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Somalia Country Office Annual Report 2020 Through our programing, we have been able to deliver emergency life-saving service to more than three million people in Somalia.

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Note from the Country Director, Mohamed Mohamoud Hassan

On behalf of the Save the Children Somalia team, it gives me great pleasure to share with you our Country Annual Report for 2020. Last year, the economic impacts of COVID-19, an erratic Gu rainfall season, desert locust upsurge, flooding and Cyclone Gati increased the level of vulnerability and the severity of food insecurity across Somalia. Notwithstanding the enormity of the challenges and a complex operating environment, Save the Children was able to consistently meet its operational and program quality targets throughout the year, and delivered programs for children worth $ 116.8 million, the second highest dollar value we have ever spent in a single year in Somalia.

Across all of our programming, Save the Children reached 3,351,091 beneficiaries directly, of which 50.5% (1,693,559) were children, through our programming in child survival (health, nutrition, WASH), education, child protection, child poverty reduction, and child rights governance across the humanitarian-development nexus. This represents an 18% increase from our 2019 reach (2,739,501), largely attributed to the significant scale up in 2020 of our education and child survival portfolios. In addition, 4,641,211 people (66.4% children) were reached indirectly, predominantly through our countrywide Risk Communication & Community Engagement (RCCE) in the COVID19 response and Social Behaviour Change Communications (SBCC) in other right-based projects.

In Save the Children supported communities, our programs contributed to a 46% increase in deliveries by skilled health care providers and improved utilization of vaccine service with the proportion of parents vaccinating their children increased to 83% from 60%. In our education programs, 77% of learners attained the minimum proficiency in literacy-reading, writing and comprehension and Child Sensitive Social Protection increased school enrolment to 94%. Humanitarian cash transfers increased food consumption and diversification whereby households with ‘poor’ food consumption scores reduced from 34% to 19% after four transfers. Our work with parents resulted in a reduction in the corporal punishment of children from 74% (2018) to only 10% (2020) in our target locations.

Our programs were further complimented by achievements in our advocacy work, including support to CSO delegates and children to attend the UNCRC pre-session and articulate their concerns on the situation of children to the Geneva-based Child Rights Committee of Experts. We continued to roll out a comprehensive and ambitious research, evidence and learning agenda to inform project design and implementation to enhance the quality and impact of our programs, as well as influence wider policy and practice.

These achievements would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of our 550 staff across the country, who continuously go above and beyond to support the most marginalized and deprived children in Somalia; as well as the generous and continued funding of our donors, the unwavering dedication of Civil Society partners, and the strong leadership of the Federal Government of Somalia, Federal Member States and the respective line ministries.

I send my heartfelt appreciation and gratitude to all of you; only together can we ensure every Somali child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. I am confident that we can achieve even more together in 2021.

Highlights towards Breakthroughs

Our ambition for 2030 is to create a world in which all children: Survive: No child dies from preventable causes before their fifth birthday; Learn: All children learn from a quality basic education; Are Protected: Violence against children is no longer tolerated.

Our bold ambition builds on 100 years' experience of bringing communities, civil society, governments, businesses and donors together to achieve lasting change for children. We believe this is the only way that we can inspire real progress and breakthroughs in the way the world treats children.

SURVIVE

Key Highlights

  • SC provided comprehensive support to 2,851 MOH staff across 234 fixed public health facilities and 162 mobile sites.
  • A total of 2,935,649 people, of which 47.4% were children (487,544 boys and 529,983 girls), were reached with various live-saving health and nutrition interventions.
  • We put more than US$22 million directly into the pockets of those most in need throughout 2020.
  • 95.5% of beneficiaries reported increased access to quality drinking water.

Integration of cash with child survival remained a critical intervention package in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life in preventing long-term damage from undernutrition and giving strong start in life. This is guided by selection criteria that require the targeting of PLWs and children under 2 years of age. Various cash transfers, food distribution and livelihood promotion programmes directly benefited 598,484 people, of which 368,530 (61.5%) were children. Specifically, we scaled up our cash programming by 350% between February and June and we put more than US$22 million directly into the pockets of those most in need throughout 2020. With a focus on food security, and labelled for food, cash transfers increased food consumption - households with ‘poor’ food consumption scores reduced to 19% after four transfers from 34% - and dietary diversity for children to 3.6 food groups (out of 8 food groups) compared to 2.3 foods groups prior to distribution.

