5 minute inspiration: How peace returns in Somalia

by 15th Dec 2020
A woman talking in a classroom at an IDP camp in Somalia A woman talking in a classroom at an IDP camp in Somalia

“Initially, we opposed and resisted the [displaced people] from being settled in our community land. [These] are people who came in with nothing and wanted to use and enjoy our local resources at the expense of our community. But with time, meetings between the refugees and local communities chaired by local leaders … peace has returned.”

That’s what one community leader has to say about the difference the Durable Solutions for Refugees and Internally Displaced People in Somalia (DSRIS) project has helped them make in their own lives. It’s hard to imagine a more powerful impact than that – peace returning. The project worked not just on peacebuilding, but also reducing violence, promoting education and health care, and improving access to water and livelihoods.

CARE ran DSRIS from 2017 to 2020 with $4.9 million from the European Union. It reached 90,000 people in three years. CARE partnered with Save the Children (SCI), Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), IMPACT Initiatives and Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC).

What did we accomplish?

Restored peace

On average, there was a 50% decrease in youth radicalisation and about 20% improvement in peace and community cohesion between the internally displaced people (IDPs) and host communities.

Children got a better education

School enrolment doubled. Now, 88% of boys and 90% of girls are in school, compared to 40% at baseline. Not only are children in school, they’re also learning more. Average learning scores went up 8%.

Children are healthier

82% of people say they see a significant improvement in children’s health. 23% reported increased vaccination rates.

Health services are better

40% of people reported improved health services and 22% reported a reduction in communicable diseases. There was a 337% increase in patients accessing health services, with 23,507 patients getting care – both displaced people and host communities.

Better water is making a difference

60% of people say they have better health because of the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) components. 64% of respondents use soap when washing their hands compared to 35% at baseline.

Gender-based violence (GBV) services have improved

69% of people were satisfied with GBV services, and 1,433 people got access to services they didn’t have before. GBV responders have better skills to deal with parents of survivors who are reluctant to seek help.

People have more secure incomes and better opportunities

22% of people reported having access to microfinance and loan opportunities. 44% of VSLAs have improved profits and 19% are able to support their family basic needs.

Businesses are stronger

16% of village savings and loan assocations (VSLA) members are able to develop business plans, 8% are able to expand their business ventures, 7% are able to effectively market their products, and 6% are able to advance loans and credit to their fellow VSLA members.

How did we get there?

Match up supply and demand for education

To encourage teachers to stay active, the project provided a $100 per month stipend to provide quality education. At the same time, DSRIS reached out to 779 parents (457 female, 322 male) with campaigns on the importance of education to encourage them to enroll their kids.

Support local actors to take charge

DSRIS trained 168 community members in 24 communities on how to manage school performance. The project paired this with grants of up to $2,000 for community education councils in communities. They also trained 80 WASH volunteers, 10 Community Health Workers (CHWs), and 4 WASH committees to lead sustainable water systems.

Support soft skills – especially how to have hard conversations

DSRIS trained 1,146 community members (564 female, 582 male) to host conversations on peace education, leadership, and youth engagement with a focus on illegal migration and radicalisation.

Partner with civil servants

The team trained 87 civil servants who can now help other schools in addition to project schools. They also worked with 1820 GBV responders (1,216 female, 604 male) – like social workers, health volunteers, and police officials – to provide better services to communities and a better response to violence.

Help people build business skills

DSRIS helped set up 340 VSLA groups with 7,589 members, and included trainings on business plans and legally registering businesses. They also helped 916 people (564 female, 352 male) people complete technical and vocational training.

Provide resources

The project delivered 1,038 safe delivery kits and 115 education kits to health workers, as well as sanitary kits to 634 girls and 5,780 adults.

Build infrastructure

41,770 people got piped water, and the project built 110 latrines and 39 handwashing stations.

Aim for government ownership

The Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Labour and Youth Services, and Agencies for Water, Energy, and Natural Resources all worked with the project team to establish project initiatives and locations.

Want to learn more?

Check out the project evaluation.

The aim of the project was to contribute to the integration of internally displaced persons, returnees and refugees in Somalia by improving access to basic quality services such as education, health, hygiene and sanitation, child protection and gender-based violence (GBV) intervention. Additionally, the project aimed at enhancing relevant and sustainable livelihood opportunities for youth at risk of illegal migrations, radicalisation, as well as other vulnerable displaced people, returnees and host communities to enhance integration and social cohesion. The project was being implemented in Puntland, Bari, and Mudug (Bossaso and Galkacyo north districts), Galmudug, Mudug, and Galgaduud (Dhusamareb, Adaado, and Galkacyo south). The sectors targeted by the project include education, health, WASH, child protection/GBV, women and youth empowerment and integration.

Emily Janoch

Emily Janoch is Senior Technical Advisor on Knowledge Management for the CARE USA Food and Nutrition Security team focusing on ways to better learn from and share practical experience on eradicating poverty through empowering women and girls. She focuses on learning from programming and using that learning to improve impact.

With four years of on-the-ground experience in West Africa, 10 years of development experience, and academic publications on community engagement and the human element in food security in Africa, Emily is especially interested in community-led development. She has experience in food security, nutrition, health, governance, and gender programming, and has a BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago, and a Masters' in Public Policy in International and Global Affairs from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Email: ejanoch@care.org