This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Hope is four-legged and woolly
Salvation for the world’s most utterly failed state depends more on private enterprise than international aid
Oct 15th 2011 | BERBERA AND BOSSASO | from the print edition
WHERE there are beasts, there is life, goes a saying in Somalia. Half of its people depend on livestock for their survival. This year they will export record numbers of animals. That seems improbable given that a famine is raging in south Somalia, which has seen over a million animals die of hunger and thirst. But the grazing in other parts of Somalia, especially the north, has been excellent and demand for livestock from abroad has never been higher. After banning Somali sheep and goats for many years, for allegedly being diseased, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia has once again declared them welcome. For the first time since the collapse of Somalia as a unitary state in 1991, Saudi and Lebanese traders have ventured into the local livestock markets. Goats are mainly exported to Mecca for the annual haj pilgrimage. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that $250m-worth of animals will leave the port of Berbera and its more ramshackle rival, Bossaso, in the seven weeks before the haj in early November. In this section
»Hope is four-legged and woolly Mo money A Swedish October surprise An extraordinary exchange rate Uncomfortably polarised
buthalal butchers value the quality of Somali animals. Mr Deria nods to show that the price is fixed. “I will buy 800.” he says. Trade is set to grow further. sweaty goatherds press in on Adan Ahmed Deria. encourage communities to cure animal skins. in a country where the economy has apparently collapsed. Last month pirates captured a livestock ship in the waters off Bossaso. a trader. “God willing. capital of the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland. . which are raised by nomadic Muslims. Hundreds of camels are being loaded onto lorries. With about $50m in international help they could invest in watering stations. make soap from bone marrow and fashion buttons from camel bone. in cash. China and Paraguay. Lost in translation Reprints Related topics Africa Ethiopia African Union Mogadishu Somalia In the livestock market in Hargeisa. They might also usefully improve transport by. Somalis have hardly begun to tap the value of their animals. which would cut out rapacious middlemen. say. The herders face fierce competition from Georgia. building bridges over rivers prone to flooding. it mainly affects international shipping rather than locals. Saudi Arabia wants to double its livestock imports from Somalia by 2013. Though the region suffers from rampant piracy.” That is $52m of business.000 goats and sheep this year.
They have been kicked out of Mogadishu.they were killed within hours by irate traders and herders. Recovery will be a struggle. entitled “F--. Somalis increasingly look to the diaspora for loans. Meanwhile. Forecasts for the coming rains are promising. The family’s goats died of hunger. but only those loyal to their cause are allowed to attend. Most were students queuing up for scholarships to Turkey. which controls large parts of the south.000 people may already have died as a result of the famine. whip the men to prayers. In Somalia famine results from the strictures imposed by the al-Qaeda-linked Shabab militia. Showers have already arrived in some places. On October 4th they arranged a suicide bombing in Mogadishu which killed over 100 people. he says he will not return home until the Shabab have gone. Ahmed Mohammed. force the women to cover their faces. More are certain to follow them to the grave. Echoing the suggestion that the famine is at least in part man-made. emphasises that famines are manmade. UN figures yet to be published suggest that 80. is typical. An American celebrity campaign. A drought has strained the entire region. and violently break up any gathering of four or more people.” The target of the bombing was education—hope itself—but also the Transitional Federal Government. Its members are prominent in gold and metal markets across Africa. According to Somali aid workers from the hungriest areas.famine”. He fears his children might suffer the same fate. As parts of the economy grow. a teenager. as would frankincense cultivation. Abdiweli . but they have lost a lot of ground and support. ban singing. The village school is run by the Shabab. He fled his village of Bulamerer on the Shabelle river along with his heavily pregnant wife and one of their children. recorded an interview before the attack in which he said of the victims. hijacked foreign freighters litter the coastline undisturbed. The once thriving fishing industry would be helped by investment in refrigerators. but apocalypse looks less likely now. They left two other children behind in the village with Mr Mohammed’s mother and his teenage brothers and sisters. Mr Mohammed claims he and others were denied access to river water for their crops. None of this is to deny that the situation in south Somalia—the country’s breadbasket—is anything other than dire. That is unhelpfully vague but not necessarily wrong. the Shabab have taken actions as desperate as they are deadly. “They never think about the hereafter and about harassed Muslims. by African Union (AU) troops paid by America and the European Union. The bomber. The fighters take a third of the harvest as taxation. The prime minister. Still. Now on the defensive. a breakaway region in the north. It is supported by the AU troops in the capital. the situation is bad but improving. The Shabab are not yet defeated. The story of a 23-year-old farmer. But Kenya and Ethiopia have dealt with it much better than the ignorant and petty Shabab. which employs 10% of the workers in Puntland. Many excel at moving goods and money around. Somalia’s ruined seaside capital.
Last year. Puntland used to catch 2. donor countries say the government is the best bet to run the country. Publicly. or $160m a year. as in video games. it has a maturing government and four successful elections behind it. Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. Or pillage it: “Where there is money.” says Abdiwahid Hersi. Ethiopia might agree.Mohamed Ali. It needs a stable Somaliland to pipe gas from a newly found field in the east to the coast. the catch was only 167 tonnes. a research and lobby group. while the south is mired in famine. Despite a dependency on qat. wants to finish off the Shabab and has said “this is the time to intervene” and that the “cowards” should not be allowed to regroup.000 to 1m people since 1991. Devolving power to towns and clans— the linchpin of Somali society—would be better. But predatory fishing practices have destroyed stocks. to control affairs i n their homeland remotely. they lambast it. Bossaso has grown from 50. The non-Shabab parts of Somalia have every chance of seeing strong economic growth. Could they be paid to clear out pirate dens and save the spiny lobster? Somalis laugh at the thought. . Next year. Yet often the money comes with strings attached. But with what? The International Crisis Group. the spiny lobster may be gone forever. one conclusion is inescapable. Somali elders talk of free spirited nomads “vomiting up” orders made far away. based on Mogadishu. is almost certain to fail”. South Somalia has several separatist groups and Puntland has at least three separatist insurgencies which result in almost daily assassinations of officials and an indefinite delay in potentially lucrative oil exploration. to nobody’s satisfaction. Mogadishu will only ever be the capital in name. argues that a “European style centralised state. the director of Puntland fisheries. there is funny. which accounts for a third of imports. Some benefactors engage in what is known as “PlayStation politics” in which they attempt. The Somalia of the past is gone. But that too is risky. Even though it may slowly be freed from extremist control. Venal and inept. But with north Somalia recovering somewhat. Privately. The southern breadbasket has fallen too far behind. The diaspora remits $1 billion or so a year. That could finance badly needed investments.000 tonnes of these each year. An offensive led by the AU and transitional government troops this week hammered Shabab positions on the edge of Mogadishu. The best hope for the south is that some of the dynamism spreads. a mild stimulant imported from Ethiopia. With it goes another chance for a better life in coastal communities tempted by piracy. The country’s economic centre of gravity has shifted to the Arab-facing north. Somaliland in the far north is different again. Take the spiny lobster. Many Western diplomats now think it deserves full independence. has extended his mandate by delaying elections to next year. Further economic growth in northern Somalia is dependant on law enforcement—an unlikely prospect. his government surely needs to be replaced. A group of mercenaries is suspected of having landed a shipment of arms and equipment at Bossaso this month. Hargeisa has expanded even faster. the lacklustre president.
from the print edition | Middle East and Africa .
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.