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Impact of the 2016/17 drought on Somali livestock keepers











Otte, J., Akilu, Y., Wisser, D., Rajagopalan, P. & Zaidi, Z. 2023. Impact of the 2016/17 drought on Somali livestock keepers. FAO Statistics Working Paper Series, No. 23-37. Rome, FAO.



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    Drought has now spread across all of Somalia – from the north’s largely pastoral arid lands, down through the central and southernmost breadbaskets. In 2016, Somalia’s two main rainy seasons were poor, both Gu (April-June) and Deyr (October-December), creating a domino effect of losses for vulnerable farmers and pastoralists. Rural families need urgent support to make it through the harsh dry months of the Jilaal season (January-March), and make the most of the upcoming Gu rains. FAO’s Rapid Res ults Drought Response Plan is a time sensitive call for funds. It responds to the most pressing food security and livelihood needs of people affected by drought across Somalia. The Plan focuses on four short-term tangible results that need to be delivered for families to preserve their sources of food and livelihoods: (i) immediate cash relief, (ii) livestock preservation, (iii) a Gu harvest in 2017, and (iv) livelihood diversification.
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    The FAO Horn of Africa Cross-Border Drought Response Plan outlines the urgent livelihood needs of drought-affected pastoral agropastoral households in vulnerable cross-border areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda. To safeguard livelihoods and improve food security and nutrition, FAO requires USD 39.6 million to reach 363 000 households through immediate activities to minimize livestock losses, boost income, closely monitor the situation and coordinate response.
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    Prosopis juliflora is a thorny, dominant and thirsty tree species that has invaded the main grazing areas in many countries in the Horn of Africa (HoA), posing a major threat to rural livelihoods. The scale of Prosopis expansion is dramatic in the region, e.g. more than one million hectares in both Kenya and Ethiopia, respectively. Widespread planting of Prosopis in Somalia took place in the 1980s as a response to deforestation during and after the Ethio-Somali war and subsequent droughts. Since then it has spread vigorously, invading at least 550,000 hectares in Somaliland alone. However, the Prosopis expansion in Somalia is at a relatively early stage compared to other countries in HoA and there is an opportunity to introduce management before it is too late. Between 2016-18, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Somalia collaborated with the NGO Pastoral and Environmental Network in the Horn of Africa (PENHA) and developed a project entitled “Supporting communities in Somaliland to ‘make Prosopis make money’ through Cash-For-Work (CFW) and small business development”, in Berbera, Odweyne and Toghdeer districts of Somaliland. This project was a component of the Joint Programme on Youth Employment (YES) between the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and United Nations (UN). It aimed to create entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for women and youth to efficiently manage Prosopis pods by processing them into animal livestock feed supplements and charcoal. Moreover, the project established and fostered livestock feed processing cooperatives by creating market linkages.

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