Somali Livestock Trade: A Menu of Options to Relieve the Current Ban

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© 2017 AU-IBAR/George Matete. Export Livestock Being Fattened. © 2017 AU-IBAR/George Matete. Export Livestock Being Fattened. The trade in livestock and livestock products plays a key role in Somalia’s economic and social development. Its contribution to employment creation, the gross domestic product and export earnings is known. At a household level, the livestock holdings contribute to household resilience and better livelihood by increasing the percentage of their incomes derived from diverse livestock and livestock products and being used to adapt to shocks. It is critical that more Somali livestock traders are educated on the central role they play in livestock certification for export and the adherence to quarantine standard operating procedures. In particular, the owners of the seven livestock export quarantines must cede ground to the public sector and allow them access and control of the livestock inspection, export certification and laboratory testing within the quarantines.

The promotion of trade is one of the facilities that stimulate the export markets. It is one of the opportunities overlooked with the role of government being marginal and that of the private sector over emphasised. However, with increasing trade facilitation adherence to Sanitary and Phytosanitary standards requires attention in order to stimulate growth of exports. Many of the key importing countries are converting the Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary Agreement (SPS) into Technical Barriers in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination and thus restrictive to trade. There is need for the Somali trade regulators to ensure that traders maintain all the measures prescribed by the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) so as to avoid trade restrictions. The existing international agreements recognize that "no country should be prevented from taking measures necessary to ensure the quality of its imports, or for the protection of human, animal or plant life or health, of the environment, or for the prevention of deceptive practices."

Whereas significant and positive strides have been made in implementing vaccination programmes and disease surveillance for trade limiting diseases and border and animal health inspection posts, they have not coalesced in units responsive to the requirements’ of the importing countries called the Overseas Markets Access Requirements (OMARs) or even at the very least the World Animal Health Organisations (OIE) standards stipulated in the Terrestrial animal Health codes on trade requirements’.

Key requirements to drive export trade include

  1. Political will and support that is focused on developing and implementing long-term technical solutions.
  2. Develop a mechanism and modalities for registration of the quarantine stations and to make them operate under government supervision with adherence to World Animal Health Association (OIE) standards and importing country requirements.
  3. Adhere to strict and independent supervision, monitoring and quality control using consistent livestock export certification processes and standard quarantine operating procedures that are independent of control by the owners of the quarantine stations.
  4. Develop, pass and enforce policies, laws and standard operating procedures that guide other governance structures.
  5. Rock solid integrity of the competent authority (public sector) with professionalism, independence and integrity with government commitment to transparent modalities of implementing harmonized export certification and standard quarantine operating procedures that are free from intentional malfunction or sabotage (i.e. secure, tamper proof); The certification system should include at least two steps i.e. (i) movement permit (at production level, primary, secondary and tertiary markets), and (ii) an international veterinary certificate at the export quarantine stations.
  6. Implement a mechanism for transparent sharing of information on disease status, sanitary measures and integrated livestock market information and quarantine stations data backed by regularly implemented evidence-based risk analysis for trade sensitive diseases.
  7. Expeditiously establish a standing technical committee to address issues in the quarantine activities and ensure and monitor that the recommendations herein are implemented.

The role of the private sector remains integral in managing the quarantine stations’ operations including cleaning, feeding and personnel management. Therefore we support public private partnerships.

For the overseas markets, I propose only two solutions

Engagement and communication

  • Engagement with the importing countries on their standards and requirements. The Somali must request their trading partners to ensure that their formalities are less restrictive measures as they engage in trade that is beneficial to all. These include negotiating common customs procedures and uniform documentation requirements.
  • Communication on all the things that the Somali are doing to get a change of level. Regarding this, the right message is better than no message at all. Having correct information as import requirements clearly articulated in import permits would go a long way in making trade smooth and safe.

The European Union funded ESOLT project seeks to ensure that government regulations and processes on the movement of goods are efficient, particularly at the borders, so that the business community can carry out trade transactions at the least cost and time. We recognise the need to build capacity and to effectively participate in trade negotiations and facilitation. This will reduce the impediments to the smooth flow of trade and revert Somalia to its preferred position as a leading source of live animals for export. One of the activities identified for implementation by the project is the development of a handbook and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) manual on export procedures.


The Enhancing Somali Livestock Trade (ESOLT) Project – FED/2014/339-986 – worth 3 million Euro project is a joint initiative of the African Union Interafrican Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) and the European Union (EU). The project is implemented by AU-IBAR in partnership with Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations for the benefit of the people of Somalia.
ESOLT seeks to sustainably promote trade in the export of Somali livestock and livestock products, whilst also ensuring exports of better quality and variety, to reach various regional and international markets in a reliable and consistent way and build their competitiveness. The growth and regulation of livestock trade is also expected to contribute to the resilience of livestock dependent households.

The project is expected to achieve three results, namely:

  • R1. Competiveness of Somali livestock in international markets enhanced.
  • R2. Compliance to market requirements for trade in livestock commodities improved.
  • R3. Governance of Somali livestock value chains improved.