Taleh Travel Guide

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Taleh has a relatively strong economic base, which depends primarily on livestock sector. Other mainstays of the local economy are remittances (for better off and middle classes) from the diaspora community and the transport sector, supported by a good road network which links the town to Berbera and Bosaso ports as well as central Somalia. Moreover, the substantial cross border trade between Puntland and the neighboring Zone Five in Ethiopia passes through Taleh, which makes it a growing commercial hub.

Even though there is no strong baseline at household level showing the relative importance of various income sources among households according to different wealth group, the livestock sector is believed to be the most important source of income for most households. During a rapid assessment on June 7-8 and interviews with local elders and key informants, FEWS NET and FSAU found that 50-60% of the urban population derives a substantial amount of their income from the livestock sector, directly or indirectly, in a normal year -- defined as 1996.

Most households in town own livestock, mainly shoats and some camels, which are kept by their kin or family members in the countryside. Thus, a significant number of the population, especially the middle wealth and better off groups, has continuous and unlimited access to livestock and livestock products in a normal year. Overall, urban household food and income is closely linked to pastoral production and therefore drought in the pastoral areas has more far reaching implications on the urbanites in Taleh than one would otherwise expect.

Taleh is also the commercial link between Zone Five of Ethiopia, Puntland and central Ethiopia as well as the major livestock market in Burao and Lasanod. Many households, therefore, engage in livestock trade. It is this trade and associated service sector that provides an additional important employment opportunities for poor households.

However, the ban on imports of Somali livestock ban by Somalia's trade partners in the Arabian Peninsula since September 2000 has seriously damaged the livestock trade and related employment opportunities. Moreover, successive droughts in Sool and Hawd Plateaus weakened livestock and reduced their marketability. This has hurt market activities and employment opportunities for poor urban households.

Nowadays, poor and very poor households in Taleh, representing 20-25% of the population and owning fewer animals of their own, receive the bulk of their food and income from sources other than owns livestock or the livestock trade. Construction, small business, and petty trade are the most important employers for lower income households.

FEWS NET, FSAU and local health workers found that self- employment activities generate up to half (45-50%) of poor household income in a normal year. Important self-employment activities include street vendoring, operating teashops, collecting and selling firewood, milk retailing and collecting and selling sand and rocks for construction. The second important income source is paid employment, which contributes 30- 35% of annual poor household income. Paid employment includes construction, pottering, and employment on small horticultural farms, delivery and sale of water by donkey cart, and selling khat on behalf of khat distributors. Income from sale of livestock and livestock products provide 15-20% of poor households' annual income, while gifts and social support provides about 5% of their annual income.

On the expenditure side, poor households spend 60-70% of their annual income on staple foods. In addition to local cereals, rice and wheat flour are the main staple foods consumed by poor households in a normal year. However, prices of locally produced cereals like sorghum and maize always remain high due to high transportation cost from the south. In most cases, households prefer imported rice and wheat flour to local cereals. Poor households also spend 15-20% of their annual income on non-staple food purchase, such as sugar, meat and, edible oil. Households spend 10-15% of their annual income on non-food essentials, such as house rent, clothing, kerosene and firewood.

Poor household income options are not easily expandable (when households can expand some sources of income to offset a decrease in another sources of income). Hence, their normal expenditure patterns leave them no extra income to cater for health care or clean water, making them vulnerable to water borne diseases. Moreover, price of potable water has been increasing since 1994

 LIBAN ALI

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