Waaberi and Hamar Weyne Districts
22-29 April, 2012
We started with market trading beneficiaries at ‘Beerta’ market. This used to be a public park converted into a market and one of the poorest markets in Mogadishu. As with our previous meetings in Wadajir district, my colleagues in Mogadishu have notified beneficiaries and local authorities of our visit. We walked thorough the market and met beneficiaries at their stalls and later met them in one of the beneficiaries house near the market. In total 56 female and 4 male beneficiaries attended the meeting and we had a long chat about the project, how the SMS feedback works, the purpose of the project and they had few questions to ask. This particular group of Waaberi market traders seemed to be less curious and asked fewer questions. It could have been because we have taken them out of their stalls and they were eager to get back to work.
During the stall visits, we have noticed some beneficiaries have used the grants to fix their stalls and improve their working environment. Others have used to it to buy more stock and fill their small stands. Most of the traders are women and in most cases, they are sole breadwinners for their families and support a partner and few children.
About a mile from the market, we went on to our second meeting with beneficiaries from Jeyte IDP camp. The camp was named after a local family, who have provided the space for the camp and whose son is very active in helping the camp residents. We met 25 beneficiaries of a mixed gender. In contrast to beneficiaries we have met in Somaliland and Puntland, majority of the beneficiaries in Mogadishu are women and this was the only camp with almost an equal number of male and female beneficiaries we have met.
Following day, we visited Hamar Weyne district and met with beneficiaries at the local municipal building. Again, we first walked around the market and met beneficiaries at their stalls, with a local government official who works closely with the DRC to implement the projects. It helped that he knew the beneficiaries and took the time to walk with us and inform the beneficiaries to come to the meeting.
The municipal building is also where wet feeding is organized and by the time we got back from the visits, we found the place chaotic with so many people queuing up for food and some of them kept wondering into our meeting. Both the Cash Relief and Small Business Grant beneficiaries arrived at the same time, it was a bit tricky to get the information out clearly in the middle of all the distraction.
The local official advised us to meet with Cash Relief beneficiaries from the major IDP camps and not focus only on 1 so we met with beneficiaries from 5 IDP camps: Torabora, Shaleemo Misioni, Jaamacada, Somali airlines and Baana Fuusi. Typically, IDP camps are set up in deserted buildings, some belong to the government and some to private individuals. Shaleemo Misioni was once a cinema, Jaamcada is literally university and Somali airlines old offices have been turned into IDP camps. Each camp sent between 5 and 7 people so they could share the information with the rest of the beneficiaries in their camps.
In total, I met with 70 beneficiaries from both projects, majority women with about 15 male beneficiaries. Hamar Weyne residents are traditionally very mixed ethnically but like the 2 IDP camps in Waaberi and Wadajir, majority of the Cash Relief beneficiaries in Hamar Weyne were also of Bantu-Somali origin.
Hamar weyne beneficiaries were more engaged and asked more questions compare to the other 2 districts and some of them even seemed a bit aggressive in demanding more cash and asking why they haven’t been paid for the last 2 months. I have taken this information back to the Mogadishu office and it was explained that some beneficiaries, who come from the south of Somalia, have gone back to their places of origin and were absent when the payments were issued. Now they have returned and have to wait for the next round of payments.
We have started to receive a lot of SMSes from these beneficiaries and most of them are expressing a concern that their 6-month planned payment is not completed. We are sharing the information with the Cash Relief team and urging them to complete the payments.
From this short visit, it seems Mogadishu beneficiaries are making more use of the SMS feedback compare to Somaliland and Puntland beneficiaries. We are receiving SMSes daily even though the rate of SMS is very high due to the Somaliland based SIM card. It costs them 10 cents USD to send a single SMS compare to 01 cent within Somaliland yet we are receiving more SMS from Mogadishu.