necessary services were given to the traders who bring their livestock for the purpose of a good quality product to meet the requirements of the external markets.

Livestock, hides and skins export were managed by the government who approved the permission for export that was to allow the traders acquire the needed official license such as the L.C., therefore the government Bank received hard currency through that system

The margin taken by livestock producers, traders and other intermediate appeared to be fair as the producers received about 40% of the final retail prices, intermediate (brokers, butchers) about 12% while traders may get up to 15% with the total of sum of 67%..

There is a great movement of livestock and livestock products in the local markets due to higher animal product consumption here. Largely, local markets provide meat animals (culled livestock and fattened in special occasions), breeding stock and animal products such as milk, milk products, skins and hides.

A dairy factory was operating in Mogadishu before the civil war, this factory used to collect milk produced in Shabelle areas such as Qoryoley, Wanla Wein & Qalimow as well as Mogadishu dairy cattle. It produced a pasteurized, confined skimmed milk, yogurt, ghee and cheese.

All these products were consumed in Mogadishu and the surrounding towns. As Mogadishu is densely populated, it hosts the main local market for livestock. Animals were tricked or trucked from far distances, which resulted stress situations to animals before being brought to markets. Meat animals were taken to slaughterhouses, where they conducted series of inspections (ante-post mortem) by the municipality departments designated (veterinarian) to safeguard the public health of the Community.

Unfortunately, all above mentioned institutions and infrastructures collapsed totally in 1991, after the civil upraising in Mogadishu overthrew the Somali Government. This situation had a great impact on livelihoods of different social groups of the Somali Community especially the producers, as livestock demand decreased both in the external and local markets.

During late Nineties, small scale export opportunities knocked at the door from Puntland and Somaliland and pastoralists in the central regions and Benadir areas benefited in selling their off take to traders from Somaliland and Puntland through middlemen.

Businessmen in central and Banadir Regions commenced also the export of Carcasses of small ruminants and camels to the Arabian-Gulf states by Air. In the south, local traders promoted Livestock export to Kenya by tricking cattle through the border to Garissa Market, which transfers it to Nairobi.

The Total number of livestock exports from central and southern Somalia and the margin taken by the producers are far less than the previous numbers (10 to 20%) before 1990. The situation has been aggravated by the ban imposed over Somali livestock export by Gulf States, claiming to the existence of Rift Valley Fever in Somalia. The Ban impacts negatively to the Somali Communityís welfare in general and in particular to the producers.


Lack of adequate policy, instability, poor inputs and high degree of land degradation contribute to the poor quality and hygiene standard levels of the commodities produced in the rural areas of Central and southern Somalia. The situation has been aggravated by the ban of livestock export to Gulf States with its consequences of high levels of food insecurity and poverty to Somali community, in particular to pastoralists and agro-pastoralists.


Fair trade is essential for the welfare of Somali Community and can only be developed through better policy in place on:
- Sustainable Resource use and Environmental Conservations
- Disease control and Public Health
- Fair Trade.

Private institutions and organizations have to play a vital role in setting such policy for the well-being of Somali community.

Such policy might be implemented to accomplish the required standard levels of quality and hygiene (OIE) of the products to be marketed externally.

For practical implementation of the said policy, to crack down on the persistent poverty cycle in Somalia, we may recommend an integrated program promoting activities such as Resource management, disease control, public health and proper marketing.

The components of the program may be carried out simultaneously throughout the Pastoral and Agro-pastoral areas of Central and Southern Somalia.

Re-establishment of effective Somali Government institutions might be a prerequisite for effective large scale implementation of the program, but perhaps itís wise to start implementing activities in small scale at community levels, where conditions are appropriate and well accommodate such interventions.

ARAN Organization in association with Resource Management Somali Network Organizations and Benadir livestock Professionals Association, in partnership with Oxfam Novib and EU/OU-IBAR respectively are carrying out such activities at community levels throughout Somalia, which is a fundamental support for livelihood development of the Somali community.

Improvements made on one sector, such as Marketing may enhance productivity at grassroots level but may impact negatively to the environment. Therefore we feel for the purpose of sustainable livelihood development of the impacted target groups, it is important to consider that all aspects are considered (resource utilization and socio-economic and cultural situation) in the area.

Ultimately, to achieve the purposes of the program seems very essential to set up an effective coordination of all ongoing activities in different components such as Food security, Resource Management, Livestock Health and marketing not only at national but also at Zonal Level. It is necessary to complement each other and struggle for solutions to the poverty situations engulfed to Somali communities.

The program may alleviate and overcome the Poverty in Somali Community and create situations whereby Livestock producers together with the related private and public institutions upgrade product quality and hygiene to the standard levels of OIE.

The Socio-economic groups of the local community will benefit the impact of the proposed program and perhaps thrive with the expected higher incomes and living standards.


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