Monday, February 13, 2012

Odweyne roll out trip summary: January 29/2012

The second phase roll-out of the Beneficiary SMS Feedback system took place on 24th January, 2012, in Odweyne district. We have visited beneficiaries with ongoing CDRD projects, including construction of community centres and water tanks (berkat). We carried out mobilization and awareness campaign in Odweine Town and 9 villages: Berato, El-same, Hahi, Haro-sheikh, Qalo’ato, Dabagorayale, Lan Mulaxo, Khatumo and Haji-salah.

We met each community and explained in detail what the Beneficiary SMS Feedback system is and how it works.  The beneficiaries consisted of elders, women, and the Community Implementation Project Unit (CIPU), the locally elected body that is responsible for CDRD project implementation. They were happy to learn that they could directly communicate with the head office in Hargeisa, despite the challenges with the electricity shortage and illiteracy.
To ensure that beneficiaries really understood the system and can send SMS, we asked if some of them could test the feedback system and send messages during the mobilisation. They did and we shared our experiences from previous field trips to El-Afweyn and Qardho. Some beneficiaries in these towns needed help to write their feedback messages and we found that partnering parents with their literate children worked successfully. They seemed happy with the idea and promised to take it onboard.

      ·         Poor network coverage.

·         Most of the beneficiaries are nomad, illiterate and in some cases have never sent an SMS.
·         Power shortage to charge phones.
·        Some beneficiaries are resistant to the idea of sending SMS because it is a new concept to them and find it requires a lot of effort.

Lessons learned
·       Almost all beneficiaries tend to be impatient and demand that their SMSes are answered urgently. We explain the process to them and the average time it takes to process a complaint or a request.
·       We learnt about local businessmen such as Hussein Hassan, see picture bellow, who make a living out of charging mobile phones for people with no access to electricity for about 0.5$. Communities are happy with this type of service because they struggle with power shortage.
Trip summary
Odweyne District is about 7 hours drive from Hargeisa on a partly rough road. The 6-day road trip, including daily visits to the villages outside Odweyne town, was intense but very productive.

What made the rolling out of the feedback system to Odweyne a bit easier is that we have put to use lessons learnt from the first pilot field trips to El-Afweyn, Somaliland and Qardho, Puntland. Mainly that we needed to develop simple and easy to understand guides and things like the stickers so beneficiaries can understand the feedback system easier. Also, unlike the first pilot field trip, now the SMS feedback has been properly tested and beneficiaries can send SMSes during the mobilization and if they have problems or questions can directly ask us direct.

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