*This report reflects information from July 2023 to December 2023.
Between July and December 2023 Loop continued to provide a free, accessible community feedback and sensitive reporting mechanism in Somalia. Loop is now accessible across all of Somalia after the new short code (2023) was announced and became available in Somaliland and Puntland, in addition to South Central, a step we are proud to have accomplished in 2023.
Loop’s team in Somalia is growing and new staff who speak different dialects and languages have joined the team hosted by the Centre for Peace and Democracy (CPD). Loop’s language strategy goes hand in hand with the need to make accountability mechanisms accessible, inclusive, and safe to the different minority communities across Somalia. Our ambition is to make the platform available in several languages including Baajuuni, Mushunguli, Barwaani, Benadiri and Benaadiri af Marka. See our Somali language strategy here on our blog, for more information.
In the last 6 months we have learnt that the community are strong advocates for accountability and fairness and they respond when asked to report about specific concerns that they see. We can evidence of this through two examples: The first was a request via Radio messaging in August by the PSEA Network and UNICEF, informing people about their rights to safe and abuse-free aid, followed by inviting them to feedback into Loop if this was not the case. As a result, Loop received reports of Aid Diversion, SEA allegations and reports about serious GBV.
The second example was in December when UNICEF asked communities, through U-Report SMS blasts, radio and TV broadcasts, to report the selling of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) supplements for children, which are distributed for free for severely malnourished children. The clear request resulted in immediate, actionable feedback from a wide variety of people.
Interestingly, as a result of this messaging we see an increased use of the term “accountability agencies” when people are recording their messages on Loop, showing a direct impact of campaigns and the Somali communities’ knowledge and lexicon to engage.
During the last six months, survivors and their support network have used Loop to ask for advice at critical points, such as where to go, to safely get medical support after abuse without risk of being further marginalised as a result of the abuse. They have also continued to report Aid diversion. We also receive reports of exclusion from populations such as people living with a disability or minority groups.
This year started with a long period of drought that was then followed by unprecedented floods. The poor conditions the community had to suffer were evident as Loop has seen a huge increase in feedback from late October until now. It started before the flooding when the Community Engagement and Accountability Task Force (CEA TF) members all circulated messages to prepare the community for the El Niño floods and announced Loop’s short code as a channel to report needs. The reporting of needs as a result of flooding continues until today, as do other ongoing unmet needs and requests for support.
Finally, in this reporting period we see a low rate of replies from organisations back to communities, coupled with a large number of pending requests for organisations to sign up to Loop. This might be due to a need for stronger investment in onboarding of organisations, trust building and incentives to engage with mechanisms that are not their own.
Also, worryingly, 48% of sensitive reports that are referred to organisations, have not been acknowledged by simply confirming receipt of the referral by the specialist focal point of that organisation. This lack of acknowledgement is predominantly for corruption and general protection referrals but also for GBV and Child Protection cases. This might be due to the more complex and generalised nature of corruption allegations or general protection issues, the widespread scale of the reporting of corruption or if responsibility to respond sits with different functions. We would love to work with organisations to find ways to improve this area specifically and what role can Loop play in that.
We are however pleased to report that we see immediate confirmation of receipt for all urgent sensitive cases and SEA reports. We also continue to see successful assistance referrals, with all survivors reporting a positive supportive experience from these referrals. GBV referrals are made via a phone call to the GBV actor who can immediately confirm if they can receive the referral. This helps to ensure quick and positive responses. For the SEA referrals there was a strong, informed and professional response which is likely to be the result of investment and preparedness in this specific area.
Trends between July and December 2023
The feedback coming into Loop started to increase in August after the radio announcements about the Right to Receive Aid for free by UNICEF. This lasted for 8 days but the feedback continued to come in from around South-Central Somalia due to information about the Loop platform being spread by word of mouth.
Now in December Loop moderators handle 1000s of stories every week. Many of these are poor audio quality or do not meet Loop’s community guidelines. Each staff member moderates on average 100 stories a day. In this reporting period, Loop published 550 posts on the open platform. Based on the trend in communities’ use of Loop and our growing team of moderators to manage the feedback each day, we expect to be posting that many pieces of feedback each month in 2024.
