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Livestock trade in the Kenyan, Somali and Ethiopian borderlands

1 September 2010

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Livestock trade in the Kenyan, Somali and Ethiopian borderlands

The Kenya–Somalia–Ethiopia borderlands constitute a dynamic livestock trading zone that supports the livelihoods of thousands of people. Despite the political turbulence of the last 20 years, the export of animals to feed the growing Kenyan market for meat has expanded and flourished. The trade networks have proved resilient and resourceful in adapting to a host of political challenges, including changing ‘regimes’ in Southern Somalia since state collapse. The overall result has been a shift in direction of the livestock export trade away from the Middle East and towards East Africa, thus building closer economic ties in the region. The livestock trade is more than a commercial operation and has social and political benefits. The cross-border clan relationships that always underpinned the trade are increasingly giving way to multiple clan business enterprises. These involve extensive networks of people and help to build trust and integration among them. The nature of the cross-border trade poses challenges to national and local-level authorities, both in terms of development and revenue collection and for border security management. The key challenge is to find ways to attain safe and secure borders that will also contribute to sustaining and enhancing this valuable trade and its benefits.


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