Somalilandsun: Livestock is one of the main economic pillars for Somali communities. In Somaliland live animal exports are vital for its economy, contributing 85% of export earnings and 30% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and directly and indirectly employs 70% of the population (Mugunieri et al., 2016).
At the production level, the livestock value chain is mainly supplied by smallholder producers (pastoralists and agro-pastoralists) whose livelihoods are directly linked to livestock rearing and trade. Other actors involved and directly benefiting from the livestock export value chain include traders and agents of exporters, service providers (veterinarians, agro-vet shops, transporters, quarantine stations, port facilities, etc.), government (through tax receipts), and exporters.
Somaliland’s livestock exports are mainly directed to the Saudi Arabian market (especially for sheep and goats) with other Middle East markets growing in importance (Yemen and Oman for cattle and UAE for sheep and goats). In 2016, Somaliland exported about 3 million heads of livestock to the Arabian Peninsula (AP) from Berbera Port, including 2.8 million sheep and goats to Saudi Arabia (SLCCIA, 2016). The Muslim Hajj season represents the peak season, and estimates of its importance on trade range between 52% (Mugunieri et al., 2016) and 70% (Majid, 2010) of total exports. The period between the months of Ramadan and Dhu Al Hijja (Islamic calendar) forms the main part of the peak season.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has considerably impacted this trade during the peak Ramadan period in 2020. The Saudi government decided to suspend the Umrah visits (those to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina outside of the Hajj period) from March 2020 (France24, 2020) and has drastically reduced and limited the number of persons to attend the Hajj pilgrimage. From a number of 2.5 million pilgrims who attended in 2019, the following year (2020) the number was a tiny fraction of around 10,000 persons (Aljazeera, 2020).
In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic and the collapse in oil prices have negatively impacted the oil-dependent economies of the AP countries’ economies (Arezki et al., 2020). These dynamics portend considerable losses for the Somaliland government and livestock value chain actors.
With the livestock sector playing an important socioeconomic role in the Somaliland economy, particularly through revenues from exports, the partial ban on livestock imports from Somalia imposed by Saudi Arabia due to animal health concerns has resulted in significant negative economic impacts for the government and the value chain actors involved thence a study titled Zoonotic diseases and the COVID-19 pandemic: Economic impacts on Somaliland’s livestock exports to Saudi Arabia
In this study, based on a combination of secondary data and the use of a recently developed system dynamics model of the small ruminant value chains, the researchers assessed the economic costs and social implications for the Somaliland economy in general and small ruminants subsector in particular due to partial livestock export bans (temporarily lifted during the Hajj season) and the current COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent reduction in the number of Hajj pilgrims.
Follow link to read full study report Zoonotic diseases and the COVID-19 pandemic: Economic impacts on Somaliland’s livestock exports to Saudi Arabia