In this same time period Loop received over 152 sensitive reports on different topics including: SEA; Corruption such as aid diversion of cash assistance and the sale of nutritional supplements, expired medications and food items; GBV cases; discrimination, including exclusion of minority and disabled groups; and numerous general protections request due to the floods.
64% of all feedback received were from males, and many users did not share their age.
7% of feedback was recorded by people older than 60, including some recorded by or on behalf of 80+ year old people.
Looking at the data, only 1% of reports came from people who identified themselves as members of the minority community. We expect that this is significantly higher however because Somalis often do not self-identify as being from a minority group in surveys etc. For example, we see some reports coming from people saying that they did not get Aid because their family is not employed by those employed by the organisations or those in power.
Those who self-report as being from a minority group, tend to be men who are reporting on behalf of a larger community of minorities (see below example).
During the last 6 months, Loop has trained eight minority-led organisations in South Central and we have a joint project in 2024 funded by the Humanitarian Grand Challenges in partnership with the Minority Rights Organisation and minority-led civil society organisations in Somalia to support minority-led organisations to use Loop as a tool to gather data and advocate for their needs in real time.
2% of feedback came from persons living with disabilities (PLWD) including seeing, hearing, and taking care of oneself. In addition, some people reported that they were taking care of PLWDs. Loop would like to do outreach and offer further awareness raising and training to organisations in Somalia who work with people living with disabilities. This will help those organisations to get timely and specific qualitative and quantitative data to support their programs and advocacy work.
Feedback on the Open platform
Loop posted on the open platform 550 pieces of feedback from the community in Somalia in the reporting period July to December. All feedback was recorded via Loop’s Interactive Voice Response and Reply (IVRR) technology which is available free of charge for communities across Somalia. Noteworthy, Loop received additional 4 pieces of feedback from Somali people in Ethiopia who requested support after hearing about Loop through the announcements.
With Loop becoming accessible to people across the whole of Somalia in late November, some feedback is already coming from Puntland and Somaliland even though no advertising or awareness raising has taken place. Many people who use Loop do not yet mention where they live.
Figure 4: Feedback July to December, in Somalia by Region.
As expected, the majority of feedback in this reporting period is coming from recorded locations in the South-Central State, including: Banadir, Middle Shabelle, Gedo and Galmudug where there are also the highest recorded rates of need, according to the UN assessments. This is expected because it is the only place where Loop has been advertised and available for 2023 due to ongoing negotiations with Mobile Networks to enable integrations across the main providers. We expect that feedback from the communities in Puntland and Somaliland will increase in 2024 especially with more community awareness and partnership with key actors in these areas as well as more engagement with local organisations.
Figure 5: Feedback July to December in Somalia by Sub-Region
Figure 6: Feedback July to December, in Somalia by Sub-Region (map)
Organisations using Loop
Loop moderators use two main sources for tagging organisations on the open platform. The first one is using the organisations mentioned by the user and, if s/he does not mention any organisations, the moderators use published clusters’ matrices to determine which organisations to tag that can support in the thematic and location mentioned. In other instances, such as specific distributions, Loop moderators tag the known organisations who are leading on those distributions.
If the organisations are already registered on Loop, they will be automatically notified as soon as the feedback is tagged. If the organisation is not yet registered on the platform, then Loop moderators identify the relevant organisation and invite staff to sign up and respond directly. The benefit of a staff member quickly registering on Loop for free, is that it enables them to be notified immediately if they get feedback on the platform and also that if they reply, their feedback is noted as being from an organisation, giving it more credibility.
To date 15 organisations from Somalia have registered on Loop, representing 22 people. We have another 33 organisations through 57 staff contact details, that we have found on the website or through matrix mapping. The Loop moderators have sent them emails inviting them to 1) reply to the authors and 2) to register for ongoing notifications. 57 invites are still pending.
