Mitigating, adapting to, and recovering from shocks and stresses is a critical part of building resilience and, in turn, reducing chronic vulnerability and facilitating inclusive economic growth.
Market systems play a key role in supporting individuals, households, and communities during shocks, but only if the market systems are also resilient to shocks and stresses. Measuring system-level resilience, however, is a nascent area, and there is little research on the relationship between market systems resilience and the resilience of those who rely on those markets.
To fill this gap, RTI recently completed research with internal funding to measure and assess the resilience of livestock and grain market systems in the South West State of Somalia.
Adapting a Resilience Framework to Somalia’s Context
In Somalia, about 60% of the population are pastoralists and make a living herding livestock. Agro-pastoralism, or when crop production is combined with livestock herding, also represents a large livelihood for Somalis. In recent years, both pastoralists and agro-pastoralists have faced recurrent and compounded shocks—from droughts to insecurity stemming from the militant group Al-Shabab—making it challenging to improve their livelihoods and food security.
Drawing on our field-based expertise in resilience programming through the USAID Growth, Enterprise, Employment, and Livelihoods (GEEL) project— including research on the role of the private sector in building resilience through camel leasing—we set out to create a baseline measure of market systems resilience in South West Somalia by exploring two questions:
- How do we measure whether a market system is resilient?
- Which characteristics of a resilient market system are most important for pastoralist and agro-pastoralist households in Somalia?
To answer these research questions we adapted and operationalized USAID’s Market Systems Resilience framework to Somalia’s context using a locally led process to ensure that findings are relevant for future programming.
We customized the MSR framework with input from GEEL staff and local consultants, for example, by selecting markets and their participants for sampling, adapting indicators within the eight structural and behavioral domains of the MSR framework, and creating data collection instruments.
Working with Savana Consultancy and Research Service Ltd., we developed qualitative and quantitative tools that would adequately capture nuances and variations in key variables in South West State’s context and that would also yield information most useful to implementers for resilience programming decisions and design.
In total, 507 market actors were interviewed within the grain and livestock market systems of Baidoa and Hudur districts, representing various types of businesses for each market system—such as fodder producers, petty livestock and grain traders, small/medium livestock and grain traders, and milk sellers, among others.
Measuring Market Systems Resilience Capacities
The research found that businesses were impacted by a variety of shocks—insecurity, road closures, COVID-19-related market closures, and reduced grain and livestock supply due to natural disasters, as illustrated below.