Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Appreciation and Criticism: SMS from Beneficiaries help DRC maintain Accountability and Transparency

Communication between aid workers and beneficiaries in Somalia through SMS has allowed the Danish Refugee Council to monitor and improve the way in which it delivers aid in the field.

By DRC SMS Feedback team, February 2013

The SMS Feedback System was developed with funding from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund and launched in 2011.Its purpose is to provide aid recipients in isolated areas of Somalia with the means to communicate with aid providers.

Over the course of three months the SMS feedback team has received over 21 SMS messages from towns and cities all over Northern and Southern Somalia including Mogadishu, Galka’ayo, Ainabo, Salahley and Sheikh. More often than not, these are messages of appreciation or simple inquiries into the day to day work that DRC does throughout the region. Sometimes however, the SMS feedback team receives frank messages of complaint or annoyance. These are the most useful messages as it allows the SMS feedback team time to address problems as they arise and to notice them sooner than they otherwise would have in the past. It also gives aid beneficiaries greater say on the kind of help they receive, not to mention a greater awareness of the impact of DRC work in their communities. The following exchange between a man in Salahley District and one of our Community Driven and Recovery Development (CDRD) project team members in the field highlights a typical exchange:

Translated SMS: We agreed that the DRC would complete projects in Salahley in two years, but the DRC has postponed projects, and the delay is your responsibility. We are asking ourselves why this has happened. DRC is what you told us fake or is something wrong with your projects?

The above complaint was forwarded from Salahley to the SMS feedback team where it was investigated before sending back a reply. This process is repeated daily on a large scale between aid beneficiaries and aid workers. The language is often frank as the above message demonstrates, and the individuals are not shy about letting their feelings be known. For the aid workers, this process enables them to be accountable to the communities they work in. Most importantly however, this process is completely transparent in that anybody can access these communications online at our CDRD page and our various social media outlets such as facebook, our CDRD blog and twitter. In this way information is constantly being shared between aid beneficiaries, DRC staff, and donors. This free flow of information is key to improving the process by which DRC provides humanitarian relief throughout Somalia. 

Report prepared by Abdirahman Abdillahi Muse

/edited by Leila Elmi


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