Over the past months, Loop tagged 53 organisations in different pieces of feedback. We also invited many to the platform and met with some of them to facilitate their engagement with the community. 17% of feedback was replied to by organisations which is consistent with the percentage of responsiveness from other community feedback mechanisms in Somalia such as the CCCM Zite Manager.
Loop continues our outreach efforts to encourage organisations to sign-up and engage with the community to increase this rate. We attend cluster meetings and present on a regular basis. We offer onboarding and online training sessions to support. We are available by email or WhatsApp to answer any questions in English or in Maxatiri or Maay for local staff if needed. We have documents and resources to use and can provide advice on communications or awareness raising assets if organisations would like. We share newsletters, reports such as this one, and always invite people to register or to contact us for more information. This will be an ongoing commitment that can be supported by other actors in the sector as well.
Loop is interested to work with CCCM or others and discuss with a variety of different organisations about how to make it more efficient and valuable to organisations to reply to communities. What can Loop do to improve the flow and value add to incentivise increased closing of the feedback loop.
Analysis of feedback
People in Somalia contacted Loop to give feedback on services: 20% of feedback contained thanks and another 16% had come from people who had concerns about aid. The vast majority, 79%, was for requests for aid and 4% were questions.
A huge spike in feedback was seen in November and December during the El Niño floods which left thousands of families in need of immediate support. Requests for food items was the most requested type of support.
In 21% of the feedback received, people shared their gratitude for the services they received from the aid organisations. The common theme across these stories is the expression of gratitude and thanks towards various aid organisations that have provided support and assistance in different regions of Somalia. The community thanked organisations such as Save the Children, UNICEF, FAO, Northern Frontier Youth League (NoFYL), Loop, Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Centre for Peace and Democracy (CPD), and others. They appreciate the financial assistance, food aid, shelter, and other forms of support provided during challenging times, including floods, heavy rains, drought, and displacement.
The community also acknowledges the impact of these organisations in improving their lives, especially during difficult situations. They expressed gratitude for the efforts made by these organisations and requested them to continue their support to the community. Additionally, some individuals share specific messages of thanks to Loop for providing a platform to voice their concerns and appreciation.
Despite facing challenges such as floods, displacement, and food insecurity, the overall tone of the messages is one of appreciation and acknowledgment for the assistance received. The community thanked the organisations that have made a positive difference in their lives.
4% of people contacted Loop to ask questions about aid encompassing a variety of topics such as delays or interruptions in financial assistance, questions about the suitability of nutritional supplements, seeking a better understanding of Loop's service and how to use it. Questions were also about aid distribution by organisations and inquiries about the status of a project following an assessment or a survey. The messages highlight the importance of responding to questions to enhance effective communication between the community and the aid agencies.
79% of feedback received in the reported period was requests from the community for all types of support across all thematic areas. The needs of the community were consistently about food, cash, livelihoods, as well as sustainable employment or income generating activities. Then follows shelter, healthcare, non-food items and education.
During the drought and then the rainy season, those needs became more pressing due to scarcity of food and water; loss of livelihoods, homes, farms and livestock; lack of sanitation and the spread of disease as well as reporting of destroyed essential infrastructure such as roads, latrines and water points. All these experiences were raised by communities on Loop.
The urgent nature of the needs resulted in people contacting Loop to request immediate and urgent assistance. People shared that there were deaths and that many vulnerable people including elderly, single mothers, families with many children, PLWDs and orphans are feeling the hardship more than others and require immediate assistance.
The lack of response to urgent pleas for immediate assistance, especially during the worst weeks of the floods resulted in many people recording follow up messages expressing their frustration and requesting feedback to their initial messages. We saw that it was more difficult to contact people back due to damaged infrastructure, mobile network issues and access to power to recharge phones being more difficult. In such cases Loop is now responding to the individuals directly to manage expectations and to explain the role of Loop and feedback.
We would like to do some community meetings and prototyping to improve the messaging and communications linked to Loop so people are more aware of what to expect and how to use it most effectively.
