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Description

Advantages

Disadvantages

Standard Kits

 

Carefully designed and prepared in advance, standard kits are typically developed based on past experience. A quantity of these kits are sometimes available in large emergency prepositioned stocks, and occasionally large international NFI vendors sell pre-made kits.

 ◊ Quick response:

  • Ready to use, no assembly needed
  • Pre-positioned (locally, regionally or international)

 ◊ Quality guarantee: the items have been subjected to a strict procedure including market survey, tender.

 ◊ Not always adapted to local customs. People may find themselves with material they do not know how to use, and therefore the reason for distributing the articles is not covered

 ◊ Some articles may turn out to be culturally inappropriate.

 ◊ Some items are not essential, so people will sell them on the local market.

Kits locally assembled

 

Locally manufactured - agencies must identify the appropriate local suppliers, assemble and pack kits as needed. The main advantage is that they can better meet the needs of the population taking into account current requirements and cultural habits.

 ◊ Highly customisable in terms of items included, packaging and labelling.

 ◊ More economical: limited or no transportation costs.

 ◊ Adapted to local customs.

 ◊ Beneficiaries are more likely used to the core component products.

 ◊ Time consuming: Search for suppliers for the various items (market survey, tender) Assemblage of the kits.

 ◊ No guarantee of quality.

 ◊ No guarantee of quick supply in case of emergency.

 ◊ Often not possible to find all the items locally.

Adapted from Pocket guide NFI Distribution, MSF

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In the days before the distribution, implementing organisations think about how they are going to set-up and manage the distribution in a manner that is effective, efficient, safe, and respectful of the needs of beneficiaries.

Approach

The decisions made regarding the distribution approach should take into consideration the information provided by the assessments about needs and size of beneficiary population, including: the types of beneficiaries being served, the number of beneficiaries being served, the existing coordination and community leadership structures, the population literacy level and the security and access situations in the area.

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Few distribution points

Many distribution points

Advantages

  • Need less staff.
  • Less infrastructure, sites, distribution structures, roads.
  • Less transport required for distribution.
  • Fewer crowd control problems.
  • Easier access for women.
  • Shorter journeys home.
  • Beneficiaries can see the distribution taking place.
  • Special arrangements easier.

Disadvantages

  • Longer journeys to the households.
  • Potential crowd problems.
  • Difficult for beneficiaries to see the distribution.
  • Difficult access for weaker groups.
  • More staff and transportation needed.
  • More structures, roads, access, cleared sites needed for distribution.

UNHCR

Location

A range of factors will determine the location and number of distributions centres. They include the number of refugees and the number at each site, their locations and the distance between each location, and the availability and location of resources such as storage sites.

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Ideally, distribution points should be located far away from crowded areas such as markets or hospitals, in enclosed areas such as schoolyards that enable the distribution team to control entry and exit, and avoid over-crowding. Distribution teams can also create their own enclosed sites with stakes and rope or other local materials, in which aid agencies may have to invest in additional crowd-control staff to ensure order within the site. Distribution points should never be in the vicinity of military barracks or facilities, nor should they be in locations that force beneficiaries to travel to or through highly militarised areas.

Organising Distribution Sites

Distribution sites must be constructed in such a way that distributions and the collection of commodities can be carried out safely, efficiently and in an orderly way. UNHCR recommends at least one distribution site per 20,000 individuals and two distribution staff per 1,000 beneficiaries, not including monitors or security staff. 

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  • Secure enough to ensure that items are not stolen or misappropriated.
  • Near to water points and constructed with separate latrines for men and women.
  • Big enough for on-site commodity storage and shelter for queuing during delays or rain.
  • Near to rest facilities for distribution workers.
  • Constructed near to vegetation or trees, which provide shade and act as windbreaks.
  • Provided with chairs or benches for persons unable to stand in line.
  • Be safe for women and children.

Site Lay Out

The lay out composition of a distribution site will depend on factors including the available terrain, the weather forecasted for the distribution day, the distribution system, the size of the affected population, the available permanent structures. Every distribution site must have:

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1. Facilities
2. Beneficiary Waiting Area
3. Registration Area
4. People With Special Needs (PSN) Protection Desk
5. NFI Distribution Area 
6. Complaints Desk

7. Entry Points

8. Exit Points
9. Male Line
10. Female Line 
11. PSN Line


People with Specific Needs (PSN)

An extra effort must to be made to assure the distribution is accessible for all beneficiaries and that any potential special needs are covered. Beneficiaries with special needs may include older people, small children, those with impaired mobility, or breastfeeding mothers among others that could require any other special assistance or at risk.

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Distribution area with pull carts to assist PSN reach their home location:


Distribution Teams

The size of a distribution team should be linked to the size of the distribution. Generally, the larger the distribution, the larger the team. At a bare minimum, distribution teams should contain the following:

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The hand over of food or commodities is a highly sensitive moment, especially if it is not well managed. The staff must to be familiar with the general distribution organisation and understand his/her roll, be able to answer questions or how to redirect them, and be instructed to know what to do in case of running problems or major incidents. The staff working on the front line or dealing directly with beneficiaries must to receive specific training.

