The seventh phase of SMS roll-out project took place on November 11th 2012, in Galka'ayo district. We visited a total of twenty new communities. Seven of the twenty communities we visited were located in rural villages where the CDRD has already overseen the construction of new community centers, health posts, and other initiatives related to community development.
We successfully carried out awareness campaigns in all twenty of the communities in the Galka'yo district and some surrounding rural villages. In Southern Galkayo we visited: Garsor, Wadajir, Horumar, Howlwadaag, Midnimo, Bandiiradley, Arfuuda, Dagaari, Saddeh-Higlo and Galinsoor. In Northern Galkayo we were able to visit: Horumar 1, Horumar 2, Israac 1, Israac 2, Israac 3, Israac 4, and Israac 5. We also visited the rural villages Cagaaran, Bacaadwayn and bayra. So far we have received SMS feedback from the twenty communities we visited, indicating that the people have a good understanding of how to use the SMS feedback system at this early stage effectively.
On the second day of our field trip we held a feedback training workshop at the DRC office in Galkayo in which 5 members of the DRC field staff participated, three from northern and two from southern Galka'ayo. The participants were very engaged and asked many relevant questions. That evening, we visited one community while accompanied by the field staff. We demonstrated effective ways in which the participants could mobilize communities in order to distribute the project visibility and sharing guidelines. They indicated that they understood the practicalities of the SMS feedback program and found it very useful.
That same afternoon we visited Israac 4 community in order to test the feedback system. We were warmly welcomed by the CPIU of Israac 4 and the community in general. We distributed project guidelines, posters, and brochures that explained exactly how the SMS feedback program functions. They demonstrated a good grasp of the concept and the practicalities involved.
Field Trip Objectives
- Roll out Beneficiary SMS Feedback system to Galka'ayo District and Abudwak
- Mobilize the beneficiaries, inform and explain to them how the SMS feedback system works and how they can use it.
- Establish good working relations with the community project implementation unit (CPIU), village committees, DRC field staff and team leaders to help us implement the project effectively and act as our contact person in the field.
- Training the field staff to gain the skills necessary to specifically implement the SMS feedback program.
- Help make the field staff aware of how to maintain the internet configuration on the phones and the feedback system.
- Address and answer any concerns or questions the beneficiaries might have for us.
On the third day of our trip we visited five communities in southern Galka'ayo. We had constructive discussions with the local CDRD teams and were able to answer questions as well as gain valuable feedback from teams on the ground about any concerns or suggestions.
On day four we visited four communities in rural areas of southern Galka'ayo where the CDRD teams were implementing sub-projects. We traveled on land for about 100km to reach southern Galka'ayo which is known to be and insecure and high risk area. We encountered several checkpoints manned by free 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 were able to work in northern Galka'ayo and visited ten new communities including two rural 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 knew how to properly use the SMS feedback system.
Technical challenges when sending SMS
- Somali language difficulties such as different lingo and accents
- The CPIU committee complained about the CDRD fund and pointed out that $15000 USD is not enough to build a community centre or health post.
- Beneficiaries have high expectation from DRC as they get communication system.
- Using 3 different feedback numbers can be a challenge and confusing.
- Distrust between communities thus hindering integration.
- Poor internet connection which interferes with timely SMS feedback.
- Power shortages making it difficult to charge phones.
- Militia interference with the sending of SMS messages to International NGOs.
- Some areas were inaccessible to DRC because of clan warfare and insecurity.
- Galka'ayo is a city divided in two by clan rivalries. Part of it is unofficially a part of Puntland and the other part is part of South Central Somalia.
- Quality of life is affected by a lack of infrastructure such as proper schools, hospitals or security apparatus.
- There is a proliferation of weapons win Galka’ayo with a large portion of the population owning guns, which adds to the insecurity and the potential for violence between different clan militias.
- Pirates have a visible presence in Galka’ayo adding to the insecurity as they too have weapons as well as cash.