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Somaliland Livestock Laws

 Somaliland Livestock Husbandry & Export Laws

Livestock husbandry and export has always been the backbone of the Somaliland economy.  Sheep, goats, camels and cattle are reared in Somaliland primarily through a pastoral system. The main market for Somaliland livestock export is Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.  Periodic import bans in these countries has seriously affected this trade, the longest of which imposed by Saudi Arabia last nine years until the end of 2009 - (see, for example, this early USAID study on the impact of the livestock export ban on Somaliland). 

The introduction in 2008 of the Somaliland Veterinary Code – Law No. 34 /2006 & 2008 provided a regulatory framework which meets international standards and particularly those of the OIE – Office Internazionale des Epizootique (World Organisation for Animal Health) –  Codes and Standards. The  Somaliland Ministry of Livestock started implementing the Somaliland Veterinary Code in its draft form (the bill was in preparation since 1997).  Here is an English language copy of the Somaliland Veterinary Code [English] prepared by the Somaliland Ministry of Livestock.

    Controversy about the passage of the Code: The Somaliland Veterinary Code, like other laws passed by both Houses of Parliament, was passed on to the President for signature.  The Law which was originally passed by the House of Representatives in 2006 was finally returned to the House of Representatives by the President who proposed further changes to Article 5.1.2(b) of the Law.  On 15 March 2008, the House considered the President’s proposal and rejected it on a vote of 20 against, 17 for and 8 abstaining.  This meant that under Article 78(4) of the Constitution, the bill shall lapse, since the President and the House has failed to agree to the proposed changes.  If the House rejection vote was on a two thirds majority,  rather than on the simple majority of 20 votes versus 17, then the President would have had no choice but to accept the Bill in the form that it was passed by both Houses, and without  his proposed change.  In the event, the House Resolution Resolution (ref: GW/KF-6/420/2008 dated 15 March 2008 – which is attached to the Law – see above)  noted the vote but stated (incorrectly in my view) that the Law as proposed by the President has been approved because the House did not muster a two thirds majority to reject the President’s proposal.  The President then passed the Law by a decree (No. 338/042008) dated 08 April 2008 (attached to the Law – see above). The Decree noted that the House resolved to accept to pass the President’s proposed changes relating to Article 5.1.2(b) of the Law.  The Decree then confirms that the President has passed and implemented the article in dispute (Article 5.1.2(b)).  Although it is not clear from the Decree, as none of the other Articles were disapproved of by the President, this presumably meant that the whole Law was then promulgated and came into force from that date in line with Article 7.3 of the Law.  The President has no power, under the Somaliland Constitution to approve and implement selectively some of the provisions of a Law (known as line item approval).   This point about the defect in the House Resolution was raised by Representative Ali Mohamed Adan (Ali –Barre) in a press conference on 17 March 2008, but no further action appears to have been taken about this issue. urges the House to revisit this matter. The passage of this Law has been controversial and such an ostensible defect in the procedures has serious implications for the implementation of the Law. also urges the House to look more carefully at the provisions of Articles 75, 77 and 78 of the Constitution and the deadline for presidential approval or rejection of bills passed by both Houses and to be much more strident in promulgating under its own authority (Article 77(6)) bills which the President has failed to either to sign or refer back to the House within the 21 days period set out in Article 75.  - Editor

The first veterinary department in Somaliland was established in 1924.  Since 1991,  the Ministry of Livestock is responsible for the overall  regulation of the veterinary services, but aspects of livestock husbandry also fall within the purview of the Ministry of Rural Affairs and the Ministry for Agriculture.  On trade and export of livestock, the various Ministries’ roles are broadly as follows:

  • Ministry of Livestock -  Co-ordination of animal health and husbandry in the country through the development of relevant supportive policy and regulations.  Currently provides:
    • Certification of livestock health for export animals.
    • Provision of livestock movement permits.
    • Vessel certification for export animals.
    •   Advice on management of rangelands
  • Ministry of Finance – Revenue collection and national budgeting. Collects customs duty at the port.
  • Ministry of Commerce -  Focal point for policy and guidelines in reference to all rules and regulations on commercial and industrial issues in Somaliland.  Currently:
    • Assists in searching for potential markets in consultation with other ministries.
    • Promotes of Somaliland livestock interests.
    • Maintains livestock export statistics.
    • Licenses traders.

        (Source: IRLI (2008) A Rapid Appraisal of Institutions Supporting Somali Livestock Export, Discussion Paper No.14)

Meat Products:

  • Somaliland Meat Law (this Law has not been passed by the Parliament, but it is apparently in use pending its submission to and approval the Parliament. 

Regulations & Decrees:

  • Regulations for the Somaliland National Veterinary Board - The Board  is a statutory body set up under Article 5.3.1 of the Veterinary Code and deals with the qualifications, standards and registration of veterinary practitioners.
  • The Ministry of Livestock issued on 26 February 2000 a Ministerial Decree regulating the import and sale of animal medicines.

Livestock Policies:

Livestock Quarantine and Inspection Centre:

The Code and the establishment of a Livestock Quarantine and Inspection Centre funded by a Saudi businessman at Berbera in Somaliland have been instrumental in the recent lifting of the livestock export ban to Saudi Arabia. The process of the establishment of the Inspection Centre has been extremely controversial because of its alleged monopolistic nature and the lack of transparency in the decision making and in the contract the government entered into with the foreign businessman. In a 2009 study (about the Somali region), David K Leonard notes that:

    There are a number of areas, particularly in livestock exports, where public goods in the form of internationally-recognised disease control and inspection are needed for the next stages in economic development, and traders do not find it easy to enforce collective action on one another without some kind of state-like authority. Even the proto-state political systems of Puntland and Somaliland have a difficult time when they do attempt to enforce regulations on this group. The strongest pressures on them to do so are coming from the competition of another Somali system – Djibouti – which now has a livestock inspection system that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (with its vastly profitable market for goats for the haj) now recognises.” (IDS Working Paper 316, January 2009)

The Somaliland House of Representatives passed a Resolution (No 436 of 29 July 2008) in which it reaffirmed the constitutional principle of free enterprise (Article 11 of the Constitution), asked that all international agreements entered into should submitted to the House under Article 53 of the Constitution and set up an Ad hoc Committee to follow up this matter.

For an article that examines in detail the advantages of the agreement for setting up the Berbera Inspection Centre, please see Isse M (2008) Somaliland livestock exports, the Saudi businessman and the Somaliland (

(No copies of the agreement between the Somaliland Government and the Businessman is available so far.  The Somalian websites published in 2008 a draft agreement purported to be the one for the similar Livestock Examination Centre established at Bosaso in neighbouring Puntland region of Somalia - see this link at Garoweonline  ( neither endorses the veracity of these documents, nor makes any assertions about their similarity or otherwise to the Berbera agreement).

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