Somali citizen perspectives on humanitarian priorities in 2018 (REACH)

Delivering an innovative Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) intervention in Somalia, in support of the Joint Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment (JMCNA) run by REACH

Somali citizen perspectives on humanitarian priorities in 2018 (REACH)

In partnership with REACH, (a joint initiative between the NGOs ACTED and IMPACT), Africa’s Voices delivered an innovative Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) intervention in Somalia, in support of the Joint Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment (JMCNA) run by REACH nationwide.

Our intervention was intended to feedback findings from the JMCNA to communities, spark a wider dialogue on the humanitarian situation in Somalia, and gather feedback from affected populations to ensure their voices influence humanitarian planning processes. The project leveraged on AVF’s interactive radio methodology using radio debate shows shaped by audience feedback sent in by SMS.

What we did

In a one-week rapid consultation, AVF heard from 8,955 people who engaged directly with the programme through SMS. Radio shows were broadcast through a network of 27 FM stations and contained an overview of the JMCNA process and findings, the perspectives of audiences sent in by SMS before the show, and interviews with OCHA and government representatives on the value and implications of findings. Transcripts from the radio shows reveal how this method effectively placed the voice of affected communities in direct dialogue with the key actors of the response.

The consultation process heard from people in every region in Somalia, including a few from areas inaccessible to the JMCNA. The approach was particularly inclusive of women (42%), youth (59% of participants were under 25) and IDPs (35%). There was, however, an urban bias in participation – only 19% were from rural areas.

Key insights and recommendations

  • Citizens, especially men, the elderly, and those in urban areas, perceive the humanitarian crisis to be a product of poor governance, conflict and weak accountability systems. This emphasises the need for humanitarian interventions to be grounded in robust conflict/political economy analysis. It further highlights the importance of ensuring humanitarian activities are linked with peacebuilding and governance programming.
  • There is strong demand, especially among youth, for greater community mobilisation to collectively address humanitarian needs, suggesting that humanitarian efforts supporting government institutions should be carefully balanced against communities’ own demands to autonomously organise themselves. The popular suggestion that communities should be part of committees that plan and monitor aid activities, albeit likely most effective if implemented at the district level, gives support to this modality of implementing aid.
  • Citizens demand greater involvement in the activities of NGOs and government, including data assessment and analysis. On the one hand, this included a concern on the unfair distribution of aid based on clan and kinship networks, highlighting the importance of establishing effective feedback and complaints mechanisms which would be more successful if grounded in strong political economy analysis. On the other hand, people felt that they should be listened to more in the design of aid programmes, including in the analysis of assessment data. AVF’s analysis concluded that, whereas processes such as interactive radio enable discussion around NGO activities and assessment, they are best complemented with on the ground consultations.
  • Participants argued for job creation, durable solutions, awareness and building resilience, reinforcing the humanitarian community’s move towards transitional programming.  This was also highlighted in the JMCNA findings.
  • Greater awareness is an important part of solving humanitarian issues, highlighting the importance of C4D that can empower communities with information around behaviour change, capacity-building, and the availability of services. However, the successful implementation of activities requires greater coordination by the humanitarian response in Somalia, either through a working group or an additional mechanism conjoined with the existing cluster structure.
  • The provision of health and education services remain important, especially in rural areas and among IDPs. Whilst healthcare likely requires an extension of coverage of existing services, education outcomes could be supported by stimulating demand through interventions such as cash-based assistance. Further understanding of why IDPs lack access despite greater proximity will be important to addressing their vulnerability.
  • Priority needs around the humanitarian crisis vary significantly by geography. In Somaliland access to water dominated, whilst in Galmudug, it was lack of food security and nutrition, and in Baidoa the priority was hygiene. Increasing engagement and working with a larger sample size, could give a fuller picture of how needs vary across geographies and change over time.


Overall, communities were resoundingly in favour of the process – 87% of participants felt like this project made them feel more included in decision making, stressing that it resonated with their values and enabled their perspectives on humanitarian responses to reach decision-makers.

In recognition of our successful AAP intervention in Somalia, Africa’s Voices was commended in the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO):

“The use of radio has proven particularly efficient and effective in Somalia, especially in hard to reach areas. As was the case at the height of the drought in 2017, the collecting of feedback from radio listeners across the country enabled people, even from the most vulnerable communities, to share their concerns and views, consequently allowing the humanitarian community to make associated adjustments. Interactive radio programmes and SMS messaging by African Voices Foundation additionally garnered feedback from 8,955 individuals across every region in Somalia. An extremely high proportion of respondents (87 per cent) indicated that they felt the consultations had made them feel more included in decision-making, and the same proportion further reported that they would like to see this process repeated in the future. This should be fully taken into account in community engagement planning in the HRP.”

Additional resources

Joint Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment – Initial Findings (September 2018)

OCHA 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview Somalia 

Image: Cate Turton/Department for International Development