Dauud Farah Mohamed is a 43-year-old livestock farmer and father of five who lives in Biyacade village located in Eyl district, Nugal in the coastal region of Puntland. He makes and sells bricks to support his family. A few years ago, his worst fear was a family member falling ill because it would be difficult getting to the nearest hospital.
A few years ago, the entire community used to travel a long distance to Garowe, about 240km away. This was an expensive and dangerous journey for pregnant women and people with severe illnesses.
Now, patients in the Biyacade village seek treatment in Eyl District Hospital which is much nearer compared to Garowe. The distance between Biyacade and Eyl is approximately 30 kilometres. Before the resurfacing of the road, the community suffered when they travelled along it because of the rough terrain which made travelling uncomfortable with occasional accidents caused by heavy vehicles. The unlikelihood of reaching the health facility safely created fear in the community. It was a time-consuming and difficult journey. Now, the terrain is very smooth, less time-consuming and safer for travellers.
The community had problems accessing the health facility because their road was in such a dilapidated condition. Children and women, especially pregnant mothers, were the most vulnerable when travelling on the road because it was so rough and bumpy.
To address these challenges and others faced by community members, the World Vision Somali Programme introduced a new model called ‘Citizen Voice and Action (CVA)’ which is a local advocacy programme that helps communities engage directly with government service providers to improve the quality of community services like health or education. CVA equips communities with simple tools to engage in non-confrontational dialogue with their government and agree on ways of improving services.
“The relationship in my community with the district and headquarter officials has become collaborative and impactful.” The Village Chairman explained. “We now focus the advocacy initiatives of demanding change in the service delivery. The mayor welcomed our initiatives of road rehabilitation. We don’t get tired of serving the community because it’s vital and rewarding”.
Through the CVA approach, World Vision conducted CVA training for various community committees in Biyo-Addo village to enable positive communications and negotiation skills, which resulted in improved service delivery through advocacy and lobbying of the government officials in an amicable way.
Dauud was among many other community members trained on how to play an active role in starting constructive dialogue and action for better service deliveries in Biyo-Addo village, which he used to positively influence how services are delivered to his community.
“We met with the community and discussed challenges that need immediate actions, most of them agreed that the roads in the village are in bad condition, posing a big challenge to vehicles on transit, and delaying major commodities from leaving and entering the village.” said Dauud. “We agreed on an action plan. Contribution in terms of money or livestock was voluntarily collected from every adult in the community and the government to repair one of the roads. I was tasked to lead the collection process, which took one month.
“As a result of the collection, we managed to tarmac 2 kilometres of the road with concrete. For those who were not able to contribute cash or livestock, they were given a chance to help in construction. This was great achievement and we realised we can make changes if we continue working closely with each other and with governmental leaders. Now we all have something positive and useful we can take pride in, that we created together.”
The CVA committees are established to educate the community on existing policies and to encourage them to actively participate in solving issues that affect them whilst collaborating with the government and other stakeholders through the process. These committees have made great strides by mobilizing the community to carry out several drives to influence the government to respond to issues that affect them.
Another social benefit that has boosted community collaboration on issues affecting the well-being of children is promoting hygiene and sanitation by clearing and collecting rubbish from the village’s main water source. This initiative has improved community hygiene and has protected the community from diseases and infections. This programme has equipped community members with skills and information on how to advocate for their own rights. It has enabled them to be more self-sufficient and live more sustainably. The main objective of CVA is to encourage on-going government accountability for service provision. Communities are empowered to engage directly with the government so that they depend less on aid from organizations like World Vision to intervene on their behalf. This helps the community sustain long-term health standards and child well-being.