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Conducting field work in Dollo Ado, Ethiopia

The project aims to improve humanitarian practice by developing an innovative intervention targeting intimate partner violence (IPV) among a Muslim refugee population and delivered in the context of a cultural or community practice.

IPV is hypothesized to be the most common form of gender-based violence in humanitarian settings, and has serious social, economical and health consequences, particularly in the context of displacement. This innovation will actively engage the targeted population within the Dollo Ado refugee camps of Ethiopia and assist them to question, challenge and transform norms that may lead to IPV.

Dollo Ado is a city within the Somali Regional government of Ethiopia housing more than 210,000 refugees originating from Somalia who are displaced due to conflict, famine and other issues. The camp is located in Southern Ethiopia bordering Kenya and Somalia. Within Dollo Ado region, there are five  refugee camps including our target camp, Bokolmayo.

Bokolmayo is located approximately 90 kilometers from Dollo Ado city. According to UNHCR’s April 2016 report, the total number of refugees in Dollo Ado refugee camps is 213,232 and in Bokolmayo camp there are 42,534 registered refugees residing in 8,640 households (54% female and 46% male).

The WAHA team conducted fieldwork in May 2016 comprising of

1) recruitment and hiring of a supervisor based in Dollo Ado

2) continued relationship building with UNCHR, ARRA and other implementing partners

3) community advisory board meeting

4) recruitment of data collectors

5) pre-testing of data collection instruments and methods.

Upon arrival, the WAHA team was warmly welcomed by Administration for Refugee/ Returnee Affairs (ARRA), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), implementing partners, and members of the host and refugee community. A community advisory board (CAB) is a critical component of our project. The CAB members include representatives from the refugee community, the host community, religious leaders, elders, clan leaders, community stakeholders and implementing partners such as Partnership for Pastoralists Development Association (PAPDA), ARRA and UNHCR. When CAB members are recruited in this manner, WAHA believes voices from all the group can be heard, valuable inputs obtained and acceptability of the project enhanced.

As part of the fieldwork, we hosted a half day workshop among the 15 CAB (4 female and 11 male) members. Religious leaders invited from both the host and the refugee community praised the project for its presence in the camp and indicated that although there were many efforts aimed at stopping violence from happening, violence between husband and wife is still the ‘norm’ in their respective communities. The camp religious leader indicated that clan and elders of the refugee community have established Sharia Court within the camp but are unable to satisfy conflicting partners all the time. There are a lot of couples fighting most often and wasting our time. I came to this meeting from mediating a couple and your [WAHA] presence I hope will reduce these efforts” said the Sharia Court leader.

Another representative from the Refugee Council Committee (RCC) (who is also a refugee) indicated she is a gender officer working for the refugee community and said that violence between couples is so common and requires an immediate solution. “I know the Sharia Court is doing a lot to mediate couples who are in a violent situation but this also requires a change in individuals’ mindset…”. Members of our CAB group indicated they are supportive towards  this project and some, like the RCC gender advisor, requested to be supported in their violence prevention efforts.

Our team successfully recruited a supervisor to be based in Dollo Ado who brings expertise and enthusiasm to the project. We also recruited data collectors and identified ways of strengthening research capacity. Our team conducted pre-testing of data collection instruments and methods to finalise the instruments and approach before the qualitative research, using focus group discussions and in-depth interviews. During the field work, we explored creative participatory methods that include free listing exercises and participatory community exercises. Pre-testing these data collection techniques and instruments allowed us to test the applicability, acceptability and comfort level of our target population and make required modifications.

Our next move is to begin to adapt lessons from the field visit, mainly on the data collection instruments, and to finalise the data collectors training, ahead of our next field visit in July/August.

Samuel Tewolde
Intervention Specialist for Emergency Operations