Building a community center to facilitate community information sharing

Baidoa currently hosts the largest IDP settlements in South-Central Somalia, as a result of the protracted conflict and consecutive shocks that caused internal displacements.

new households
new IDP camps

The majority of people fled their areas of origin due to drought and conflict, choosing Baidoa town as a hub for safety as well as for access to humanitarian assistance.

I came from Koban, a rural village in Bay region. I left due to the prolonged drought, the bad economic situation and recurrent conflicts.

Mursal, camp leader at Badbado IDP site

Prior to this intervention, there were no meeting halls and so the camp residents did not have a central area to converge and share the views, opinions and concerns. There was also lack of decent space where the communities and partners could freely interact. The women within the camps did not have a voice to air their opinions. But the community center was thought to be the most appropriate, safe and neutral area to meet their needs.

ACTED supports displaced populations through Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) programming, with financial support from the Somalia Humanitarian Fund. ACTED ensures there is coordination with the relevant partners, local authorities, that there is no gap or duplication of activities and that minimum standards are met. Our teams also circulate the information collected with the community through information boards and community meeting. Similarly, field workers are improving the living conditions and safety at the camps through site improvement and maintenance activities, improving the knowledge of the community by providing capacity building camp management committees and local authorities. As part of its CCCM activities, ACTED recently constructed a community center, which allows easier access to crucial information for camp residents.

Community meeting hall, ACTED Somalia 2020

Bringing services and information sharing closer to people’s settlements

As a part of the initial stage, ACTED consulted the communities to acknowledge that there was a lack of a communal area where information can be freely shared. Also, a key priority for the community was the construction of a place where people could meet. The aim here was to create a space where people would not have to walk long distances to attend training or coordination meeting with partners and local authority – knowing that such meetings were crucial for communities to air their views, opinions and complaints. Finally, through the community, local authorities and other organizations recognized the gaps in humanitarian needs.

Based on these outcomes, and with an overall aim of improving coordination and information sharing with the community at site levels, ACTED constructed a community meeting hall in Badbaado IDP site (Baidoa). The center is used by all partners working in the sites, during partner meetings, community and local authority consultation. Some of our partners, such as Save the Children, IOM, World vision or WOCCA were very pleased with our work to create a new space for communities in the region.

People no longer have to walk long distances to meet, and information sharing is deeply improved as groups like youth, women and other civil society now have a voice and can represent a wider community.

ACTED staff interviewing a camp leader on the importance of the community center, ACTED Somalia 2020

ACTED constructed this community center to enhance access to information in more accessible site, facilitate coordination among partners, local authority and increase community awareness on complaint and feedback response mechanism as well as referral pathways. It gave the community an avenue to discuss their priority needs during the consultation meetings.

Abdi, project manager for the CCCM project in Baidoa and Sanaag regions

Improving the life of beneficiaries

The construction of this community center has created an open pathway between partners, communities, elders and local authorities for communicating their views and opinions. The center has created an inclusive environment where women now have an avenue of airing their opinions without being vilified by the communities. It has further facilitated access to information for the community and also among the partners and local authorities. Through this, ACTED has established a concrete relationship with not only the community members but also the local authorities.

Since then, the community has reported increased access to information on services provided by the various partners, where to seek those services, access to complaint and feedback mechanisms available, referral pathways for gender-based violence survivors among the partners and coordination at site levels.

The center has also created community integration from various sites to sharing information among themselves and with partners. The coming together of the communities from the different sites has improved inter-cluster coordination, community cohesion, accountability and roles and responsibilities.

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