- Somaliland has a territory that occupies an area of 137,600 km square, virtually eight times bigger than Djibouti, and a coast of around 850 km. Somaliland economy is and has been dependent traditionally on livestock. The country is naturally endowed with pastoral land well-suited to animal rearing. Moreover, Berbera port is the most suitable outlet for exporting livestock not only for Somaliland and Somalia but for entire horn of Africa. Back to Somaliland nomad economy before exposure to outside world namely Arabs and Europeans, Somalilanders were self-sufficient and squarely reliant for their livelihood on livestock and their byproducts.
Somallilanders started to export livestock to Arab countries just in the early years of last century. Some of you may get flabbergasted if I say that some of the merchants who launched the livestock trade are still alive.When it comes to foreign aid, Somalilanders has not been recipient of such thing until very recently. This shows that we had been auto-sufficient before we have opened up to outside world. Despite being nomads with all its associated hardships, we feel nostalgia for the well-balanced environmental ecology that provided us a very proud, independent livelihood for hundreds of years.
On the other hand, I do endorse international trade for its mutual benefit. However, if we closed up to the outside world today just like our forefathers- for argumentative purpose-would you figure out how long could we survive without international trade and foreign aid? Definitely, not so long since we are now far more dependent on others for many things.Nowadays, beside livestock trade and foreign donations, Somaliland is so hugely dependent on money transfer from Europe and North America so much so we can say that the backbone of our economy is remittance rather than livestock.
We receive around US dollars 500 million from Somaliland Diasporas annually. Does livestock trade give us that much? I don’t think so; That is, we have irreversibly plunged into the globalization!.This is the question that arises: is it a virtue to have an economy whose backbone is remittance. It is definitely a sheer vice not virtue simply because the prospective is not bright. Therefore we need change…… that would never come if we don’t plan for it. Plan is for the future and can be drawn by those who have vision……………..pioneers and leaders not by laymen and naive, arrogant, brain washed individuals. All countries that respect themselves or respected by the world have their own policy of national security, of which food security is number one.
Hence, we need to promote livestock rearing but this time in different and more commercial oriented way that would guarantee us food in case of international crisis.In conclusion, we will not be able to reach that goal unless we care and preserve the environment from depletion; that is if we continue burning trees for charcoal or energy as we do now and let floods run in high speed cutting the land and remove the fertile soil along with them, livestock would have no promising future and prospective of food security would be dark.
Abdi Ali Jama (Somaliland)