Somali Regional State: Highlights of Physical and Socio Features

The Somali Regional State is located in southeastern part of Ethiopia lying between 4 degree and 11-degree north latitudes and 40-degree to 48-degree east latitudes. It occupies a total area of 279,252 km square. It shares boundaries with Oromia in west, Afar in northwest, Djibouti Republic in far north, Kenya in south and with Somali Republic in southeast and northeast.
In 2007 the population of the regional State is estimated at 4,439,147, consisting of 2,468,784 men and 1,970,363 women; urban inhabitants number 621,210 or 14% of the population based on the 2007 CENSUS conducted by Central statistical Agency(CSA).

Soil wise it has a predominately desert soils. Climatically the region is divided principally into semi-arid, arid and desert. It has a) annual rainfall of 600 and below, b) length of crop growing period stretching from 1 to 119 days and c) average annual temperature ranging from 20 o C to 45 o C. The wet seasons are March through May and September through November while the dry season runs in December –February and June and august. Reliability of rainfall, as percentage departure from normal, ranges from 30 to 40 in eastern and northern and 25 to 30 in southern and western parts (Atlas of African Agriculture, FAO).

It has four major rivers: Wabishebelle, Genalle, Weyb and Dawa. Administratively Somali Regional State is one of the constituencies that form federal democratic republic state of Ethiopia. It is structured into nine zones and fifty-three woredas. Jijiga is the capital city of the Somali region and Somali is the official working language of the region.

The average household is traditionally informed and thus relies heavily on rain and extensive animal husbandry as the main stay of economic activity supporting principally subsistence livelihood system. Crop cultivation is only taken as complementary activity where the prevailing technology, knowledge and organization capacities of institutions, communities and associations allow. Over 85 % of the population is thus pastoralist living in district rural areas. Specific clans inhabit specific areas with seasonal movement in search of better pasture and water without detachment from their respective base areas/habitat.

The region is endowed with livestock, forest, agricultural, water irrigable land and mineral resources. According to the 2007 Census conducted by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia (CSA), the Somali Region has livestock numbering:

Cattle 6,000,000
Goats & Sheep 17,000,000
Camels 2,000,000
Asses, Mules & Horses 2,500,000

And yet the great majority of the population is not at the thresh-old of the escape from the various forms of grinding social and economic problems the consequences of which have been growing human discomfort and unhappiness.

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