Case study: Vaccination Saves lives, the Story of Maryam.

The increased reach from 2019 can be attributed to Save the Children’s increased focus on accelerating the roll-out of ‘Saving New-born Lives’ and ‘Treating Children Close to Home’ Common Approaches. SC continues to work closely with MOH to scale up Integrated Community Case Management (ICCM) of common childhood illnesses, whereby we expanded ICCM coverage from 80 to over 200 remote villages and communities. Furthermore, the integration of Community based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) into ICCM (known as ICCM Plus) is progressing well, with all simplified protocols, training materials, and tools, including one adopted for COVID19 response, were developed and translated into Somali language using User Centre Design. We also increased our focus on accelerating immunization activities to reach newly liberated communities (in areas previously without access to immunization due to Al Shabab occupation). SCI reached 17,851 children aged 0-23 months in those areas with vaccination (who could have otherwise not had access to vaccination). Our involvement in an assessment to understand the dynamics of immunization service delivery and determining barriers to immunization was a key contributing factor to securing Gates Foundation (BMGF) funding, through which, in partnership with WHO, UNICEF and the MOH, SCI is implementing accelerated immunization activities in newly liberated areas in Jubaland and Galgaduud regions. This provides a strong foundation for further initiatives in 2021, including to rapidly increase reach of immunization to zero-dose children and the introduction of the Pneumococcal Vaccine (PCV) in Somalia for the first time, potentially saving thousands of children’s lives every year, since GAVI finally announced that they would remove the ‘70% coverage threshold’ eligibility barrier.

As part of COVID-19 adaptation, SCI continued to provide supportive supervision to health workers using digital platforms, as well as facilitating remote trainings using various platforms. Health workers were also equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) materials as well as handwashing materials. Community health workers were trained and supported on COVID-19 prevention measures using insights from COVID-19 RCCE studies. Indeed, the COVID-19 response presented an opportunity to change our current approach to Behaviour Change Communications, which was typically very one-way and top-down. We commissioned Busara, an institution known for its behavioural science experts, to identify barriers to behavioural change and re-frame and pre-test COVID-19 messaging and channels. The study has been completed and the implementation of Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) plan will begin in 2021, targeting COVID-19 initially, but in the long run the approach will be adapted to other programmatic interventions which would require community engagement and behaviour change, such as breastfeeding, hand washing practices, health seeking behaviour, or tackling harmful social norms and practices.

Save the Children constructed and rehabilitated 52 boreholes, provided water trucking to 35 health and nutrition centres, constructed and rehabilitated 1,122 gender segregated latrines in health facilities, IDP camps and host communities; and conducted trainings and hygiene awareness raising activities, overall benefitting 1,422,058 people with improved water, sanitation and hygiene. As such, 95.5% of beneficiaries reported increased access to quality drinking water, with 73% reporting that they now walk for less than 500 meters to reach the nearest water point, and 85% of beneficiaries knows the five critical times for handwashing, a remarkable increase from 22% at the baseline (2019).

Case study: Communities in Usgare Village Access Clean Water after Prolonged Drought.

Over the course of 2020, SCI updated HEA baselines for five livelihood zones across Puntland and Somaliland. Government, partner and Save the Children staff spent 150 days speaking with 4,000 people across 57 settlements spread over 9 regions to build the data required for comprehensive baseline updates. Save the Children plans to work with other organizations in Somalia to fully maximize on HEA as a foundation for early warning of acute food insecurity, triggering early action, response planning, and contingency planning in 2021

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Learning

Key highlights

  • Save the Children in collaboration with the MOE, supported 1,486 primary schools, 51 secondary schools, 131 Alternative Basic Education (ABE) centres, and 8 Early Childhood Education centres. Thereby, benefitting a total of 319,478 people, of which 295,486 were children (56.3% boys and 43.7% girls).
  • A total of 4,025 primary school teachers (72.3% male and 27.7% female) were supported.
  • 77% of learners (80% boys; 74% girls) assessed using the EGRA tool attained the minimum proficiency in literacy-reading, writing and comprehension.
  • 3,770 adolescent girls and boys and young men and women (59% female) throughout Somalia received technical and vocation education and training (TVET), entrepreneurship or other economic empowerment activities.

