Nearly 2 million pilgrims around the world would always go to the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the Islam’s holiest site in Mecca, Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj.
The annual pilgrimage is meant to be carried out at least once in the lifetime of any Muslim who is physically and financially able.
But this year’s Hajj is abit different from the previous onces, the global Coronavirus pandemic has forced the Saudi authorities to limit the number of Hajj Pilgrims to just 10,000 pilgrims who are already in the kingdom, dealing a major blow to the dreams of millions of pilgrims and those of the livestock traders and exporters who supply millions of camels, cows, goats and sheeps to Hajj.
The drop in the demand of livestock has been a nightmare for the horn of Africa nation, which derives three quarters of its economy from the livestock industry. Somali Livestock is normally exported to Saudi Arabia during the Hajj pilgrimage reaping big time on millions of dollars from the exports.
Many livestock owners in Somalia are now counting heavy losses after being forced to transport their livestock from far areas of Somalia nearly 800 miles to various destination points like Bosaso, Berbera among others only to be told that their livestock would not be bought during this year’s Hajj owing to a staggering reduction of pilgrims and the tough stringent restrictions brought by the Corona Virus.
The end of hajj is usually marked by the festival of Eid al-Adha, which calls for the sacrifice of an animal in the Islamic religion.
Many Somalis take out loans to expand their herds and livestock breed and pay them back with income in the lead-up to the hajj months business boom. But this years Hajj is a deeply troubling one, many are now faced with deeper debt that may turn into a long-term drag on their income.
The price for camels, for example, has significantly dropped by nearly half, from 1,000 USD to 500 USD. The cows and goats have also reduced down by around half. The downturn hits everyone hard from the livestock brokers, transporters to caretakers and exporters as well.
The ripple effects is so huge, its cuts across everyone and everything. The overall impact on the country, on foreign exchange, on loss of taxes, the devaluation of currency and inflation.
The Somali economy is already in dire straits after decades of conflict and political strife. Cycles of drought and flooding menace has been witnessed and now the global COVID-19 pandemic had negative impacts on economy, remittances flows, deeply hitting hard the financial stability for many Somalis.
Due to this year’s Hajj livestock exportation nightmare, Many Somali Livestock owners said they are saving their herds for next year’s Hajj hoping that the next hajj will be different from this year’s.
BY OSMAN HUSSEIN ALI