Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Galka’ayo Field Trip Report

November 20/11/2012

The seventh phase of SMS roll-out project took place on November 11th 2012, in Galka'ayo district. We visited a total of twenty new communities. Seven of the twenty communities we visited were located in rural villages where the CDRD has already overseen the construction of new community centers, health posts, and other initiatives related to community development.

Day 1
We successfully carried out awareness campaigns in all twenty of the communities in the Galka'yo district and some surrounding rural villages. In Southern Galkayo we visited: Garsor, Wadajir, Horumar, Howlwadaag, Midnimo, Bandiiradley, Arfuuda, Dagaari, Saddeh-Higlo and Galinsoor. In Northern Galkayo we were able to visit: Horumar 1, Horumar 2, Israac 1, Israac 2, Israac 3, Israac 4, and Israac 5. We also visited the rural villages Cagaaran, Bacaadwayn and bayra. So far we have received SMS feedback from the twenty communities we visited, indicating that the people have a good understanding of how to use the SMS feedback system at this early stage effectively.

Day 2

On the second day of our field trip we held a feedback training workshop at the DRC office in Galkayo in which 5 members of the DRC field staff participated, three from northern and two from southern Galka'ayo. The participants were very engaged and asked many relevant questions. That evening, we visited one community while accompanied by the field staff. We demonstrated effective ways in which the participants could mobilize communities in order to distribute the project visibility and sharing guidelines. They indicated that they understood the practicalities of the SMS feedback program and found it very useful.

That same afternoon we visited Israac 4 community in order to test the feedback system. We were warmly welcomed by the CPIU of Israac 4 and the community in general. We distributed project guidelines, posters, and brochures that explained exactly how the SMS feedback program functions. They demonstrated a good grasp of the concept and the practicalities involved.
Field Trip Objectives
  • Roll out Beneficiary SMS Feedback system to Galka'ayo District and Abudwak
  • Mobilize the beneficiaries, inform and explain to them how the SMS feedback system works and how they can use it. 
  •    Establish good working relations with the community project implementation unit (CPIU), village committees, DRC field staff and team leaders to help us implement the project effectively and act as our contact person in the field. 
  •          Training the field staff to gain the skills necessary to specifically implement the SMS feedback program. 
  •          Help make the field staff aware of how to maintain the internet configuration on the phones and the feedback system. 
  •          Address and answer any concerns or questions the beneficiaries might have for us.
 Day Three
On the third day of our trip we visited five communities in southern Galka'ayo. We had constructive discussions with the local CDRD teams and were able to answer questions as well as gain valuable feedback from teams on the ground about any concerns or suggestions.
Day Four
On day four we visited four communities in rural areas of southern Galka'ayo where the CDRD teams were implementing sub-projects. We traveled on land for about 100km to reach southern Galka'ayo which is known to be and insecure and high risk area. We encountered several checkpoints manned by free clan militia. We could not have safely undertaken this journey without the support of the local people for which we are very grateful.
During the remaining days of our trip we were able to work in northern Galka'ayo and visited ten new communities including two rural communities.  The people we encountered were tough and asked me many great questions related the project and DRC. We answered all their questions until they were satisfied and we were satisfied that they knew how to properly use the SMS feedback system.
Technical challenges when sending SMS
  •          Somali language difficulties such as different lingo and accents
Safety and Security in general
  •      The CPIU committee complained about the CDRD fund and pointed out that $15000 USD is not enough to build a community centre or health post.
  •          Beneficiaries have high expectation from DRC as they get communication system.
  •          Using 3 different feedback numbers can be a challenge and confusing.
  •          Distrust between communities thus hindering integration.
  •          Poor internet connection which interferes with timely SMS feedback.
  •        Power shortages making it difficult to charge phones. 
  •      Militia interference with the sending of SMS messages to International NGOs. 
  •         Some areas were inaccessible to DRC because of clan warfare and insecurity.
Lessons learned
  •         Galka'ayo is a city divided in two by clan rivalries. Part of it is unofficially a part of Puntland and the other part is part of South Central Somalia.
  •         Quality of life is affected by a lack of infrastructure such as proper schools, hospitals or security apparatus.
  •         There is a proliferation of weapons win Galka’ayo with a large portion of the population owning guns, which adds to the insecurity and the potential for violence between different clan militias.
  •          Pirates have a visible presence in Galka’ayo adding to the insecurity as they too have weapons as well as cash.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ainabo district SMS feedback roll out - 18 to 22nd June, 2012

