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RTI Partners With USAID to Study Private Sector Role in Resilience

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — RTI International, a nonprofit research and global development institute, is partnering with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to conduct a two-year research project in Somalia. The Feed the Future Somalia Camel Leasing to Impact Resilience Activity will study an innovative camel-leasing model that has been piloted under the USAID-funded Somalia Growth, Enterprise, Employment, and Livelihoods (GEEL) program, also implemented by RTI.

Through the camel-leasing arrangement, camel-owning pastoralists and small-scale dairy companies in Somalia work together to cope with drought by taking part in a unique agreement whereby the dairy companies lease lactating animals from pastoralists during a drought to ensure sufficient commercial milk supply, with profits shared between the pastoralists and dairy companies. 

In return, the companies provide the animals with veterinary services, water and feed. This helps maintain the nutrition and health of the camels during drought, provides predictable household income while preserving assets and serves as a model that may be a win-win for the private sector and households.

“Livestock leasing is a relatively new strategy for mitigating drought and little to no evidence currently exists on its impact, acceptability and potential for expansion or replication,” says Amy Davies, RTI’s vice president for food security and agriculture. “Through this new two-year study, RTI will dig deeper into the necessary conditions, characteristics and impact of the camel-leasing model in an attempt to determine its effects on the resilience and resilience capacities of individual households in the areas where it’s occurring.”

“The practice of camel leasing during drought provides a fascinating opportunity to study how the local private sector can be leveraged as a source of resilience for pastoralists, while at the same time benefitting their bottom line,” says Greg Collins, deputy assistant administrator in the USAID Bureau for Food Security and USAID resilience coordinator. “In addition to any specific findings on the scalability of camel leasing, we believe this research has the potential to illuminate ways in which to leverage the private sector for resilience more generally, both in Somalia and beyond.”

Building resilience to shocks and stresses is critical in Somalia and around the world, as such events are recurring, can negate development gains and inhibit families’ ability to sustainably escape from poverty. Improving the capacities of households, communities and systems to absorb and adapt to shocks and stresses is a critical part of building resilience. 

Through a combination of qualitative and quantitative research, RTI hopes to form a deeper understanding of camel leasing’s effects by the end of 2021.