Camel Leasing in Somalia: Phase I Research
In early 2020, the Feed the Future Somalia Camel Leasing to Impact Resilience Activity completed the first phase of its two-year study exploring how camel leasing in Somalia may impact household resilience. This first of three phases has provided the RTI International-led research team with valuable insights into the origins of camel leasing and some potential implications of the practice on pastoralist households and their communities.
Phase I focused retrospectively on the genesis and early stages of formalized camel leasing practices and incorporated a desk review, key informant interviews, and focus groups, as well as a mapping exercise to identify and locate camel milk dairies and pastoralists engaged in the practice.
Among many interesting preliminary findings, we saw that the 2016/2017 drought in Somalia was a major contributor to camel leasing and that some local communities feel that camel leasing can help mitigate the loss of valuable livestock assets, provide income to reinvest in livestock, and cover household needs. Not surprisingly, trust plays a major role in whether pastoralists decide to enter into a leasing arrangement, and word of mouth from friends, relatives, and neighbors, as well as the ability to witness the practice, are two of the strongest factors that seem to influence the uptake of camel leasing among pastoralist communities.
Interestingly, some respondents and interviewees raised concerns about camel leasing, including the potential for more restricted diets and exercise for camels housed in dairies; potential land tenure tensions as dairies expand and grazing corridors become more limited; and the effect of camel leasing and dairies on the price of camel milk in rural areas as dairies continue to expand into the camel milk market. In this preliminary research, clan dynamics appeared to play no significant role in determining whether leases would be established or with whom.
Over the next several months, we’ll be sharing information gathered from our planned household surveys, additional focus group discussions, and case studies of dairy companies and pastoralists.