LIVESTOCK FOR LIVELIHOODS: Increasing Household Income for Pastoralists in Gedo Somalia

Sahara Adan having her goat treated in Deka village Gedo

Deka Village, Elwak district in Gedo Somalia has been the home of 38-year-old Sahara Adan Dhicis for the past 8 years. A widow and the sole breadwinner for her 8 children, Sahara relies on her small herd as the only source of income for her household. For residents of Deka village, wealth has always been measured by the size of one’s herd, their livestock is a crucial source of food (milk) and a mobile bank that can be converted into cash for health expenses, school fees, etc.

A herd of goats in Deka village

For years drought and animal ailments have been the worst mishaps that could manifest to this community. “It was so distressing, watching as our animals die and there was nothing we could do about the diseases. We could barely get any milk for the children,“ Sahara reflects. Diseases not only claimed the lives of animals but also undermined their productivity, resulting in less milk and meat and also lowering their market prices.

“When our livestock got sick we would give them medicine by guessing the diseases they were suffering from and most times it would worsen the condition because we would give them wrong treatment or misuse the drug quantity, “Says Sahara

Lack of animal health services in the region has crippled the efforts of increasing productivity of pastoralists livestock and more so for the vulnerable households such as IDPs. To intervene in this dire situation,  NAPAD together with the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) and Medico International has trained and equipped 15 Community Health Workers with skills to diagnose and treat livestock diseases. The project seeks to reduce livestock morbidity, thereby improving productivity for household consumption and household income. This intervention has seen 450 households being provided with veterinary care of 28,000 animals.

Animal treatment activity with trained Community Health Workers

My children now drink more milk.

Sahara adan

“My animals were treated during the free treatment drive in our village. The animals were given treatment for worms, pneumonia, and parasites. Our animals are now healthy and thriving despite it being the rainy season when diseases are quite rampant. My children now drink more milk,” says a beaming Sahara. “I thank NAPAD for the support they have given our community”.


As one traverses Abduwak district, one cannot help but notice its vast plain lands with spacey grasslands and shrubs doted by hundreds of livestock; camels, cows, donkeys sheep and goats. Recurrent drought in the pasts five years with subsequent deterioration of pastures and prevalence of livestock diseases resulted to loss of thousands of livestock severely affecting the livelihoods of the pastoralist communities in the district.  Competition for scarce resources has led sporadic clan conflicts that have exacerbated the vulnerability of the residents.

Abdul is one of the residents of the district who lost hundreds of livestock during the 2017/2018 famine. Whilst remarkably resilient, Abdul has a sense of loss;

“My sheep and Goats died from a strange disease and drought. I only remained with 30 animals which could barely produce any milk.I was unable to sell them at the market,” Says Abdul.

Abdul holds up his sheep to receive a vaccine.

Abdul like many other residents of the district rely entirely on the livestock for their livelihood. With the loss of over 80% of their stock and reduced market prices the pastoralist can hardly feed their families. The communities are spending all their income on food, water and other non-food essentials. This leaves barely any income left for treatment and care of their livestock. Families in this area are already bearing the brunt of the negative economic impact, a fact reflected in the high levels of household indebtedness which is also severely constraining food access. Continuous support of pastoralist households must build resilience against climate-related shocks by providing timely veterinary and feeding assistance for their animals.

 “For years I have struggled to feed the ten members of my family from the meagre income I earned from my small herd. Without technical skills or training, I was ill-equipped to grow the herd or improve their health to fetch better prices in the market, no matter how badly I wanted to improve my livestock production capacity.” Abdul narrates.

NAPAD in partnership with Medico International through funding from German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO), supported the treatment of over 20, 800 animals for 2200 households in four remote villages in the district.  Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) were identified and received a pre-treatment refresher training from the NAPAD Animal Health Officer. The 5-day training covered all relevant topics on symptoms of diseases, treatment, handling of animals. The trained CAHWs together with NAPAD animal health officer treated and dewormed ailing animals from the vulnerable households.  Common diseases treated include sheep and goat pox (SGP) and Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD). The CAWH also instructed livestock owners on good livestock production practices such as hoof trimming, regular deworming with the intent to improve animal productivity. 

NAPAD’s Animal health Officer during the vaccination and treatment drive.

My livestock now produce additional litres of milk compared to production amounts before the program. Increased production has allowed me to provide milk for my children and also sell the extra milk and use the money for food, health services, and school fees.” Says Abdul

Building Resilience: Pastoralists Bearing Fruit In Agriculture

Mandera, Kenya. Noor Haji Mohamud stands tall in his farm in Aresa Village, Mandera East Constituency. Enveloping him are green stalks of sudan grass trying to compete with his height. Clutching his walking stick, the father of 10 combs through the community land proudly assessing the flourishing plants of his farmers’ group.

Noor, a pastoralist has always dreamt of venturing into farming as an alternative income generating activity, but had no idea where to start. Life as pastoralist became unreliable due to erratic changes in weather patterns for the last decade, and it is during the drought period that he decided to embrace life as an agropastoralist.

“We had to find alternative ways to survive and the only option was venturing into farming”

Noor Haji Mohamud
Farmers like Noor plant sudan grass as pasture for their livestock

“The drought had become part and parcel of our pastoral life every year. Our livestock were dying in large numbers every drought season and we are now left with only few of them. If the drought had persisted, then we would be left with nothing for sure. We had to find alternative ways to survive and the only option was venturing into farming,’’ asserts Noor.

Due to recurrent drought periods in the Northern region of Kenya, the pastoral communities who make over 90% of the populace experience contraction of economy and loss of livelihoods. In 2018, Noor was one of the beneficiaries for a livelihood project by Nomadic Assistance for Peace and Development (NAPAD) funded by terre de hommes and BMZ which harnessed water from a nearby river for farming purposes.

Through the project dubbed Building Resilience at Community Level, a community-owned farm in Aresa Village along River Daua was put to use to encourage 50 farmers to increase their food and fodder production. The farm located on higher grounds from the river shields the farmers from floods which have been wreaking havoc every rainy season.

The farmers working in groups grow crops for subsistence and commercial use. Noor, with his group grows sudan grass, sun flower, watermelon, tomatoes, Sim Sim, maize and beans.

“With the help of NAPAD, we managed to prepare the land for farming by tilling, ploughing, fencing and planting…”

Noor holding a sunflower stalk from his farm he co-shares with his farmers’ group

”I was one of the 50 pastoralists who were chosen by NAPAD. We identified the land which we as the community would use. It was barren and idle land located 1KM from the river. With the help of NAPAD, we managed to prepare the land for farming by tilling, ploughing, fencing and planting,” explains Noor with smile.

NAPAD also provided farm inputs and seedlings to the farmers, held farmers’ field days and trainings for the farmers and Training of Trainers (TOT) on tree nursery and agroforestry management.

Training of TOTs on Agriculture on climate smart agriculture and best practices

”I was first trained on how to go about the farming since I knew nothing about farming. We were later given various crop seedlings such as maize, watermelon, tomatoes, sun flower, Sorghum, Simsim and many others to plant,” says Noor.

One of the farmers in Noor’s group harvesting sunflower

NAPAD also installed a Solar Panel which enables the farmers to pump water from the river to the farm for irrigation throughout without any cost or constraints. In addition the farmers received additional Diesel engines as alternative energy in case of weather changes.

Sunflower is growing in popularity in the region due to its oil-rich nature and lucrativeness

After months of hard work and constant struggle, Noor and his farmer’s group are now reaping the fruits of their labour. They are now making their first harvest after a spun of seven months, transporting trucks full of various varieties crops to the market enabling Noor to provide for his family.