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Learning Series 3: lessons learned in Somalia

February 23, 2022
February 6, 2023

NEXUS is the only Somali led Consortium in Somalia and is made up of eight national NGOs.

As one part of a larger Localised Humanitarian Action program, funded by the Dutch Relief Alliance, NEXUS members wanted to explore using innovative approaches to receiving open honest collective feedback.

NEXUS subcontracted Loop to see if it could add value in Somalia.

Screenshot of many organisation logos

After months of listening to local people and user testing, with support from the NEXUS members and Zamid Consulting, we developed a minimal viable prototype. The prototype enables anyone to phone a free short code number, choose their dialect and listen to instructions on how to feedback.

They can provide their feedback at any time by voice message. Moderators then transcribe, translate, tag and post the message on the Loop platform and send a notification to the relevant organisation to respond directly and efficiently.

Loop moderates the feedback, posts it and sends a voice message back to the original author to pick up when they have mobile network and the phone charged, for free.

The data is available for analysing on the Loop platform across languages including Arabic, Somali Maxatiri and English (among others), in near real time.  The findings from this small scale couple of week pilot are explained below and on the following pages.

Access to Loop

During the testing phase WASDA and GREDO, two Somalia NGO's, used Loop in communities where they have activities.  They informed community members briefly about how to use Loop. Within the first 2 weeks 42 messages were received, but there were 54 messages overall, so people continued to use Loop to feedback after the pilot.

The findings from the user testing showed that:

  • Voice messaging in Somali needs to be in place to reach the substantial numbers of illiterate populations, especially among the rural communities.
  • Many didn't understand Somali Maxatiri so including the Maay dialect will reach more people.
  • Call centres have limited opening hours and offices can be hard to get to.
  • Due to Poor Network connectivity if feedback can be saved on the device and sent when there is connectivity it could add value.
  • Anonymity provided by Loop (not having to speak to someone directly) will help to address individual/ beneficiary fears of reprisal or victimization.
  • Loop, as a permanent service, could be an affordable cross project monitoring system as there are high levels of staff turnover and gaps between projects due to short funding cycles.
  • The closing of the feedback loop happens infrequently and could be enabled by Loop.
  • NEXUS members can use existing feedback/ monitoring and evaluation/ ambassadors and other groups and focal points to encourage people to feedback using Loop.
  • Finally, Loop could be used as part of Post Distribution monitoring system (PDM) of cash transfers, directly responding to the GSMA research which identified that there is a gap in feedback following electronic cash distributions. This could be automated through Loop in a cost-efficient manner, including longitudinal data.


Screenshot of Story type × author's age and gender

As the Story Type table shows, both Men and Women were comfortable using Loop. Feedback came predominantly from 30 to 59 year olds, with 12 people not stating their age.

No one reported as having a disability even though field staff reported that some did. This could be due to definitions, or trust in the tool.

No sensitive stories were reported during the pilot as this was not advertised as an option but it was identified in the user design phase as a significant advantage (to provide anonymous feedback at any time).

Screenshot entitled Stories and replies lead


Over 1,000 calls to the free phone line were received but only 45 got posted.  This is because people often hung up before completing their message, were testing the system, or expecting a person to answer them saying 'hello, hello...'.

On further questioning many field staff tested the number to understand it better before promoting it with the community.

Perceptions of Aid

54 of the 44 messages included saying thank you for the support received. From the very limited data, there was a pattern of requests for water. Eight stories included the word 'thirsty'.

This data, if used at scale, could have been an early indicator in October, for the emergency response being planned now in February 2022.

The concerns were all around the need for food and water, not concerns about the Aid provided.

Screenshot of a speech bubble containing text

Appropriateness of Aid

We do not have enough data to establish the appropriateness of Aid but stories were primarily about WASH, Food and Shelter.


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Funding was received from FCDO to build and integrate the Interactive Voice Response and Reply, that was designed in this project. This should be completed by April 2022 making it available in Somalia and Zambia.

The 6464 number is still operational in Somalia.

The Centre for Peace and Democracy, a Somali run NGO, and the co-founder of the NEXUS Consortium, has been identified as the host of Loop in Somalia from 2022 onwards. CPD is now responsible for hosting moderators and rolling Loop out across Somalia, including their own programs as well as the other NEXUS members programs and pooled funds. They will be making Loop available to other organisations to use, so that they can also hear from and be accountable to local people.

Graphic detailing the flow of interactive voice response and reply

Users of the Hormuud network can call Loop and leave a voice message for free using 6464.  The service is available in both Somali Maay and Somali Maxatiri dialects.  Please try it out.

For more information please email:

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