Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Buulo Xuubey market in Mogadishu.

Walking thorough a hot and humid Buulo Xuubey market to inform the beneficiaries to meet us at one of the beneficiaries' home. In 20 minutes and with the help of a very kind beneficiary of another project funded by the DRC, we have managed to gather 23 female beneficiaries who are traders in the market and are supported by DRC's livelihood project: Small business grants.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Salahley field trip report - 01/04/2012

The third phase roll out of the Beneficiary SMS Feedback system took place on 25th March, 2012, in Salahley district. We visited Salahley town and 6 villages with ongoing Community-Driven Recovery and Development (CDRD) projects, including: construction and rehabilitating of water tanks (barkets) and wells and farming irrigation system. We met beneficiaries and carried out mobilization and awareness campaign in: Ina-igare, Ina-guha,  Aden Abokor, Qolbulale, Qoldhuhule, Dhinbiriyale villages and Salahley town.

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

After travelling for 2 hours on a rough road for 75km south of Hargiesa, we reached Salahley town about 2pm. On the way, we witnessed signs of drought and villages where many residents migrated to save their livestock. We have come across skeletons of dead animals on the roadside. Winter season is dry, cold and harsh for nomadic communities living in rural areas and they often migrate with their young children and livestock in search of water and greener pastures.
For the following 5 days we visited beneficiaries in Salahley town and the 6 villages for mobilization and awareness raising, these were mainly beneficiaries of water tanks rehabilitation, distribution of seeds and farming tools and community centres.   Beneficiaries included women, students, project implementation committee units (CPIU) and village elders. We met them in groups to make sure we cover as many beneficiaries as possible. As we have done with all the other beneficiaries, we explained in detail how the beneficiary SMS feedback system works, gave them a demonstration by sending an SMS that returned an automated reply. They welcomed the idea and liked that they had a direct access to the Hargeisa office where they can send their feedback any time of the day. The meetings were interactive with beneficiaries asking a lot of questions. 
In Qolbulale village, located on the Somaliland and Ethiopia border, we met Tawakal Women's Association, an active women’s group advocating on issues of education, health, sanitation, and development. This was the only village where we met an organised and active women’s group. We interviewed the chairman of the association, Ms. Koos Aden. She told us that CDRD project has supported Qolbulale residents and women in particular, by building public toilets and distributing food, farming tools, and rehabilitating of 4 water tanks. She has expressed her gratitude for these much needed services which have contributed to the wellbeing of all the residents but she called on CDRD to do more during the winter season by providing humanitarian assistance. In winter, the village suffers acute water and food shortages, sanitation problems and they need animal vaccination to save their livestock.

To manage beneficiaries’ expectations from DRC we emphasized that we will definitely pass on their requests and concerns to DRC, but emphasized that the feedback system is more than requesting for further assistance and we would like to hear details of how previous projects have contributed to their lifestyles. To give them examples of kinds of helpful feedbacks we are looking for, we have shared some SMSes received from beneficiaries in El-Afweny, Odweyne and Qardho regions, which included detailed SMSes of how particular projects have affected beneficiaries’ lives and some complaints, which help improve project delivery and strengthen the relationship between DRC and beneficiaries.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Beerweeso village beneficiaries

Beneficiaries taking part of a workshop to produce a community action plan, locally driven process to determine and prioritize the village's needs for funding.

Extract: Policy Briefing from BBC Media Action. March 2012

Our beneficiary SMS feedback project has been covered in the March edition of the BBC Media Action's monthly E-newsletter. Bellow is an extract and at the end you can find a link to the full brief. 

"Still left in the dark? How people in emergencies use communication to survive – and how humanitarian agencies can help"

Feedback on community projects: The Danish Refugee Council

The Community Driven Recovery and Development (CDRD) project in Somalia provides small grants to communities for local projects identified and managed by community committees. In the interests of effective long distance management – and transparency – the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has placed as much project information as possible online on a dedicated CDRD website and on facebook, including photos of theprojects at key stages – a requirement for the release of new tranches of funding.

One unexpected and positive side effect of the online approach has been direct engagement from the Somali diaspora. DRC have seen a number of cases in which Somalis overseas have become interested in projects, especially those in their areas of origin, to the point of donating their own money to support these particular projects. “We have had people from the diaspora topping up the money for the community,” said one DRC staff member.

DRC are now orientating their online strategy to target such members of the diaspora. “We hope that putting information online through social networks will give more opportunities to the diaspora that would like to support initiatives that take place in their community of origin, but with which they may not have strong links.” DRC then applied to the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) for support to establish mechanisms, primarily SMS, whereby benefi ciaries could contact the project directly with feedback and complaints, and to support their social media work. All feedback is posted on the CDRD website, organised via the Ushahidi mapping system that is managed via one simcard installed on a galaxy tablet, requiring no special arrangement or set-up by a telecom company. The primary motivation was to open direct communication channels with community members without the mediation of gatekeepers – such as community representatives and local authorities – who liaise directly with fi eld staff as a matter of course.

Feedback is translated and managed by two local staff members. DRC staff visit communities to explain the system and how it works to ensure everyone understands how to use it. To overcome problems of illiteracy, the project’s Somali staff are developing partnerships between schoolkids and parents (as the children are often more comfortable with new technology). “We see this as a pilot.” said one staff member. “We also run a big wet feeding programme in Mogadishu. A system like this could allow us to collect statistics – if we get 500 messages from one kitchen then that will tell us about food quality”.

To date the project has received fewer SMS than anticipated (under 100 in three months), most of them complimentary or saying thank you for support. One of the biggest challenges is working out how to respond and engage, especially with those whose information or requests do not relate to DRC’s work. DRC believes that a system level approach may be needed in the longer termDRC stresses that its work in this area could not have happened without support from the HIF, which has given them the space and staffi ng capacity to develop the software and models necessary. 

You can download the original full policy brief from the link bellow. The above extract is on page 8.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012