Friday, March 15, 2013

Progress: DRC field Staff roll out SMS Feedback System to Qardho District in Somalia

Abdirahman and the SMS Feedback team managed to introduce our SMS Feedback System to 8 communities in Qardho District, Somalia.

 On March 2nd 2013 our SMS Feedback team travelled a grueling 240 km over bumpy and at times unsecure roads from Bossaso to Qardho to integrate the SMS Feedback system into our Community Driven Recovery and Development (CDRD) program to 8 different rural communities. The CDRD program supports in this region several community projects that range from the building of community centres, health posts, schools, and the expansion of Berket (clean water projects). And now with the implementation of our SMS Feedback System in these areas, the DRC will be better able to monitor progress through direct communication with the beneficiaries themselves. For their part, the beneficiaries in these remote areas can communicate their frustrations, appreciations and suggestions on the progress of various community projects supported by the CDRD program. The process as we roll out the SMS Feedback System into new areas of Somalia is simple but not without its challenges. When the team visits a new community they provide them with a number to which anybody can send SMS messages. The beneficiaries are encouraged to send as many relevant messages as they would like, whether they are complaints, questions, or just observations on how to improve the community projects as well as their overall thoughts on the impact of the CDRD program. However, the lack of infrastructure and the remoteness of some of these far flung communities can at times limit the amount of messages we receive. These obstacles include but are not limited to:

  • Poor network coverage in rural villages 
  •  Frequent power shortages that prevent people from charging their cell phones.
  • Illiteracy among the most vulnerable beneficiaries means that they have to rely on third parties to deliver messages.
  • The wide diversity of Somali dialects can sometimes cause communication difficulties

Despite these challenges, the SMS Feedback team still managed to receive a substantial number of messages, specifically 15 in total from all of the communities in Qardho District following the introduction. In keeping with our theme of transparency and accountability these can be viewed on our webpage Abdirahman Abdillahi Muse, an SMS Feedback team member who has traveled to various districts and rural communities throughout Somalia reported that the locals in Qardho expressed enthusiasm when being introduced to the process of sending SMS messages. These positive reactions of the people in Qardho are replicated among communities throughout Somalia where our SMS Feedback System was previously introduced.

Compiled by Abdirahman Abdillahi Muse
Edited by Leila Elmi

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