Livestock trade has remained a key economic activity in northern Somalia with Somaliland exporting live animals to the Arabian Peninsula for centuries. However, many constraints to the livestock export trade emerged following the fall of the Somali central government in 1991. Based on in-depth interviews and participant observations, our findings show that unlike the regional (Horn of Africa) trade operations, Somaliland’s livestock exports overseas have to meet strict health requirements and consumer expectations. The existing informal institutions are not able to enforce the livestock export health requirements. State institutions and international livestock trade and health regulatory bodies are important in enforcing such health standards and sanitary requirements, which does not exist in Somaliland. The lack of recognition of Somaliland Government has limited the role of the State to directly control trade and export of livestock, immensely contributing to the constraints facing livestock export. Somaliland’s biggest livestock export trade partner has been Saudi Arabia, however, there is no formal trade relationship between the two countries. The present livestock export arrangement is based on private trade relations between Somaliland and Saudi traders. Privatization of the animal export operations was done to help in this situation, however, it did not give a lasting solution to the constraints faced by Somaliland’s livestock export. Instead, privatization introduced new constraints.
Date of publication:
RUFORUM Working document series