More camp residents call humanitarian hotline in Darfur
A pilot by the United Nations and NGOs that allows displaced people to report issues such as broken water pumps or closed schools in camps for internally displaced people, is receiving an increasing amount of phone calls from Darfuri in need.
The ‘hotline’ is an effort by the United Nations humanitarian office (OCHA) and collaborating NGOs in Darfur to improve the quality of their response to gaps in basic services in West Darfur state. Using a mobile phone, camp residents can dial 1391 free of charge to report any issue or gap identified in the main humanitarian sectors. On 6 May 2015, OCHA reported in a press statement that a consistent increase in the number of calls was received over the past year.
The project covered all five states of Darfur by March 2014. People living in camps can call for water, hygiene and sanitation issues (such as latrines); health (clinics); food security and livelihood (vaccines); nutrition; and education.
When a call is received, the OCHA ‘Referral Officer’ records the complaint, verifies it with camp and community leaders and other partners on the ground, and then notifies the Sector Lead agency . The aim is to respond to gaps concerning the existing services, the humanitarian office stressed, not to address new needs.
A study revealed that the hotline covered 71 locations (camps and gatherings) across Darfur, representing a total of some 1.6 million internally displaced people. Since the roll-out in September 2013, a total of 180 ‘gaps’ were reported through the hotline, water and hygiene problems being the primary ones (84).
Forty-five gaps in emergency shelter and non-food items were reported by camp residents who dialled 1391. 23 health, 9 education, and 9 food security and livelihood gaps were reported.
The service is supported by the three main mobile operators in Sudan (Zain, MTN, Sudani) and the National Telecommunication Company. Awareness campaigns were conducted, first in West Darfur, then across the entire region, through videos, leaflets and posters, live demonstrations and info sessions in schools and clinics. However, many people still resort to the traditional complaint channels of community leaders and sheikhs.
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