Drought causes Somali livestock numbers to plummet

By Aidan Fortune contact

- Last updated on GMT

Food crisis in Somalia
Severe droughts have wiped out huge proportions of livestock in Somalia, leaving the population at risk.

According to a report prepared by Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) of the Trade and Markets Division of the FAO, two million people in the country are described as "severely food insecure"​ due to rising food prices.

As a result of a severe drought that lasted over a year, herd sizes are estimated to have decreased by 30-60% in 2017, with the sharpest reductions having occurred in central and northern regions.

This drought led to volatile prices in the country. Prices of livestock declined to very low levels in most markets during the first half of 2017 due to distress sales increasing market supplies and worsening body conditions. Subsequently, prices surged in the second semester of the year as animals became increasingly scarce due to massive losses caused by the drought.

Following the heavy rains in November 2017, livestock body conditions improved in late 2017 in several pastoral areas, conception rates increased and herd sizes started to slowly recover. However, due to the massive livestock losses that occurred during 2017, herd sizes remain well below average.

The livestock sector accounts for about 40% of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is the largest contributor to Somali livelihoods, with over 65% of the population engaged in livestock-rearing activities.

Livestock exports from Somalia to Gulf States, which accounts for 60% of the country’s export earnings, have declined in 2017 to very low levels due to the reduced supply and a ban imposed in December 2016 by Saudi Arabia, the main importer of Somali livestock

The FAO said the recovery of herds to pre-crisis levels will require several consecutive favourable seasons; however, with weather forecasts pointing to below-average rainfall amounts during the upcoming April-June rainy season, animal reproduction is expected at below-average levels in the coming months.

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