16% of feedback was concerns about the services of the aid sector. People recorded concerns about the distribution of aid, including delays in receiving cash transfers, discrepancies in aid provision (what they had expected based on assessments vs what they received), concerns about expired vouchers, difficulties in renewing them, and challenges in being included on beneficiary lists.
Others expressed concerns about aid distribution practices, alleging unfairness, nepotism, discrimination against and exclusion of minority communities, unwarranted delays and lack of transparency which makes aid not reach the most vulnerable.
In recent weeks, some people appealed for their concerns to be shared with accountability agencies and international aid organisations to ensure fair treatment.
Feedback from Younger People
4% of feedback received was from teenagers between the ages of 14-17 with most of the feedback being requests for jobs and aid. Others expressed their gratitude for the services of organisations.
Loop also receives a number of prank calls from children each day, laughing and singing for example.
Aggregate Trends in Sensitive Reports
The data shows that Loop received 152 sensitive reports in the reporting period; those are either tagged sensitive by the community or by Loop’s moderators. Sensitive reports fall into four categories:
Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA)
Protection (including child protection, Gender Based Violence (GBV), general protection, housing, land and property, etc.)
Other (service-level complaints)
Loop received SEA, GBV (rape and attempted rape), child protection and other general protection reports such as requests for urgent food and cash assistance, medical and legal assistance. The largest type of feedback received by Loop is different types of reports about corruption including aid diversion, nepotism, discrimination, distribution of expired foodstuff and medicines, and retaliation against complainants from the community, etc.
Figure 12: Sensitive Reports July to December, in Somalia by Type of Allegation
Demographics and Location
As is the case with the open platform, more sensitive reports are made by males than women, and most do not mention their age.
Figure 13: Sensitive Reports July to December, in Somalia by Gender
Figure 14: Sensitive Reports July to December, by Gender and Age
The different types of sensitive reports came from both males and females, including SEA and the most sensitive GBV reports (rape and attempted rape).
Figure 15: Sensitive Reports July to December, by Case Type
The most sensitive reports (SEA, child protection, GBV and corruption), which are 93 reports, came mainly from South Central regions with Hiran having the most reports, followed by Middle Shabelle, Banaadir and Lower Juba. Although Loop has only recently expanded to other states and hasn’t done any awareness raising in these areas about the Loop free call number, 2 sensitive reports have already been received from Somaliland, from the Togdheer and Sool regions.
Figure 16: Sensitive Reports July to December by Location and Case Type
Out of the 152 reports, 28 were closed and not referred due to complainants being unreachable for over 2 weeks or due to them not allowing Loop to contact them back and no further action being possible with the information shared.
Trends in Sensitive Feedback
The patterns in the sensitive feedback we continue to receive have the following main themes:
A wish to remain anonymous and a fear of being identified by the implementing organisation. This supports widespread findings and research about the Trust Deficit in Somalia as well as our experiences to date.
The majority of the reporting is now about Corruption/ Aid Diversion and General Protection. Despite an increase in overall reports, there was an overall reduction in SEA and GBV reports in the last two months. To continue to get SEA and GBV reports in, we believe that there needs to be ongoing messaging to communities about their rights and how to report safely.
A fear of further marginalisation if they report sexual abuse to a hospital or other official actor. We have seen people reporting into Loop during their time of crisis looking for alternative safe options for them.
Responsiveness to requests for information about very specific information: ie: Is RUTF - Ready to Use Therapeutic Food being sold?
Reporting is coming in about a wide range of different organisations. It appears that Loop is spread by word of mouth across and by communities. This is unlike in other countries where feedback is often in response to a direct request by an organisation about a specific project or action.
Referrals for Accountability
Loop referred 107 reports to different organisations. The below graph shows the types of organisations, at the aggregate level, who received the reports, by whether the referral was successful or not. Loop defines successful referrals (66) as referrals that were acknowledged, this can include whether feedback on topline assessments and decisions was relayed to Loop or not. Unsuccessful referrals (41) means that the reports were not acknowledged by the recipient organisation including after reminders were sent.
