Thursday, July 12, 2012

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”.

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