Sahil Regional Background

Sahil is the youngest and smallest region in Somaliland and has six districts, namely: Berbera, Sheikh, Mandera, Bulahar, Go'da Wayn and Hagal Districts. The region has an estimated population of about 140-160,000 (4% of the total registered voters and 4% of the population which is about 3.5 -4 million). Berbera and Sheikh are most populated districts, with almost half of the region's population. Berbera is the capital of the region and main port of Somaliland.

Sahil region is Somaliland’s gateway to the Red Sea trading routes. The region has a unique relief ranging from sea level coastal plains to the Highest Peaks of the Golis range with Wagar and Sheikh reaching more than 2000 m above sea level. The sharp gradient from the highlands to the cost that causes flash floods to go out to sea during the rainy season poses great challenges to large scale agriculture production in the absence of reservoirs and dams to reduce speed and harvest water.

There are two main ecological systems in Sahil, namely the coastal (Guban) and the mountainous belts (Oogo). There are significant variations in the weather patterns of these ecological zones leading to movements of population within the region in some periods of the region. The coastal belt is usually cold between the months of November and January while May to September is normally characterized by adverse hot and windy weather conditions. Thus, there is normally population movement from the coastal belt to cool mountainous areas in May and return in August. The mainstay of population economy is livestock rearing, small scale fishing and business entrepreneurship related to the Port of Berbera. There is a limited number of irrigation farming for producing fruits and vegetables.


Berbera Port, which is the main port in the region, handles almost all the imports as well as exports of the country. Through the Port over three million heads of livestock are exported annually to the Middle East. The port is, hence, a major source of revenue for the government. Berbera continues to attract a large number of populations not only from the region but also from different parts of Somaliland largely in search of employment opportunities at the port. Berbera serves as the main entry port for imported commodities to Somaliland. The imports include non-food items (like clothes, soaps, fuel, equipment, machinery, non-food household items etc) and food items (mainly rice, wheat flour, cooking oil, sugar, milk powder and pasta). It also serves as the main export facility for livestock to the Gulf States. Thus, Berbera remains the biggest economic base in the region. The economic activities in Berbera include pottering . 10 employment in government sectors and expanding private businesses, transportation of animals to the port as well domestic work in individual houses. Small scale trading and remittance also contributes as income sources to the community of the town. Fishing also plays a role as source of livelihood for some people not only in Berbera town but also in other coastal villages. The fish is mainly sold to the restaurants in Hargeisa.


There are therefore large populations of immigrant labourers in Berbera. Most of these immigrants live in the squatter villages of the town with huge reliance on port activities as an income source. The main food economy zones in Sahil are the Urban (because of livestock ban, urban population has gradually increased and emerged as major food economy zones) and Pastoral (initially the main food economy zone until the imposition of livestock ban) with the agro-pastoral as the minority. The pastoralists mainly keep sheep; goats and camels while the agro-pastoralists who mainly occupy the cool mountainous lowlands and plateaus grow fruits and vegetables (guava, papaya, tomato and cabbages) as their cash crops in addition to keeping livestock. The agro-pastoralists also grow sorghum, maize and cowpea, all in small scale. Cereal production, however, remain marginal. The vegetables and fruits are supplied to urban centres of Berbera and Sheikh as well as other towns in the region. Fishing activities are also undertaken along the beaches of the Gulf of Aden.

The urban food economy zone mainly includes the residents of Berbera, and Sheikh town. The residents of Berbera town depend on Berbera port related activities as the main source of livelihood. The spillover effect of the port related activities reach the surrounding villages and most of the other urban centres. Small scale trading and other related port activities are, therefore, by far the main sources of income. Within the pastoral and agro-pastoral villages especially those along the main road like Dacar Budhuq, Abdalla, Lafaruug, Hudisa etc, there is also a significant segment of the population depending on small-scale trading like operating restaurants, operating small shops etc besides keeping livestock (goats, sheep and camel), which would normally be regarded as long-term assets.

For the development matters, Ministry of national planing and development has developed regional development plan which is focused on the current needs and governmental development agenda. YOVENCO also has its own strategic plan which is in line with national and regional aspirations. For more Sahil regional development information please click the link Sahil regional development plan