SMS feedback from DRC aid beneficiaries in Somalia

Report
from Danish Refugee Council
Published on 12 Jun 2012 View Original

Use your mobile phone to tell us if you have received aid as promised and let us know if something is missing. This is the message in Danish Refugee Council’s innovation project in Somalia where thousands of people rely on humanitarian aid. The feedback system using also social media is now introduced in Mogadishu to shorten the distance between aid agencies and those in need of assistance.

‘The cash relief we receive has helped us immensely’ says the SMS message from a beneficiary in Mogadishu. The SMS feedback is one of many messages from Somali aid recipients that are published as the come in in order for the feedback to be accessible for all. The SMS system is a unique and innovative way of retrieving response directly from beneficiaries of the Danish Refugee Council’s activities in Somalia.

‘It is encouraging for us to be able to get feedback directly from the people whom we are here to help. The setting up of the SMS system has been possible thanks to a grant from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund. We acknowledge that aid recipients rarely have the opportunity to express their opinions. We are thus committed to disseminate the use of SMS systems in Somalia and to replicate it in other countries,’ tells Peter Klansoe, regional director for the Danish Refugee Council Horn of Africa & Yemen.

The SMS feedback project is piloting accountability systems for the delivery of humanitarian aid in Somalia using SMS feedback and social media. The project utilises innovative ways to gather feedback from beneficiaries using SMS via a local SIM card, posting the translated and uncensored feedback on webpage http://somcdrd.org/hif. In addition, findings are shared using a number of social media – including Twitter, Facebook and through a blog.

Since the start of the project in September 2011, beneficiary SMS feedback has been implemented in 31 towns and villages in the North and East of Somalia. Now, the project is extended to a number of districts in Mogadishu from where hundreds of SMS’ are submitted. The majority of the feedback comes from DRC beneficiaries in camps for Somalis displaced by war and drought. Other times messages come from Somalis arriving to areas where DRC works, among them a woman requesting for support: ‘I live in Qardho as an IDP [internally displaced person]. I arrived from South Central Somalia with nine other family members. We don’t have a place to live and there are no jobs here. I am asking [DRC] to assist me and create job for me so I can support my children and give them an education’’ says the SMS message.

The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) recognizes the importance of public access to information for accountability and good governance, and for enabling citizen participation to be meaningful. It addresses this challenge by harnessing information communication technology solutions. The innovation project aims to make interventions from DRC and other humanitarian agencies operating in Somalia more transparent and responsive to citizen’s views and needs by strengthening local level governance and community-based organisations.

Beneficiaries can submit feedback by SMS to +252 2 4000919, 24/7 including public holidays. Feedback is processed and followed up by a member of the feedback team and SMS’ are treated with the strictest confidentiality keeping the senders anonymous.