Somalia has about 4.5 million school-aged children. Of these, only 35 per cent of girls and 41 per cent of boys are enrolled in school, which means about 3 million school-aged children are out of school. Our education program is centred on three pillars of increasing equitable access to education, improving the quality of education and learning outcomes, and improving the efficiency of the MOE through capacity building and systems strengthening. SCI, in collaboration with the MOE, supported 1,486 primary schools, 51 secondary schools, 131 Alternative Basic Education (ABE) centres, and 8 Early Childhood Education centres. Thereby, benefitting a total of 319,478 people, of which 295,486 were children (56.3% boys and 43.7% girls) in urban, peri-urban and rural areas, including 1,019 children with disabilities. Low attendance is exacerbated by increased stress on the family during drought, floods, cyclone, locust or conflict-induced crisis, which lead to harmful household coping mechanisms. Therefore, our cash programming also support educational outcomes for children, whereby recipients of Child Sensitive Social Protection (CSSP) receive nudges encouraging expenditure on education alongside their unconditional cash, and as such allocated an average of 22% of their transfers to children’s education, accounting for the second largest household expenditure after food (53%). This programme has also increased school enrolment to 94%, up from 27% at baseline (2018), with a transfer of only USD20 a month.

To improve quality, a total of 4,025 primary school teachers (72.3% male and 27.7% female) were supported with in-service and/or pre-service trainings, and top-up incentives to motivate them. In addition to supporting teachers, SCI supported the MOE through different needs-based capacity building trainings, systems strengthening, including policy development, reviews and dissemination, curriculum framework development, textbook printing, MOE infrastructure development and financial support. As a result, 77% of learners (80% boys; 74% girls) assessed using the EGRA tool attained the minimum proficiency in literacy-reading, writing and comprehension.

As a result of COVID-19 school closures, SCI worked closely with the MoE, policy makers and education cluster members through various technical working groups in designing context appropriate response strategy, which was informed by the Somalia Country Office response strategy and SCI global guidance on education adaptations. For our education program to continue and sustain learning, the need to design and roll out alternative learning methods was crucial to continue learning, especially as distance/remote learning is still nascent in Somalia, with no existing curriculum/syllabus or program design experience. The education team actively engaged as a member of the task forces established in the respective MOE to design a blended online and offline learning approach to address both rural and marginalized children with no access to internet, as well as those who has access to online learning. This included training of teachers on the distance learning approach, developing the learning content, recording radio programs and the production of online videos, partnering with media houses and telecommunication companies/platforms to disseminate the content. This included teachers recording radio programs and the production of online videos. The learning from these online and offline delivery methods can be further used as an alternative approach to complement the face to face school-based learning in the future. Once schools re-opened, the education team, in coordination with the MOE and communities, ensured schools have received the basic materials required for safety and conducted intensive community awareness and back-to-school campaigns and as a result, achieved a return to school enrolment rate of over 80%.

Whilst Somalia has signed the Safe Schools Declaration there is still a need to ensure proper implementation of preventive and mitigating measures to keep schools safe across the country. Progress towards our CSP milestone on ECE has remained a challenge. In addition to lack of prioritization by donors and Government, COVID19 related school closures delayed the start-up of ECE pilot projects. However, with schools re-opened, the construction and furnishing of 10 new ECE centres is being completed and enrolment will begin in the new school term, which will provide a solid foundation for evidence-based advocacy in 2021.

Watch Halima's story: developing alternative learning ways during the pandemic.

