By Jephiter Tsamwi- Advocacy and Communications Manager- Adeso


Hamda Hersi- Program Coordinator- Adeso

Across Somalia, the ongoing devastating drought, along with conflict and internal displacement, has continued to affect over 7 million people, with more than 1 million children at risk of acute malnutrition due to extreme levels of food insecurity. As this tragic cycle of famine and drought continues, we cannot keep doing the same thing, implementing the same responses to emergencies, and expecting different outcomes. We must define our humanitarian response around dignity, capacity, and strengths within the community.

Contrary to traditional humanitarian response approaches that neglect the power of locals to address their own challenges, Adeso has launched an innovative community led approach that is uplifting communities in Somalia. Adeso’s Somalia team recently came together in Garowe to participate in a codesign workshop, funded by the Legatum Foundation, on survivor and community-led response (sclr)/ saxansaxo- an approach that provides an alternative to how emergency aid is delivered by shifting power to the local communities.

With the empowerment of communities in Somalia in mind, the team adopted the term Saxansaxo as an alternative to sclr. Saxansaxo – pronounced [sa-han-sa-ho] -is a term used by locals in Somalia to describe the sweet smell that lingers in the air, and the feeling of the light wind in the moments just as the first raindrops hit the ground after a long period of dryness. For pastoralists in Somalia, they immediately recognise Saxansaxo as a guaranteed sign that heavy rainfall will follow. Rain signifies hope, prosperity, abundance, food, water; it signifies that good things are on the horizon. Through Saxansaxo, with both staff and communities unlearning the way aid has traditionally been delivered for the past three decades in Somalia and the dependency it has caused, it will show that communities will always work together to support each other.

In emergency contexts, there are always local community groups (structured or unstructured) working together to develop solutions, to support one other, and to try to survive. Local communities are the “first on the scene”. These are the groups that sclr partners with. They know their needs. They know who to help. They know what needs to be done. All they need is the resources and support to scale it up and this is where sclr steps in.

As an approach to delivering aid, sclr/saxansaxo, acknowledges communities as local responders and seeks to build on local capacity, and knowledge systems, rather than disempowering them and viewing them as helpless, and unconnected victims with no power to organize themselves.  The approach recognises communities’ power to develop solutions that are tailored to meet the actual needs of the most vulnerable in their localities. By doing so, this approach removes aid dependency syndrome which has characterized humanitarian settings in most developing countries. Sclr builds on the foundations of community and collective compassion whilst rejecting the notion of individualism.

Through sclr, Adeso will provide small grants to communities, increase the impact and sustainability of crisis-affected people’s initiatives to help each other to survive, recover with dignity, and to start addressing root causes of vulnerability. This provides a sustainable opportunity to boost the local people’s capacity to address challenges they confront while at the same time promoting ownership in designing and implementing initiatives targeting their respective communities. The process is simple, flexible, and cuts out the bureaucratic middleman that often slows down humanitarian responses.

The term sclr is deliberately lowercase; it is not an ‘official’ approach with strict guidelines that the local implementing organization should follow, rather it leaves room for an alternative word in the local language that describes what it truly is.

Saxansaxo represents Adeso’s commitment to decolonize aid.

To learn more about how you can get involved, please contact Stephanie Heckman at