Dozens of small communities are scattered throughout the Cal Madow. These villages are small, sporting no more than a few hundred people, and are often quite isolated. Access to schools, healthcare, and other services are limited here, as there is little physical infrastructure and few educated people to provide these services.
Frankincense and other phytochemical harvesting is the largest industry here. Frankincense harvesting is an often dangerous occupation, requiring harvesters to work on steep cliffs and in remote areas. They are often injured or killed or injured in falls or by venomous snakes such as saw-scaled vipers.
Some people also herd livestock, primarily goats, and there may be small-scale artisanal mining efforts underway. Agriculture such as citrus cultivation was present here before the civil war, but now it is largely gone.
A particularly destructive industry is charcoal production. Charcoalers cut down mature Acacia, Commiphora, and other trees, then burn them in large pits to produce charcoal. Charcoaling is a subsistence industry, often practiced by a solitary individual, and has been a driving cause of deforestation in the Cal Madow and around the country.
In addition to the permanent villages, there are many small harvesting camps that are occupied for only part of the year, and many illegal settlements. Illegal frankincense harvesting has become a significant issue as harvesters without their own lands cut trees and collect resin behind the legitimate harvesters. This activity contributes both to conflict in the region and the decline of the trees.