Wadamogo Village Ainabo DistrictWadamago Elders's ChairmanWadamago Elders meetingSMS project roll out to Ainabo DistrictThe feedback team, represented by the MIS Officer on the far left, meeting the village committee.Higladda Community Elders
Finishing touches to the recently built Higladda Community Centre.Higladda Community CentreHigladda Village in Ainabo DistrictAinabo Central BankDRC Office in Ainabo

Ainabo District Beneficiary SMS Feedback roll out: June 21/06/2012

The Beneficiary SMS Feedback roll out to Ainabo district took place on 18th June, 2012. We visited Ainabo town and 2 villages, Wadamogoo and Higladda villages. The Community-Driven Recovery and Development (CDRD) has projects currently implemented, including: construction of community centre, rehabilitating water tanks and supporting agricultural activities.

1.    Roll out Beneficiary SMS Feedback system to Ainabo district.
2.    Mobilize beneficiaries, informing and explaining to them how the SMS feedback works.
3.    Establishing good working relations with the Community Project Implementation Unit (CPIU), Village Committees and local DRC staff team leaders to help us implement the project effectively and act as our contact point in the field.

We set off early on the 17th June on a 7-hour roadtrip from Hargeisa to Ainabo district, covering 472km distance and arrived in Ainabo at 4:20pm. During this rainy season the country transforms into green and lush open space making the road trip very pleasant.

The second day of trip we visited two villages, Higladda, 52km, and Wadamagoo, 15km  from Ainabo respectively. In Higladda village, we met the Community Project Implementation Unit (CPIU), who welcomed us warmly and gave detailed information about the projects implemented in their village by the CDRD. We, intern, explained how the beneficiary SMS feedback system works, gave them posters with feedback number and brief explanation and copies of FAQ on SMS feedback. We have also shared with the beneficiaries our experience so far working with other DRC beneficiaries, issues that have come up, such as receiving too many ‘requests’ for more assistance that are outside our mandate and how we have developed the system to cut waiting time for feedback and are currently able to send feedbacks within a week maximum. The community members present expressed a delight at the possibility of having a direct access to DRC and promised to send their feedback. “This is the best form of communication for us as it is flexible and we given a direct access to the DRC. This creates a big difference between the DRC and other NGOs working in the district.” said one of the Higladda CPIU member. 

The Second village we visited was Wadamagoo, located 15km east of Ainabo.  It was just after the rains so the village was very green and pleasant. We met some of the beneficiaries and CPIU members. We explained and informally (as we do will all the beneficiaries we meet) discussed about the beneficiary SMS feedback project. The beneficiaries in this village asked more questions about the feedback system compared to the beneficiaries in the our previous two visists. They seemed more attentive and interested. Some of the beneficiaries tested the system while we were with them to see if it works and if they would receive an automated response as explained. There were also more youth and literate beneficiaries present, which is no common in our field visits with beneficiaries.

The afternoon on the same day we also met one of the Ainabo city beneficiary groups. Although Ainabo has three CDRD projects running, we only had time to meet one project beneficiary group. We planned to meet the other two groups the next day. We repeated the same information and question and answer session and distributed posters with the feedback number.

A violent incident and a sad loss
On the third day of our trip, unfortunately, we received tragic news after one of the DRC rental car drivers, Mohamed Said Maaweel, was ambushed and killed by militia in the disputed area of Sanaag, and his vehicle taken. This took place just outside Ainabo district late in the afternoon when he was travelling to qoridhere village, where the CDRD is implementing a project. Mohamed was buried the next day and all DRC staff were advised to leave Ainabo and return to Hargeisa until the security situation was back to normal. This was a big shock to all staff and particularly to Ainabo office staff as he has worked with them and they got to know Mohamed as a kind and friendly young man. On the following day all DRC operations in Ainabo district were temporarily suspended and we all left for Hargeisa.

Due to this incident, our plan to roll out the beneficiary SMS feedback to all the 15 villages in Ainabo district was disrupted and we had to cancel until further notice.

We are very sad to have lost Mohamed and will remember him as very helpful, kind and cheerful person.

  • Unpredictable and volatile environment
  •  Intense clan conflict which led to a bad community relations and mistrust between some beneficiaries and local DRC staff
  •  Very remote and not easily accessible
  •  Poor network coverage
  •  Power shortage to charge phones
Shortly after we returned to Hargeisa we received a complaint from a beneficiary in this district. It was a serious allegation implicating a staff member. We have followed our complaint procedure and investigated the complaint to ensure it is genuine. It turned out to be a personal grudge against a DRC staff member based in the Ainabo district. The complaint and steps taken are also posted on our blog and Facebook page under the title “The first not-so-genuine complaint”.