The Refugee and Migration Africa Project of DW Akademie (DWA) is a three-year endeavor (2019 – 2021) whose aim is to improve the access of people affected by forced migration to reliable information.
To help in designing the project, there was a need to first understand the information needs of migrants in Gambella Regional State as well as the host community. In order to understand current information needs of the community, DWA rolled out an information needs assessment to answer relevant questions on access to information. This assessment was carried out in October 2019 and targeted the refugee communities in Pugnido, Pugnido 2, Jewi, Nguenyyiel, Kule and Tierkidi Camps and the host community in Gambella region living within a 10 km radius of the camps. The survey intended to answer the following questions:
– How do the people in the different locations access information? Which languages do they use? What is their level of reading and writing skills?
– Which means (written, audio and video etc.)/sources of information are available to them?
– Do people feel they have enough information to make informed decisions?
– What information do they require to make informed decisions?
– Which sources of information do they trust?
A mix of qualitative and quantitative methods were used for the information needs assessment. The quantitative survey was carried out with persons above 18 years at the household level and a separate survey was administered to children aged 11—17 years. Focus group discussions and key informant interviews were the main qualitative techniques used. Focus group discussions were conducted amongst the community members aged over 18 years in both the host and refugee communities while key informant interviews were done with the organizations and community leader representatives.
The data collection process happened in two phases. The first phase was exploratory and was used to improve the quantitative questionnaire after gaining an understanding of the underlying community needs. Once the questionnaire was refined, the data collection process begun. A representative sample of host community and refugees was established, and proportionately distributed based on the population statistics shared by UNHCR. Overall, 635 household interviews with adult members, 90 interviews with children were conducted during the quantitative phase.
The results of the assessment were profound, echoing the need for information by the target respondents as reflected by the survey findings which show that over 80% of the respondents interviewed did not have enough information to make decisions.
The assessment found that there were several barriers to accessing information in both the host and refugee communities.
Overall, access to TV and radio was low across all demographics which was the main contributing factor to low information access. Even though the host community had limited access to the aforementioned facilities, they had better access compared to the refugees. The factors ranged from, inadequate infrastructure including poor roads and lack of electricity, lack of local media stations broadcasting in the local language which creates language barriers, illiteracy issues, as well as low incomes which is an impediment to purchasing TVs, radio sets and mobile phones amongst others. The inability to read was reported as a hindrance in reading newspapers. 32%, 25% and 28% of respondents in the three refugee camps, host urban and host rural communities reported they are unable to read. Anuak, Nuer and Amharic were the dominant languages spoken and written in the refugee camps as well as the host community. However, most of the media available was in Amharic.