Pre-Positioning Supplies

Sufficient commodities for the distribution ideally should be pre-positioned in the distribution enclosure the day before distribution. The pre-positioned quantities are based on prior calculations based on the number of beneficiaries to be served and the ration agreed upon. Up to 5% extra commodities should be pre-positioned to allow for damages, mis counting or additional beneficiaries. 

Communicating with Beneficiaries and Host Communities

Providing the intended beneficiary population with full information before distribution Is the key to a successful, problem-free distribution.

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  • Distribution is free of charge.
  • How refugees can report any abuses by the staff who manage distributions.
  • Who will receive the commodities that are to be distributed, and selection criteria (if relevant).
  • What items refugees are entitled to receive (quality and quantity).
  • When distributions will occur (date and time).
  • The location of distribution centres and the areas (populations) that each will cover.
  • How distributions will be organised and how those who receive distributions should behave.
  • The purpose and use of the items distributed (to avoid misuse or undesired effects).
  • When future distributions are planned, and their frequency, so that refugees can plan ahead.

The Day Before the Distribution

Prior to the launch the distribution, the team needs to ensure that all structures, commodities and equipment are in place and that operating procedures are clear; this can help to expedite the distribution process and reduce the chances of disorder or problems at the site.

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Once all the members of the distribution team are in position on the day of distribution, all possible questions or concerns from staff are addressed, the commodities are in place and beneficiaries have been assembled in the waiting area, the distribution can begin.

Registration/Verification

The first step during the distribution is the registration and control of beneficiaries. Registration is the stage where intended beneficiaries are confirmed as eligible. It is also the moment when the distribution team can ensure the distribution is documented and that the resources distributed have an identifiable beneficiary at the end of the chain.

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  • Manual Distribution Lists
  • Distribution Cards
  • Biometric/Digital Control

Manual Distribution Lists

Largely used for small to medium sized distributions in “one shot” interventions designed to tackle a specific need. This methodology consists of the collection and registration of beneficiary information manually on paper using a standard form to capture basic data. This simplified process facilitates the implementation and flow of ad-hoc/first time distributions, however, all the information gathered has to be cleaned and processed manually at a later stage; as manual registration is prone to human error, the monitoring/reporting process may become cumbersome. 

A manual distribution list will likely only contain beneficiary names and some household information, but no quantitative way to track individuals. Ideally, beneficiaries should produce some form of ID to match the list, but this is not always possible, especially in the early stages of an emergency. The manual list method also frequently utilises fingerprints or a signature as verification source, which cannot be verified in real time and largely can only be used for resolving claims of fraud or misuse after the fact. 

Distribution Cards

Distribution cards are commonly used in camps or in situations in which cyclical distributions are common. Distribution cards are also useful when the beneficiary list is consistent. This methodology utilizes the creation and distribution of cards made from plastic or some other durable material. To facilitate this, organisations involved with distribution will intentionally identify Individuals or families who frequently receive distributed items though a formal registration process, and provide each individual or family with a distribution card. Distribution cards might includes a serial number or ID code that refers to specific households containing all the information gathered during registration. The serial number or ID codes and correlating beneficiary information are maintained in separate system, usually an electronic database through which numbers can be quickly searched. Paper lists might be used in some situations where a computer database isn't accessible, but it is important that paper lists contain ID or serial numbers, and that data captured at the point of distribution is re-entered into a database later.

While a card system will require some investment on databases as well as time to gather information, prepare, issue and distribute the cards, this methodology greatly facilitates the registration process, especially if the card can be read by a bar-code or similar machine. Cards should ideally be accompanied by another source of verification at the time of distribution to assure the beneficiary identity.

Biometric/Digital Control

Biometric registration refers to the process of tracking recipients of distribution using unique biometric features of individuals. Biometric features might include fingerprints, eye, or facial features, all of which is automatically captured by recognition software and lined to the individual with a server-based database of beneficiaries. A biometric database might even be used at different geographic points if the beneficiary is migrating or mobile. While many biometric tracking systems are still developing due to high levels of sophistication and data management required, the use of this technology is increasing. A biometric system not only reduces input and duplication errors, but they also facilitate update, back-up, reporting, monitoring and auditing controls.

In order to prevent duplication and omissions of records, it is preferable that the registration and verification take place at the same time, assuring a proper segregation of duties between different parties. Programs with limited staff will often combine the process of collecting, processing and verifying registration data into one team. To minimise data manipulation and fraud, however it is important to segregate these tasks.

The staff responsible for registration/verification must assure the following steps:

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  • Define roles and tasks (data collection, data cleaning, data processing and backing-up) in standard operating procedures (SOPs).
  • Train teams on all elements of the participant registration process: data protection principles, informed consent and workflows.
  • Explain the registration objectives and highlight any data security risks and mitigation strategies.
  • Introduce SOPs and applicable protocols.

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In order to prevent duplication and omissions of records, it is preferable that the registration and verification take place at the same time, assuring a proper segregation of duties between different parties. Programs with limited staff will often combine the process of collecting, processing and verifying registration data into one team. To minimise data manipulation and fraud, however it is important to segregate these tasks.

