Somalia Acted

Mainstreaming Protection and Mitigation against Risk of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Somalia

In Somalia, Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is a major concern for women and girls, especially those most vulnerable. Furthermore, before, during and after disasters, women and girls’ vulnerability to GBV is heightened. In 2023, the Horn of Africa continued to experience extreme climatic shocks caused by the worst drought in decades and once-in-a century floods due to exceptionally heavy rainfall linked to the El Niño phenomenon. At least four million people in Somalia are facing crisis or emergency food insecurity between January and March 2024, and over 1.17 million people were affected by the recent floods. In IDP camps, inadequate physical infrastructure; long distances to water points, markets, health facilities and schools; poor lighting at night within the camps, and lack of gender-disaggregated sanitation facilities are some of the major factors that increase GBV exposure and risks. The recent climate shocks amplify many of these issues.

Acted, through its 12-month project funded by the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), has been at the forefront of providing crucial humanitarian services and information management in 70 IDP sites across the country. Within this programming, and in close coordination and collaboration with the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster as well as protection actors, Acted ensured protection mainstreaming throughout the project implementation. The measures adopted in the program include enhanced referral pathways, safety audit assessments and further mitigation measures. The measures enhance identification and monitoring of risks and vulnerabilities specific to IDPs, especially those related to risks of GBV for women and girls. If a case come to Acted’s attention, Acted informs the survivor on the referral network in the area and, in line with their wishes and based on availability, refers them to available specialized agencies and healthcare facilities. Following safety audit findings and recommendations, Acted implements site improvement measures where such resources are available and advocates with the humanitarian community to implement activities that improve the safety and security of residents in targeted sites. For example, following a safety audit in Kismayo, Baidoa, Afgoye, Buuhodle and Laas Caanood districts, Acted constructed 10 gender-segregated latrines in five different IDP sites as part of this project to ensure access to functioning and safe sanitation for all. Furthermore, Acted distributed 187 solar lanterns and is currently installing 15 solar streetlights in the districts of Kismayo, Baidoa, Afgoye, Buuhodle and Laas Caanood in Somalia to mitigate against the risk of GBV towards women and girls and to more generally improve the safety and security of residents at night.

Safety audits help to create a safer environment for women and girls

In November 2023, Acted conducted a first safety audit assessment with a total of 120 participants in 15 IDP sites in Laas Caanood and Buuhodle districts.

 

While conducting the safety audit in Alaley* camp, Laas Caanood district, the Acted CCCM team collected a testimony from the parents of two young girls, who revealed to be survivors of sexual assault. The Acted CCCM team informed the parents about the referral pathway and the confidential support services available through agencies that are specialized in accompanying GBV survivors.

 

In order to overcome cultural barriers Acted refers the cases to another organization, which is a trusted protection stakeholder focusing on GBV. The organisation provided immediate psychosocial support and cash assistance as part of the protection response.

Thanks to the support from Acted, our voices were finally heard. They not only listened to our struggles, but also referred us to a protection agency. Alight's support to my child has been a lifesaver.

Mohamed*, the father of one the survivors

The girls’ journey to recovery is underway and despite the difficulties, the initial steps have been transformative. With the support of the organization they were referred to, the two girls are receiving individual therapy, learning about coping mechanisms, and rebuilding their sense of self-worth. The parents of the survivors expressed their heartfelt appreciation for Acted’s and Alight’s support throughout the referral process.

Acted and its partners are committed to strengthening and enhancing referral pathways in Somalia. The identification program is innovative and allows GBV and protection cases to be identified through various channels such as community outreach programs, field visits, complaint feedback mechanism desks and hotlines or direct reports from survivors and/or community members. This identification process contributes to the effectiveness of the program despite considerable cultural and social norms that form barriers against GBV risk mitigation. Once identified, cases are referred to dedicated and specialized agencies that accompany survivors to address the issues that they are struggling with.

In all target areas of the project

8
rounds of safety audit assessments were conducted
63
flood protected and gender segregated latrines were constructed
23
flood-protected latrines were rehabilitated
60
street solar lights were installed in Acted managed sites
770
HHs received portable solar lanterns
  • Somalia ranks 4th last on the UNDP Gender Inequality Index
  • Women and children represent almost 80% of displaced people nationwide
  • 60% of IDPs reported in the 2022 MSNA that new IDPs were not aware of any services for women and girls in their communities
  • 33% of women and girls do not feel safe moving in their sites; and 65% are at risk of GBV

*The name and the location have been changed to protect the identity of the beneficiary.

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