Climate change impacts on livestock in Somalia

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Bayan Research Center of America
Bayan Research Center | | Opinion Article | Climate Change & Livestock
October 23, 2021 1
Climate change impacts on livestock in Somalia
There are continuous threats of climate change being imposed to agriculture, livestock, and forest
sectors across the world. These sectors showed great vulnerability due to large dependence upon
the natural systems. The livestock sector in developing and poor countries largely depends upon
the natural forests and rangelands. About 65% area in the Africa has been categorized as
rangelands which provides grazing and browsing for 59% of ruminants1. The drought and
changing precipitation patterns in the phenomenon of climate change has badly devastated the
potential of pastoral systems to provide feed for grazing animals. Since, agriculture and livestock
rearing are main source of livelihood in rural areas, the impact of climate change are more
prominent in rural areas. Therefore, the poverty and climate change are closely linked with each
other. Other than economic importance, the devastating impacts of the climate change on livestock
also possess great threats to local food security because of large contribution of this sector. That’s
why, the poverty alleviations and food security programmes in rural areas, keep the livestock and
agriculture on top priority.
The arid and semi-arid areas of the Somalia represent 80% of landmass which at very high risk of
the climatic extremes. The arid regions already receive less rainfall (250 mm per annum). The
Bayan Research Center of America
Bayan Research Center | | Opinion Article | Climate Change & Livestock
October 23, 2021 2
decreasing precipitation in future will result severe drought in such regions. Out of total lands in
Somalia, 50% area is under permanent pastures2 and only 13% is suitable for agriculture activities.
More than half (60%) of the population in Somalia are nomadic or semi-nomadic pastoralists and
this proportion is even higher than other African countries3. The strong winds, drought and floods
and rising temperature are certain consequences of climate change being observed in Somalia. The
people in the Somalia are at the risk of devastating consequences of climate change because 65%
population depends upon the natural system for their livelihoods in which agriculture and
pastoralism are main activities4. Each decade in Somalia had major climatic extreme since 1960s5.
Between 1960-2010, the country has observed eight severe floods and eight severe droughts. The
floods are mainly confined to coastal areas and high rainfall areas, while drought impacts are more
The reports of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other predictions made in
various studies revealed that the frequency of both floods and drought will increase in future. The
annual temperature in the Somalia is likely to increase by 0.8°C, 2.5°C and 3.2°C in 2030, 2050
and 2080 and the respective changes in annual rainfall were +1%, +3% and +4%4. The sea surface
temperature in the Indian ocean is likely to rise by 50 cm by end of 21st century6. It has implications
Bayan Research Center of America
Bayan Research Center | | Opinion Article | Climate Change & Livestock
October 23, 2021 3
both for precipitation trends and flood frequency. The trees have relatively great drought tolerance
than grasses. The long prevalence of drought in pastoral lands may also reduce the number of
palatable grasses and increase the population of non-browsing trees.
The maximum share in GDP from livestock is about 40% which is followed by agriculture. The
livestock contribution in Agriculture added GDP is more than 90%. Both the sectors under rainfed
conditions are badly affected by the weather vagaries. Half of the export of are livestock based3,7.
The livestock based imports are continuously increasing since 4.7 million animals in 2011 to 5.3
million animals in 2015 which injecting more than USD 384 million in the Somalian economy (1).
The various climatic extremes resulted sever losses to livestock, for example 6.4 million animals
died in the drought of 2017 with the economic loss of the USD 350.7 million. Unfortunately, these
losses were very high among poor families as 40-60% losses were North and 20-40% from South
and Central Somalia. Similarly, losses to fisheries have economic worth of USD 10.0 million. The
losses in animals due to extreme weather resulted higher prices of livestock products. Most of
animals in are facing food shortage due to less feed availability as a result of reduced precipitation.
The poor feeding issue makes the livestock sector less productive and very prone to disease attack.
The drought also badly affected the livelihood of about 900,000 households with the loss of USD
875 million of direct income. The herds in Somalia are mainly comprised of sheep, goats, camels
Bayan Research Center of America
Bayan Research Center | | Opinion Article | Climate Change & Livestock
October 23, 2021 4
and cattles. Out of various animal groups, the sheep and goats were most affected by drought
(52%) followed by camels (42%) and cattle (6%). These losses mainly occurred through disease
out breaks, poor feed availability and lack of water. About 60% population drives its income from
pastoralism based livestock production systems9. The disease outbreak may occur due to climate
change and sometime the export is banned due to presence of diseases. For instance, the Saudi
Arabia banned the import of livestock products from Horn of Africa including Somalia due to
prevalence of Rift Valley Fever diseases. This ban had been great challenge for Somalian economy
because of its livestock-based economy.
If rangelands and pastoral system do not remain supportive for livestock due to various effects of
the climatic extremes, then people will migrate the urban or other productive regions, it will create
population imbalance. The conflict may be resulted over water and rangeland, the entry of sand
dunes in the rangeland as a result of strong winds may affect vegetation and floods may destroy
the rangeland productivity due to severe floods. In these circumstances of climate change, the
planting drought tolerant grazing trees, harvesting of rainwater, allocating more land for growing
forage crops and fodder preservation may play pivotal role for strengthening rural economy and
food security. If disease outbreak occurs, it must be shared through using all means of
Bayan Research Center of America
Bayan Research Center | | Opinion Article | Climate Change & Livestock
October 23, 2021 5
communication. It needs urgent steps to be carried out in order to maintain the livestock potential
for national economy and people livelihood.
1. Zerga, B, B. Workineh, D. Teketay and M. Woldetsadik. 2018. Rangeland Degradation
and Rehabilitation Efforts in the Somali National Regional State, Eastern Ethiopia: A
2. UNEP, Nairobi, Kenya,
3. IUCN Eastern Africa Regional Office. (2006). Country Environmental Profile for
Somalia. IUCN, Nairobi.
4. NAPA. 2013. National adaptation programme of action on climate change (NAPA).
Federal Republic of Somalia, Ministry of National Resources.
5. Balint, Z. et al., 2011: Somali Water and Land Resources, FAO-SWALIM Nairobi,
6. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th Assessment Report (IPCC 4AR); 2007:
Working Group Two (WGII): 2007: Coastal zones
7. World Factbook. 2011.
index.html. Accessed December 5, 2011.
8. Federal Government of Somalia. 2016. National Development Plan (2017-2019).
9. Somalia Drought Impact & Needs Assessment, VOLUME I Synthesis Report

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