We can see that based on our data to date, Networks, INGOs and NGOs are the most responsive by percentage of successful referrals.
Figure 17: Sensitive Reports in Somalia, by Type of Organisation
The below table shows the type of sensitive feedback referrals and the responsiveness of organisations.
Figure 18: Sensitive Reports in Somalia, by Case Type and Referral Status
It is good to see that SEA reports received immediate and active follow up. This is likely due to the investment in this area.
We see low rates of reply to General Protection and Corruption allegations. Often the cases do not fall neatly into a single person's remit or clear protocols. Loop would like to develop simple one page guidance on what would be expected, based on global standards and best practice to support referrals and those receiving them about responsibilities and next steps.
Four serious referrals such as child protection and GBV were not acknowledged by the recipient organisations, even following reminders and follow ups. Loop discusses with the survivors about different approaches to take and escalates where possible.
It takes a considerable amount of time and human resources for Loop staff to follow up with communities and with organisations about the status of the referrals.
Referrals for Assistance
Loop made 53 referrals for assistance in the reporting period; 14 of which were referred for immediate assistance. All referrals for immediate assistance were acknowledged and actioned and recipients of the assistance were satisfied with the services they received. NGOs, INGOs and the Ministry responded to the immediate assistance requests.
Loop refers the cases which require immediate assistance by phone, resulting in speedy follow up and documentation. We have also noted that some organisations do not refer between each other, so if a survivor requires further assistance or of a different type not provided by the first organisations they will report this to Loop to then make a second referral. While this has worked in Somalia, it is not the normal process in other countries.
Figure 19: Assistance Referrals, in Somalia by Urgency of Referral
The majority of other referrals (36) for assistance (requests for financial, food, medical and legal assistance) were not acknowledged, yet organisations may have provided assistance without informing us. The other 17 were for Medical Assistance, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support, Economic or Legal assistance.
Figure 20: Assistance Referrals, in Somalia by Feedback from Actor.
Finally, out of 66 successful allegation referrals made, Loop received feedback on 12 that resulted in investigations of which 11 were closed with different outcomes (withdrawn, substantiated, unsubstantiated, etc.)
Scale of Sensitive Feedback at the end of 2023
By the end of 2023, Loop is receiving on average 5 sensitive reports per day. Loop immediately tries to contact the authors back to request consent for referring their Personal Identifiable Information on to relevant focal points. A large number of these, after 10 days, are not reachable. When this occurs the Sensitive feedback lead shares anonymised information with the relevant organisation to be able to use the information where possible. If the author is then reached, and consents to share additional information then the Loop Sensitive feedback leads follows up with the organisation.
We also receive some feedback which has been tagged as sensitive by authors, but which is not sensitive. Loop needs to continue to do some more work to improve messaging about the role and functionality of Loop to communities and to organisations.
Coordination and Engagement
Loop and CPD have worked in many different ways for improved brand recognition and to become a trusted community feedback channel both within the community and the aid sector. To achieve this, Loop engaged with many local and international organisations to introduce Loop, its mission, added value and to find ways for it to integrate as smoothly as possible with other mechanisms and data sources.
Loop works closely with UNICEF, the PSEA Network and the CEA TF on projects to increase awareness, reporting and accountability to the affected population. Loop and CPD, in partnership with UNICEF completed phase 1 of the Community Voices project aimed at raising awareness amongst the community and UNICEF’s downstream stakeholders on the importance of accountability.
Recently, Loop joined the Disability Inclusion Working Group and will look into ways of improving access to Loop by this segment of the community.
In October and November, Loop, in partnership with UNICEF under the Community Voices Project, trained 60 Ministry of Health, NGO and INGO staff (24 females, 36 males) in Jowhar, Cadale and Mogadishu about how to promote, respond to and use the data on Loop.
In addition, Loop did in person and online training in Maxatiri and Maay for 8 Minority Led Somali Civil Society Organisations and 4 other international and national organisations in South Central Somalia.