More than 3,770 adolescent girls and boys and young men and women (59% female) throughout Somalia received technical and vocation education and training (TVET), entrepreneurship or other economic empowerment activities, such as savings and loans groups. Enterprise based training (EBTVET) was subject to government closures for private sector entities, but less affected than institute-based training (IBTVET) which faced temporary closures across the board. Save the Children co-organised and co-hosted the first National Employment Conference together with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in Mogadishu. The conference was attended by 100 participants from the federal government, member states, private sector including labour unions and innovation hubs, universities, TVET centres, Civil Society Organisations and representatives from UN agencies, including ILO and UNFA. This conference resulted in the government and Save the Children committing to build an innovative Employment Service Centre that will deliver employability services such as job matching, start-ups, training and more to youth seeking jobs.

Hani's* Case story: Adapting School Curricular for the pandemic
My favourite subject in is Mathematics. I want to become a medical doctor. The reason I want to become a doctor. When I see medical workers, I dream to be like them. I want to help our people and nation.
When I first heard about Corona virus, it was in the TV news. I didn't take it very seriously. The next day, I went to school and the teachers told us. There is a pandemic that is affecting the whole world. The virus is called Corona Virus. Later, I also learned that it is known as Covid-19. The school had to be closed because of the spread of the virus. As part of the project (Education Cannot Wait) we have received awareness raising messages.
We were told to avoid crowded places, reduce travel plans that are not necessary to us, and to wash our hands regularly. “I want to request for support to our teachers’ salaries. I also wish to request support for families that are not able to pay school fees (for their children). This will help them provide school uniforms and other school materials.

Be Protected

The protection rights and needs of an estimated 3.2 million people, of whom 64 percent are children, and 48 percent are women and girls, are affected by armed conflict, violence and destitution triggered by climatic shocks, including prolonged drought conditions and floods.

Key highlights:

  • We have reached 150,264 direct beneficiaries under our child protection and child rights programming of which 74,388 (49.5%) were children (of which 50% were girls).
  • 31% parents reported positive discipline practices and 62% declared positive caregiver-child interaction
  • reduction in the incidence of child labour in beneficiary communities from 26% (2018) to 13% (2020) and a reduction in the corporal punishment of children in beneficiary communities from 74% (2018) to only 10% (2020). Let’s change the sub-heading ‘Additional learnings to note through the year and towards planning your 2022-24

In 2020, SC adapted and modified various child protection interventions to the COVID-19 restrictions and guidance to reach 150,264 direct beneficiaries, of which 74,388 (49.5%) were children (of which 50% were girls). Child Protection (CP) services provided included direct case management support and referrals for vulnerable and at-risk children, child friendly spaces, and child resilience building activities and PSS support. During school closure the CP AoR reported an increase in child protection violations, specifically FGM and sexual assault. The CO adapted the programme to disseminate parenting messages through the radio and door to door awareness raising on CP/GBV messages and parenting guidance on MHPSS and positive discipline.

In addition, Save the Children made significant strides towards the roll out of the Parenting without Violence (PwV) Common Approach to create violence-free households. As a result of completing the program, 31% parents reported positive discipline practices and 62% declared positive caregiver-child interaction and 84% of the parents highlighted that they have positive attitude of disciplining the children by using different approaches. Most significant was the 31% decrease in men’s preference to punish children physically. The lesson learnt is that the success of PwV can be attributed awareness raising in the community alongside the enhanced capacity of Child Welfare Committees (CWCs) to reinforce the messages.

Unconditional cash transfers accompanied by training on parenting without violence and child wellbeing targeting 400 households in Hargeisa (Somaliland) have demonstrated strong protection outcomes, including reduction in the incidence of child labour in beneficiary communities from 26% (2018) to 13% (2020) and a reduction in the corporal punishment of children in beneficiary communities from 74% (2018) to only 10% (2020). 400 parents and 400 children were trained in Hargeisa. Children were also empowered with information on their rights and what to do when they have been abused. A recent review revealed that 50.4% had knowledge and skills to report when they / their friends are abused, 11% increase in self-esteem, and 98% indicated they had a supportive school environment, which was an 11% increase from baseline (87%).

