Giving voice to Somali aid recipients in Galkayo
Danish Refugee Council is piloting innovative systems for humanitarian aid in Somalia. Using SMS and social media, aid workers and beneficiaries engage in dialogue to promote transparency and accountability.
By DRC SMS Feedback team, Galkayo Field Trip Report November 2012
Galkayo is a large city divided into two parts. Part of it is in Puntland, and part of it is in South Central Somalia. There is an informal border governed by Somali clans. Hostility and rivalry is causing armed conflict and violence which has largely hindered people from crossing the border. The area is marked by poverty and communities are vulnerable because they have limited access to schools, medical aid, and other basic services. There is general insecurity due to the many armed militias and criminals fighting for territory in the border region.
This is the latest area in which the Danish Refugee Council has rolled out its SMS Feedback project. The SMS Feedback System was developed with funding from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund and launched in 2011. It provides humanitarian aid recepients in isolated areas of Somalia with information on aid accountability – in other words what to expect from the Danish Refugee Council and how to make sure their voices are heard. A specific SMS Feedback Team is established to ensure that each message is dealt with and responded to.
Below is the diary of the SMS Feedback Team’s trip to Galkayo in November.
The SMS Feedback Team visited and introduced the SMS Feedback System to all 20 communities in Galka'yo district. In South Galk’ayo they visited: Garsor, Wadajir, Horumar, Howlwadaag, Midnimo, Bandiiradley, Arfuuda, Dagaari, Saddeh-Higlo and Galinsoor. In North Galkayo: Horumar 1, Horumar 2, Israac 1, Israac 2, Israac 3, Israac 4, and Israac 5.
In each community people were able to use and understand the new cell phone technology and how to transmit messages. They were engaged and asked many questions. So far, the team has received messages from all communities, demonstrating that they have an understanding of the SMS Feedback System.
On the second day, we held a feedback information workshop at the DRC office in Galkayo. The participants were engaged and asked many questions. That same afternoon we visited Israac 4 community in order to test the feedback system. We were warmly welcomed by the community and distributed project guidelines, posters, and brochures.
On the third day, we visited five communities in South Galkayo. We had constructive discussions with the Danish Refugee Council’s team from the Community Driven Recovery and Development Programme (CDRD) about their concerns and suggestions.
On day four we visited four communities in rural areas of South Galkayo where the CDRD teams were working. We traveled on land for about 100km to reach South Galkayo and encountered several checkpoints manned by clan militia. We could not have safely undertaken this journey without the support of the local people for which we are very grateful.
During the remaining days of our trip we went to North Galkayo and visited 10 new communities. The people we encountered were tough and asked me many great questions related the project and DRC. We answered all their questions until they were satisfied and we were satisfied that they now know how to use the SMS Feedback System.