Somali nomad carrying camel new born thru Iphone Hipstamatic - Somaliland
On the way from Zeila to Berbera, we crossed a nomad with a camel. He carried something on his back. First I thought it was a dead goat, but when we stopped, I saw he was carrying on his back a baby camel! Just a new born which could not walk yet! He was on the way to his coastal village, kilometers from there...
Livestock farming is the backbone of Somaliland economy. Every year, an estimated 4.2 million heads of sheep, goats, cattle and camel –mainly living animals- are raised and sailed to neighboring Arab States via the port of Berbera. This number has been steadily growing over last years. Although from 1998 to 2009 (roughly), Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman’s import of meat coming from the African horn was banned because they suspected it was infected by the Rift Valley fever. This measure deeply affected the economies of Somaliland and Ethiopia.
Nevertheless, the growing popularity of Hajj among Muslim worshipers has increased the demand in meat over the past years. The traditional yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia and the rapid growth made the economy of Somaliland pick up again.
And Saudi Arabia announced in early 2011 that it would increase livestock imports by two-fold by the following year. At the same time, Somaliland is pushing forward plans to get a partnership with Malaysia for the exportation of Halal meat.
Indeed, more than a half of the population in Somaliland relies on meat, milk and other livestock products on a daily basis and 70% of job opportunities are related to livestock raising business. Stockbreeding-related activities really are the main source of livelihood for the majority. Besides, the livestock sector represents 50% of Somaliland GDP and nearly the whole export earning.
But nowadays, nomadic stockbreeding is endangered by alternate severe droughts and flash floods combined with overgrazing, which provoke a lack of pasture available for the animals.
Formerly a British colony, Somaliland briefly reached its independence in 1960. It is one of the three Territories, with Puntland and former Italian Somalia that compose the current State of Somalia.
Somaliland proclaimed its independence in 1991, adopting its own currency, a fully independent government, working institutions and police. The authorities organized a referendum in 2001, advocating once again for full independence. However, to date, it is not internationally recognized.
Ethiopian Prime minister Meles Zenawi is the only one to speak about a Somalilander president, recognizing implicitly the existence of an independent State. Indeed the economy of neighboring Ethiopia dramatically depends on Somaliland stability, since the landlocked country’s main trade route passes through the Somalilander port of Berbera… And vice-versa, the economy of Somaliland largely depends on the taxes and duties it charges Ethiopia. Besides that, the principal economic activity of Somaliland is livestock exportation to the Arabian Peninsula. Most people are Sunni Muslims and speak Arabic, as well as some Somali dialect and many of them, English.Lastely, the East African demography being based on clan alliances, it is no surprise that the frontiers drawn by the colonists don’t match the ethnic divisions of territory, leading to open clashes. More broadly, this problem is recurrent across the African continent.
© Eric Lafforgue