UNICEF: Somali people’s views on local governance

Through radio and SMS, we set up a feedback loop between citizens and local government officials on issues of service delivery and security.

UNICEF: Somali people’s views on local governance

In the past few years, Somalia has been emerging from decades of conflict — but the path to good and effective governance is complex. The sustainability and quality of a political settlement rely on government being legitimate, transparent, and accountable in the eyes of ordinary citizens.  

To inform local government efforts related to service delivery, security, and citizen participation, AVF worked with UNICEF, district officials, and other governance actors in Kismayo and Baidoa — the capitals of two key emerging federal states (Jubaland and Bay, respectively).

WHAT WE DID

In short broadcasts on five radio stations, weekly questions were asked over six weeks in late 2017. Audience members could participate by sending a toll-free SMS, after which they received follow-up SMS questions on their demographics.

After three weeks of gathering this data, 30-minute radio shows featured local and state authority figures who discussed and responded to the audience opinions gathered in the preceding weeks. In effect, this created a conversation between citizens and governance actors.

INSIGHTS & IMPACT

Men, those with higher education and older people were all more likely to be dissatisfied with service-delivery by local government than other audience members. Those dissatisfied with local government performance often discussed this in terms of the government failing to live up to certain political values, whether they were transparency, fairness or abiding by Somali cultural and religious norms. They also mentioned a range of services that they perceived as lacking including education, healthcare, and infrastructure.

  • “The local government in Baidoa should create jobs for the youth, where most them have education but do not have jobs.”  – Male, Baidoa
  • “We want projects on digging for wells, as [people] are complaining of extremely limited water in our city.” – Female, Baidoa
  • “The community cannot develop (1) without leadership (2) without safety (3) without education.” – Unknown
  • “I would politely ask the local government to account for the taxation because, as I know, the taxes are not accounted for” – Unknown

Local officials who were involved in the radio shows have commended the initiative and its civic education element. UNICEF and other UN partners are looking to scale up this pilot to a much larger interactive communication campaign using AVF’s approach.

Photo credit: A man stands in front of a convoy on the road connecting Afgooye to Baidoa. AU-UN IST PHOTO / TOBIN JONES.