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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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Teams should be made up of both genders and be sensitive to the political context by trained and sensitised as well as informed and committed with applicable codes of conduct and protection measures. 

The hand over handover of food or commodities is a highly sensitive moment, especially if it is not well managed. The staff Staff must to be familiar with the general distribution organisation and understand his/her role, 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.

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  • Reach out to all different groups of the population using multiple channels of communication.
  • Particularly involve women and the distribution committees (if already in place) in order to avoid information going out only through the community leaders, who might have their own political agenda.
  • Use different methodologies and means such as meetings with groups of beneficiaries (including those at risk), posters and picture messages, information boards, radio, megaphone and others.
  • Use the local language and reach out also to those who are non-literate.
  • Allow them to fully understand the messages and give feedback.

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The Day Before the Distribution

Prior to the launch of 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.

The team leader must to ensure that everyone involved in the distribution knows their role, what is expected from them, and have an enough knowledge about the exercise itself. A briefing to the core team is mandatory, and detailed briefings should be given to specific staff, such as those persons involved with crowd control, registration team, or complaint mechanism.

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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 should be cleaned and processed manually at a later stage; as manual registration is prone to human error, the monitoring/reporting process may become cumbersome. 

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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 include 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.

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It is important to acknowledge beneficiaries' concerns and complaints while referring those with specific problems to access the distribution services.  A complaint or feedback system must be in place, ensuring complaints are recorded, documented and are addressed accordingly. A help-desk should be visible and be accessible without impediments, but also be away from the waiting area to ensure privacy and personalised support. It is advisable to appoint a representative from the 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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Following the full closure of a distribution, distributing organisations may want to start thinking about conducting a post-distribution monitoring (PDM) exercise in order to assess the effectiveness, appropriateness and coverage of the intervention, and overall satisfaction with the assistance provided. Ideally, PDMs should evaluate a single response about a month after the intervention occurs. This allows time for beneficiaries to use the items provided and give useful feedback on quality, and account for the possibility that the recipients of aid might have moved.

In parallel, agencies may wish to perform a market survey where the price of commodities on the local markets is collected regularly. The market tends to be distorted in emergency or conflict contexts, and there can be large fluctuations in price provoked by the timing of distributions making very difficult to interpret quantitative data. Market surveys may reveal impacts of distributions on local vendors, if items are being resold, or even if cheaper or more appropriate items are available locally for procurement or cash vouchering.  

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