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Rift Valley Institute

Making local knowledge work

‘WE HAVE NOT SEEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS BEFORE’: CYCLONE SAGAR AND ITS IMPACT ON LIVELIHOODS IN NORTHWESTERN SOMALILAND

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Cyclone Sagar is arguably the most devastating climate-related crisis to have hit Somaliland in contemporary history. Dominant literature to date lays the emphasis on recurring droughts in the region, since drought is the most prevalent natural hazard. However, there is a need to draw scholarly attention to tropical cyclones—and specifically to Cyclone Sagar, which ravaged northwestern Somaliland in May 2018. There is also reason to draw attention to its impact on the people affected by it and the response mechanisms needed to support affected populations. Drawing upon fieldwork conducted in the Awdal region of northwestern Somaliland between October and December 2023, and on analysis of secondary data, this paper explores the perceptions communities have of Cyclone Sagar, the impact of the cyclone on the livelihoods of affected communities, and responses by different stakeholders in the aftermath of the cyclone. The paper’s findings suggest Cyclone Sagar’s impact was large-scale and destructive, warranting the use of a response mechanism different from the ones applied in the aftermath of droughts.

ABOUT THE REPORT

This paper has been published as a result of Moustafa’s training in the Rift Valley Institute’s (RVI) Research Communities of Practice (RCoP) project. The paper therefore reflects the views of the author and not those or the position of the Rift Valley Institute. The RCoP is one of the RVI’s flagship projects that supports the professional development of early career scholars in east and central Africa through training, mentorship and dissemination of research outputs. Building on RVI’s long-term experience and presence in the region, the RCoP is a value-driven project that is built around a community of practitioners and academics with a common interest in the professional development of early career researchers. With funding from the Carnegie Corporation in New York, USA, and in partnership with the Open Society University Network-Hub for Connected Learning Initiatives, the RVI trained 27 early career scholars from Somalia, Somaliland, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan and Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya in the first and second phases of the RCoP project between August 2022 and January 2024.

THE AUTHOR

Moustafa Ahmad holds a Bachelor’sdegree in Global Studies and International Relations from New Generation University College, Hargeisa, Somaliland. His research interest are the politics, governance and cultural heritage of Somaliland. Currently, Moustafa works as a freelance researcher and writer.

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