When do emergencies improve tech savvy?

18% of people in Somalia’s Emergency response used phones for the first time. Find out how.

In addition to a food crisis, refugee situations, conflict, and climate change, people in Somalia had to learn how to use cell phones and mobile money for the first time. Instead of finding this an additional challenge, they loved it. For them, this felt safer, easier, and faster. Besides that, it allowed them access a hotline for complaints, so they felt more ownership of the project.

Emergency Food Assistance for Somalis was funded from 2017-2018 with $5.5 million from USAID’s Office of Food For Peace. It reached 13,882 households.

What did we accomplish?

  • Families have more food: 95% of families said that it was easier for them to purchase food and to meet all of their family’s food needs.
  • People have better connectivity: 18% of people in the project, including 1,849 women, got access to a SIM card and mobile technology for the first time. 9,162 people used mobile money who had not before.
  • Businesses prospered: 67% of shop owners said that CARE’s program encouraged them to use mobile money, and that they saw a 50% increase in mobile money at their shops.
  • People feel safer: community members feel that mobile transfers are easier, faster, and safer. Mobile money transfers allow them to get money without other people targeting them as a result.
  • Families and communities got more peaceful: 95% of people say the relationships within their families got better, and 91% said community relationships improved.

How did we get there?

  • Use mobile money for cash transfers: the project transferred $5.2 million directly to families—about $1,500 per family over the life of the project. 95% of families spent money on food, 66% on medical care, and 55% on water.
  • Support technology: This is the first aid project in Somalia to use mobile money, set up when mobile coverage was only 62%. When they recognized that many families couldn’t access mobile money, the project gave out SIM cards and help families set up mobile money accounts. That’s not a total solution, though. 71% of people say connectivity and power are still barriers—and women feel less confident than men when using their phones.
  • Adapt to the situation: the project adapted the amount of money it was giving based on the changing situation over the life of the project, to make sure that families could covered their needs.
  • Be transparent, let others lead: In the words of one participant, “CARE works in an open and transparent way. We trust them very much. They allow us to lead our development.” The project set up a complaints hotline for people who had feedback.
  • Use surge capacity, start up fast: the project rolled out activities 14 days after we got the approval from FFP because we could bring surge staff in from other projects.
  • Be consistent: the project developed sector guidelines for staff in CARE so we can be sure that we’re applying all of the tools fairly across communities.

Want to learn more?

Read the final evaluation and the After Action Review.