Loop is also an active member of the CEA sub working group on Collective Feedback Mechanisms, called “The Interoperable Aggregated CFM” to better align all mechanisms and ensure enhanced accountability, referrals and closing of the feedback loop.
Loop continues to be supported by the Kulmis Project, within the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC). The Loop open data is integrated within their information management Platform and communities first hand feedback compliments other data sources such as food basket prices, literacy levels etc.
Priorities and Plans for 2024
One of Loop’s areas of focus for 2024 in Somalia will be on engaging with actors who are most likely to respond to communities. We have learnt that getting feedback and sensitive reports from communities is easy. Communities have access, share about the platform through word of mouth and are even quick to respond to requests for information. However, this goodwill can easily be undermined if organisations do not reply to them with relevant and timely information.
Loop will reach out to diaspora organisations, organisations working with PLWDs, and minority-led local organisations to introduce Loop as a tool that they can use to raise the voices and experiences of their communities, respond to them and use the data in their advocacy and influencing work.
We see a positive engagement from some of the organisations we have already on-boarded, with some already replying to open stories. Loop received a few requests from minority organisations to learn more about Loop’s services and are setting up online training and onboarding.
We will also work to try to integrate Loop into programs, and projects by organisations from the beginning. This should help with increasing response rates to feedback. We will continue our efforts to work on engaging organisations to improve responsiveness to sensitive reports and on Loop’s open platform, especially now that people in Somalia are becoming more aware of their rights through the efforts of organisations and coordination bodies such as UNICEF, the RMU and the PSEA network.
Loop is working with the PSEA network on new radio messaging to raise awareness across Somalia about people’s right to get aid for free and about the ability to report SEA through Loop. We hope to see an increase in reporting and efficient management of SEA and GBV cases. We know Somalia is a high-risk context, with limited reporting to date, so an increase in reporting should lead to an increased focus on response and protection mechanisms.
A second objective is to add more languages on to the platform to increase our added value and inclusion of populations across all of Somalia.
If funding is approved, CPD and Loop plan to recruit Somali University students who are fluent in minority target languages, to join the CPD/ Loop fellowships. This is an onboarding mechanism and will help to address the issue we have had with recruiting minority language speakers as moderators. We have had a number of rounds of recruitment and found it hard to recruit Somalians with the ability to read and write in English and in Maxatiri, speak a minority language, as well as have skills in technology and detailed analysis for moderation. With the fellowship we will be able to onboard people who do not read or write in English and can have time to test their ability to pick up the technology skills required for the full-time function. This will support the moderation of the 1,000s of stories coming in per week, a number we expect to grow as more organisations continue to raise awareness about Loop’s toll-free number across all of Somalia and especially with more local organisations engaging with Loop.
A third wish for 2024 is to find funding to pilot and develop a way to integrate Loop into Post Distribution Monitoring of cash projects in Somalia. The technology exists in Loop to get feedback across the digital and literacy divides, we just need to integrate it, automate it efficiently, and do some user testing on the most effective ways to request feedback post a cash or voucher distribution for a variety of different groups across Somalia. CPD has many cash projects, and we would start with a pilot attached to an existing cash project and then expand to other actors looking for improved accountability and engagement following every cash disbursement (PDM).
Last but not least, Loop and CPD need to find a financially viable and sustainable financing model to maintain Loop as a public good and enable us to cover costs with running the platform and covering Mobile Network and moderators’ costs as the scale and type of feedback ebbs and flows. Loop and CPD are charities and the collective platform offers a low-cost collective solution that can complement services across Somalia. As a collective tool we need to find a collective funding solution that will invest in an improved independent and locally owned approach to accountability across the Somali Aid system.
We look forward to 2024. We thank our existing partners SDC, Particip, UNICEF and the SEA and CEA task forces. We are open to broad and deep partnerships with organisations and actors, to help find ways for the diminishing Aid funding to reach further, more effectively and more accountability, protecting and serving the most vulnerable across the whole of Somalia.