Community based protection structures were also capacitated to provide a protective environment for children with more than 85% of SCI-supported CWCs assessed having formal governance structure with clear roles and responsibilities to protect children from abuse, exploitation, and violence. To achieve real change at the household and community level to eliminate harmful traditional practices such as Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), early marriage and GBV, SCI successfully built the capacity of 711 religious leaders, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to advocate for improved gender equality and women empowerment whilst being conscious of cultural and religious stigma, who subsequently have played an instrumental role in educating their communities, and positioned religious leaders as role models to be emulated by the community members. The training sparked 30 committed Sheikhs to form a Religious Leaders’ Network, an engine of social mobilization for the wider community for all anti-GBV campaigns.

Following a successful submission of the CSOs alternative report on the implementation on UNCRC in Somalia in December 2019, SCI joined CSOs delegates to the UNCRC pre-session in February 2020, the first time CSOs in Somalia had the opportunity to articulate their concerns on the situation of children to the Geneva-based Child Rights Committee. SCI also facilitated the participation of children in a virtual consultation with the Committee. SC also led the mobilization of national and international organizations on the submission of the 3rd Cycle of Universal Periodic Review of Somalia to the Human Rights Council, advocating for the prioritization of the most pressing rights of children in Somalia. This comes against a backdrop of limited implementation of the previous UPR recommendations and a legislative landscape with significant gaps in creating a conducive environment for the realization of the rights of children and women. Since 2015, a number of CSOs have been advocating for the enactment of legislation that will offer greater protection of women and girls in Somalia. Significantly, SCI mobilized national and international actors for joint advocacy and action against a new bill called the Penetration Act, which among other things, downplays child abuse and exploitation and offers no protection to sexual and gender-based violence, which resulted in the bill being stalled for further consultations.

‘Evidence & Learning’ 

Increased innovation and adaption: Whilst COVID19, its impact and the subsequent containment measures were a challenge, it also presented an opportunity for the Country Office to accelerate programmatic adaptations and explore innovative solutions to sustain implementation. For example:

• We leveraged our existing cash beneficiary database, which consists of pre-registered households that were selected within the last 6 months through a participatory community-based targeting process, and maintains information on household composition, demographics and vulnerability. The team re-verified households using trained community mobilizers with remote support from Save the Children staff and further verification via phone.

• To collect data for our COVID19 assessment, our REALM team provided remote training via Skype and Zoom to 100 data enumerators and provided continued support using WhatsApp and Skype. The enumerators, over 3 days, collected qualitative and quantitative data from over 3,500 people in our existing beneficiary database using phone surveys, entering quantitative responses straight into KOBO platform to facilitate data analysis.

• The education team actively engaged as a member of the task forces established in the respective Ministry of Education to design a blended online and offline learning approach to address both rural and marginalized children with no access to internet, as well as support virtual training for teachers.

Change with Children: To empower children to raise their voices, the ACCM team established and supported a network of strong child champions in Mogadishu, Garowe and Hargeisa. These champions have participated in Save the Children meetings and events, such as our child rights advocacy dialogue series and a meeting with SMT; having child-focuses programs on Radio Ergo and Africa Voices on the impact of COVID-19 on children; and at national, regional and global platforms on child rights. These engagements provided a solid opportunity upon which to consolidate and advance our child participation in 2021 and the CSP 2022-24 design.

Establishing a foundation for Disability Inclusion: The CO established a network of Disability Inclusion Champions who will promote awareness raising and support capacity building with staff; provided technical and financial to the Ministry of Women & Human Rights Development to conduct a rapid assessment on status of children with disabilities in Somalia and we are also in the process of conducting additional studies for 2021; and conducted training with staff and partner staff on the Washington Group Questionnaire, which enables us to collect and analyse data on disability, and Disability Inclusion training by Abilis (a global organization for persons with disabilities) to improve their understanding of disability rights and disability inclusion, and improve their ability to apply disability inclusive approaches in own area of work. The CO has recruited a Disability Inclusion Technical Specialist who will start in 2021.

Credits:

Save the Children