Somalia Moves Adaptation Strategies for its Livestock and Fisheries Sectors Forward

Vulnerability assessments and monitoring, evaluation, and learning frameworks were validated as part of the Somali NAP process

Pastoralists release their livestock from their enclosure to graze at a farm near Badham, Somalia, on 28 September 2021.


FAO provides emergency support and training programmes to local communities in Somalia affected by drought.


Photo credits must be given to: ©FAO/Arete/Isak Amin.
Pastoralists release their livestock from their enclosure to graze at a farm near Badham, Somalia: Raising livestock is the main livelihood for 65% of the population, accounts for 80% of the country’s exports, and represents 45% of the national GDP. (Photo: ©FAO/Arete/Isak Amin)

Livestock and fisheries sectors are pivotal in Somalia’s economy and food security. Both sectors are severely threatened by climate change impacts, which can also undermine the country’s peacebuilding efforts. With support from the NAP Global Network’s In-country Support Program, Somalia achieved an important milestone in its National Adaptation Plan (NAP) process by validating a national-level vulnerability assessment (VA) and a monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) framework for both fisheries and livestock sectors.

According to the University of Notre Dame’s Country Ranking on vulnerability, Somalia is the second most vulnerable country in the world to climate change. Its vulnerability is predicated on a unique combination of environmental, social, and economic factors, including high levels of poverty, conflict, and displacement, as well as limited access to resources and services. The country has been increasingly affected by extreme and frequent droughts, floods, and desert locusts.

The validation workshop for the livestock sector vulnerability assessment and MEL framework took place in Mogadishu on March 18, 2023, and gathered government, private sector, academia, and civil society representatives. The sector is crucial for the Somali economy: it is the main livelihood for 65% of the population, accounts for 80% of the country’s exports, and represents 45% of the national GDP. In recent years, the Somali livestock sector has been challenged by droughts, declining pasture and water resources, and increased disease outbreaks.

The vulnerability assessment—comprised of a literature review and qualitative and quantitative data collection, including interviews with key national stakeholders—identified drought and famine as the main threats to the livestock sector. The severity of recent droughts has affected the availability of water and grazing land for livestock, leading to decreased productivity and increased death rates, causing widespread famine and food insecurity, as well as soaring internal displacement and migration—two primary sources of conflicts.

“These effects [of climate change] harm animal health and value, which means no one will buy them for export. As a result, animal herders are forced to become internally displaced people (IDPs) because they have lost their livelihoods,” said Adan Hussein Derrow, Director of Animal Production at the Ministry of Livestock.

Fisheries sector

Fishers trading on a beach in Mogadishu: artisanal fishing employs some 30,000 people full time and 60,000 part time. (Photo: Mohamad Osman | Impact Images | IISD)

There are 50 fishing villages and towns along Somalia’s 3,333 km coastline—the longest in continental Africa. The country’s fisheries sector contributes to around 2% of Somalia’s GDP and is predominantly small scale, employing around 30,000 people full time, 60,000 part time, and 500,000 in ancillary activities. The industry is highly impacted by climate change—for example, through increasing sea temperatures, sea level rise, coastal inundation and erosion, storms, drought, and acidification.

In addition, the sector suffers from poor management and governance, which results in the overexploitation of fish stocks and frequent illegal fishing by external actors. Validated on March 19, 2023, the fisheries sector vulnerability assessment draws on extensive data and analysis, as well as consultations with key stakeholders, including government ministries at both the federal and member state levels and development organizations incorporating climate change into their programs.

The assessment revealed that climate change impacts have resulted in declining fish stocks, changes in species’ migration patterns, and increased competition for resources, with significant consequences for the livelihoods of those dependent on the sector and Somalia’s overall food security.

“Due to the effects of climate change, the country’s fishing production has declined immensely. There is uncertainty about fishing times, and fishing seasons are no longer predictable. For example, you often see a fishing boat go out to sea and experience extreme weather events that have never happened before or been predicted. Solutions to these problems could include the establishment of co-management and cooperation in the fishing sector to reduce the effect of climate change caused by humans,” said Geni Abdulahi Hassan from the Ministry of Fishery and Marine Resources of the Jubaland State.

Opportunities for enhancing the resilience of the fisheries sector were also identified by the vulnerability assessment, including improved governance and management of the sector, robust regulatory systems, investments in infrastructure and technology, and support for developing alternative livelihoods.

Funded by Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs, the Somali in-country program demonstrates some of the possibilities for aligning the medium- to long-term planning for peacebuilding and climate change adaptation agendas. For example, many of the recommendations are paired with advice to implement adaptation and disperse resources equitably between groups to build trust and avoid exacerbating conflict. Our upcoming guidance on NAPs, Peacebuilding and Conflict will provide more detailed strategies on how to build peace through the NAP process, including additional examples from Somalia.

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