FAO in Somalia

A glimmer of hope for the displaced during Eid as FAO conducts pilot destocking activity in Southern Somalia


The drought in Somalia has had a devastating impact on the lives of many rural pastoral communities dependent on livestock as their main source of livelihood. Extreme drought, compounded with animal diseases, has killed around 3 million livestock and left others weak and emaciated, contributing to the displacement of thousands of families who have moved to urban centres in search of humanitarian assistance.

Nuneey Wardere, 45, was one such pastoralist whose life was uprooted by drought. From Kusow village in the Lower Juba region, Nuneey watched her animals die one by one from drought related disease, and after four failed rainy seasons she was left with few options to remain when the village’s main water source dried up. With her family, she left her village behind and set up a small shelter on the outskirts of Buulagudud village in Kismayu while waiting for assistance. “I have been a farmer my whole life, but all that is gone,” she said.

As part of its emergency drought response, FAO with the support of the United Kingdom Government organised a pilot slaughter destocking activity in Buulagudud and Luglow, in Kismayo district. Part of the “Emergency Support to Severely Drought Affected Rural Populations” project, the pilot activity aimed at increasing immediate access to food, to reduce the loss of livestock due to the severe scarcity of pasture and water, and to inject cash to support livestock trade activities among pastoralists who still have viable herds.

Nuneey’s family were one of the 600 households in the targeted communities that participated during Eid celebrations. In the activity, 300 households received cash in exchange for 300 healthy male animals, which they could then use to provide for their family’s needs during the drought. The animals were then inspected and slaughtered with their meat being distributed to 300 destitute and displaced families like Nuneey’s for Eid. The pilot activity aimed to increase immediate access to food for displaced families, to reduce the loss of livestock due to the severe scarcity of pasture and water, and to inject cash to support livestock trade activities among pastoralists.

“For the Eid I was among the vulnerable families who were given a goat each and I happily shared the meat with my neighbours,” said Nuneey. “I’ve never participated in such and activity. It was wonderful and it made me feel like we had a real Eid celebration,” she said.

“It was a good initiative because it was beneficial for everyone”

As funding becomes available, FAO is scaling up humanitarian assistance in hard hit rural areas to save lives and livelihoods. “Pastoralist communities have been negatively affected by poor rains experienced during the last four consecutive rain seasons. Drought conditions have worsened, and the situation is critical in most parts of Somalia. Pastoralists are selling their livestock including breeding stocks at low prices to buy water and food, which undermines recovery from drought. All of this has had a severe impact on the health, food security, nutrition and livelihoods of these households,” said FAO Representative Etienne Peterschmitt.

Deeq Mursal Daud, a farmer and livestock owner from nearby Luglow village was also affected by the drought. The 53-year-old hasn’t been able to produce food on his farm and worked casual jobs here and there to make ends meet.

“It’s really tough for the people here in the village. When the drought hit, all the basic amenities we needed became scarce, especially water,” said Deeq. He added that he had been selling livestock to pay for their needs, but with the drought, even the price of a sheep or goat could not cover the cost of their family’s increasing needs.

Deeq’s family was one of the 300 beneficiary households that received a cash transfer through the slaughter destocking activity during Eid, which was also intended to coincide with the lean season. In South and Central Somalia, FAO conducted market assessments to inform livestock prices, and pre-mortem examinations to assess the health of livestock.

“I was among those approached to sell their goats to FAO during Eid, and I was able to use that money I received to buy essential items for my family”, said Deeq. “It was a good initiative because it’s beneficial for everyone. The vulnerable were given meat to celebrate and others were able to sell their livestock at a fair price, allowing them to have cash for basic needs,” he said.

As a part of the activity, FAO also conducting trainings on the slaughter destocking approach, focusing on the appropriate sale and consumption of weak but otherwise healthy goats and sheep. It’s hoped that future initiatives like the one in Kismayu can contribute to the improving of nutrition among malnourished children and also the food security status of vulnerable households, while maintaining breeding stocks at manageable levels throughout periods of drought.

As part of this UK funded project, people like Nuneey and Deeq received the support they needed through FAO, which continues its work to reach drought affected rural communities in Somalia with lifesaving and livelihood protecting assistance.