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.
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.
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
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%.
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.
‘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.