The staff responsible for registration/verification must assure the following steps:

  • Train personnel involved in registration process, define team composition and division of tasks, consider potential challenges between the information collectors and respondents (such as language barriers and gender norms).
    • Define roles and tasks (data collection, data cleaning, data processing and backing-up) in standard operating procedures (SOPs).
    • Train teams on all elements of the participant registration process: data protection principles, informed consent and workflows.
    • Explain the registration objectives and highlight any data security risks and mitigation strategies.
    • Introduce SOPs and applicable protocols.
  • Conduct a post-training skills check and address any knowledge gaps.
  • Monitor the registration process and provide mentoring and feedback. At the beginning of the registration process, teams should regularly check the quality of data collected (i.e., blank fields, differing usage) to identify any gaps.

Manual Distribution Lists

Largely used for small to medium sized distributions in “one shot” interventions designed to tackle a specific need. This methodology consists of the collection and registration of beneficiary information manually on paper using a standard form to capture basic data. This simplified process facilitates the implementation and flow of ad-hoc/first time distributions, however, all the information gathered has to be cleaned and processed manually at a later stage; as manual registration is prone to human error, the monitoring/reporting process may become cumbersome. 

A manual distribution list will likely only contain beneficiary names and some household information, but no quantitative way to track individuals. Ideally, beneficiaries should produce some form of ID to match the list, but this is not always possible, especially in the early stages of an emergency. The manual list method also frequently utilises fingerprints or a signature as verification source, which cannot be verified in real time and largely can only be used for resolving claims of fraud or misuse after the fact. 

Distribution Cards

Distribution cards are commonly used in camps or in situations in which cyclical distributions are common. Distribution cards are also useful when the beneficiary list is consistent. This methodology utilizes the creation and distribution of cards made from plastic or some other durable material. To facilitate this, organisations involved with distribution will intentionally identify Individuals or families who frequently receive distributed items though a formal registration process, and provide each individual or family with a distribution card. Distribution cards might includes a serial number or ID code that refers to specific households containing all the information gathered during registration. The serial number or ID codes and correlating beneficiary information are maintained in separate system, usually an electronic database through which numbers can be quickly searched. Paper lists might be used in some situations where a computer database isn't accessible, but it is important that paper lists contain ID or serial numbers, and that data captured at the point of distribution is re-entered into a database later.

While a card system will require some investment on databases as well as time to gather information, prepare, issue and distribute the cards, this methodology greatly facilitates the registration process, especially if the card can be read by a bar-code or similar machine. Cards should ideally be accompanied by another source of verification at the time of distribution to assure the beneficiary identity.

Biometric/Digital Control

Biometric registration refers to the process of tracking recipients of distribution using unique biometric features of individuals. Biometric features might include fingerprints, eye, or facial features, all of which is automatically captured by recognition software and linked to the individual with a server-based database of beneficiaries. A biometric database might even be used at different geographic points if the beneficiary is migrating or mobile. While many biometric tracking systems are still developing due to high levels of sophistication and data management required, the use of this technology is increasing. A biometric system not only reduces input and duplication errors, but they also facilitate update, back-up, reporting, monitoring and auditing controls.

Any time biometric data is used to track beneficiaries, organisations should consider social and political implications of biometric tracking, and place protection concerns at the highest level. Information that can track an individual across multiple locations and time can also be used to target vulnerable persons, and may be the subject of scrutiny by law enforcement, armies and even non-state actors. Before implementing a biometric registration process, agencies should consult with protection professionals about concerns, and with local government bodies about laws governing gathering biometric data. 

Safety

Security measures used in a distribution should be defined according to the risks involved. These risks can go from small robbery to large scale coordinated attacks and the same activity in different places will have different risk factor.

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  • The first layer of a security mitigation measure is community involvement: it is key to have local leaders supporting to spread the distribution rules and criteria. Communicating with Communities (CwC) teams also play a critical role in informing people about the activities and criteria of assistance.
  • The presence of security forces should respect a strict progressive use of force approach when managing crowds. Force should only be applied when absolutely necessary, and in accordance with the level of threat.
  • Have a prepared contingency plan and an evacuation strategy.
  • Information is key: good visibility and constant community engagement help to keep people under control, especially in the case of shortages or changes in the food basket or distribution systems.
  • Mind people’s minimum comfort needs: water, shade, access to sanitation.
  • Appoint one person to be responsible for security decisions on the spot. Make sure that all other staff are aware of which person it is. S/he should be easily visible.
  • Provide staff with communication means like radios, whistles or establish another method to signal an emergency.

Complaint/Feedback Mechanism

It is important to acknowledge beneficiaries' concerns and complaints while referring those with specific problems to access the distribution services.  A system must be in place, ensuring that it will be possible to keep records of complaints and those are addressed accordingly. A help-desk should be visible and be accessible without impediments, but at the same time ensure privacy and personalised support keeping it away from the waiting area. It is advisable as well to appoint a representative from distribution committee in the help desk. Any help desk should be able to converse in the language of the recipient population, and ideally be taken from the local community

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