A distribution is the hand-over of commodities to intended beneficiaries, fairly and according to specified rations, selection criteria and priorities. A distribution is the process during which control over the commodity passes from the organization organisation holding the stock to the intended beneficiary.
Although every distribution should vary according to the context and local/moment specificitiesspecifics, there are certain principles which apply to all distributions.
- All distribution should be fair, equitable, regular, accountable, and transparent. Beneficiaries should know the rations they are entitled to, the method of distribution, and the distribution schedule. The more transparent the system, the fewer the opportunities for abuse leading to unfair distribution practices. Those who distribute should be accountable to the beneficiaries as well as to the grant founders.
- All distributions involve coordination, logistics, monitoring, and reporting, which are carried out by a range of actors; including the government, UN agencies, NGOs, local partners and the beneficiaries. Good management therefore requires appropriate allocation of responsibilities between the different actors, and authority and decision-making must be clearly defined.
- A single controlling authority should be responsible for policy matters, determining overall priorities. Mechanisms for information exchange and coordination between all actors must be well planned. Coordination committees composed of all major actors are necessary both at national level for policy and planning, and in major operational areas for operational decisions.
- There are common elements in the implementation, which include the estimation of beneficiary numbers, selecting the type of recipients, type of beneficiary documents, determining the physical organization organisation of food distribution, as well as monitoring.
- Information on the beneficiary population is essential for designing a distribution system. No distribution can start without an estimate of the size of the population. The size of the population also influences the choice of recipient and the physical organization organisation of the distribution, such as the number of distribution points. Knowledge of the socio-political sociopolitical context is crucial in deciding who manages the distribution, or who should be the recipient of aid, and whether registration by beneficiaries is adequate.
- Beneficiary participation should be encouraged, which can vary from programs where the community manages the entire program or parts of it. Committees are often recommended to provide a forum for discussion or information on the distribution.
- Access and Protection matters must to be consider at any stage of the distribution process, form the design of the intervention to the actual handover to beneficiaries, allocating resources and means to these matters. They should be part of the evaluation and reports.
The government at different levels may be the receptor and distributor to affected communities or families making use or coordinating with local government or public distribution systems. For agencies involved in distribution, “maximum use should be made of existing organizations organisations and structures within the affected localities, with adaptations and redeployment as necessary” (WFP, 1991). However, Government intervention frequently involves mechanisms for price stabilizationstabilisation, such as sales of food through public distribution systems or subsidized subsidised food or NFI sales through fair price shops than large-scale free distribution which usually is distributed to selected vulnerable groups through schools, social welfare, clinics, etc.
Commodities distribution direct to families or individuals by an agency or a trusted partner organizationorganisation. Agency-managed distribution requires registration of beneficiary families, sometimes limited to beneficiary lists, but often linked with the issuing of ration cards. A family member will collect the ration at a distribution site, where the family ration is weighed, measured or counted by agency staff, after presentation and verification of the ration card.
Type of situation in which these systems have been used
Prerequisites for Success
Commodities are given in bulk to a representative of a group of beneficiaries who further divide it among the group.
Group of Heads of Family
All of the commodities for the group of families are handed over to a representative of the group. The commodities are then immediately redistributed to the individual family heads by the representatives.
Individual Heads of Family
Commodities are handed over directly to each family head.
Repackaging food items requires:
- Preplanning Pre-planning of the size of the new package to match programmatic requirements.
- Sourcing and identification of appropriate containers and materials for repackaging.
- A strategy for how items are repackaged before they reach the beneficiary.
Food items are often distributed with dependent demand – this means they are paired together with different types of food items to complete the full nutritional requirements of the beneficiary population. If items are to be distributed together in complementary fashion, a delay to the proper availability or repackaging of one item may be a delay to the whole process. Distribution planners should accommodate for all food items with dependent demand accordingly, ensuring that all items will be ready at the time and location of distribution in the quantities programmatically required by the programme.
If at any time one or more item is not ready or not available, either the entire distribution should be delayed, or those delayed items will be removed from the entire distribution, ostensibly to be distributed at a later day. If at all possible, delays or omissions should be avoided. Setting up a secondary distribution doubles the logistical requirements, while delaying distribution can directly impact a population’s health, and/or cause serious security incidents. If at any time items are missing or delayed, it must be communicated early and frequently to the community through all available channels to avoid confusion or anger on the day of distribution.
Carefully designed and prepared in advance, the standard kits were developed based on past experience. A quantity of these kits is usually available in the emergency stock, ready to be deploy in the first hours of an emergency.
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).
Quality guarantee; the items have been subjected to a strict procedure including market survey, tender.
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
They are manufactured locally, which means for the mission a big job to identify the suppliers, assemble and pack. Their main advantage is that they can better meet the needs of the population taking into account current requirements and cultural habits.
Highly customizable customisable in terms of items included, packaging and labelling.
Time consuming: Search for suppliers for the various items (market survey, tender,...) Assemblage of the kits.
More economical: no transportation costs.
No guarantee of quality.
Adapted to local customs.
No guarantee of quick supply in case of emergency.
Beneficiaries are more likely to used the item.
Often not possible to find all the items locally.
Kitted and NFI items can be linked to the central emergency prepositioning strategy utilized by pre-positioning strategy utilised by aid agencies.
Both kits and smaller unit NFIs can be developed in conjuncture with a procurement plan. Ideally, vendors will be able to pre-kit items before they arrive at an organizationorganisation's warehouse or distribution site. All or part of the process can be completed before hand, making the overall supply chain process easier. If vendors are unwilling or unable to meet kitting requirements, then kitting will need to be conducted on the premise of the organization organisation or its partners. The act of an organization organisation conducting it's own kitting can be very time consuming and require attention to detail. Kitting will need to be formalized well formalised well in advance to distribution, but not so far in advance that items inside the kit may expire. Organizations Organisations should also account for their own storage capabilities - will they be able to safely store kits matching distribution needs? At what point are they storing too many kits?
Distribution should occur once clear evidence informs the distribution plan. Unfortunately sometimes is not possible to wait until full assessments are done, such as in the first phase of an emergency. In such situations, distributions may start without good planning in order to save lives and/or alleviate the suffering , however it is strongly advised that some form of verification will still be necessary to ensure that the beneficiaries identified have legitimate need. A proper assessment will still need to be completed as soon as possible, but distributions can potentially start without assessments if planners gradually modify their content and systematization systematisation to align with new evidence and contextual information.
If safe, logistically possible, and appropriate for the population, distribution of all items at once or over the course of a single day minimizes minimises the cost and effort for the distributing agency. Single distributions are also a more convenient arrangement for beneficiaries who have to travel long distances to reach distribution sites.
In other contexts, a phased approach may be more appropriate, with distribution occurring over multiple days, or even different distributions separated by multiple days. Phased delivery might be due to:
A phased approach can still meet the most urgent needs of a population, and focus can be placed on prioritized prioritised groups at high risk. A second or more rounds of distributions can then follow accordingly.
In the days before the distribution, implementing organizations 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.
Sites should also be established in a way that minimizes minimises the number of people who are attending a distribution at any one point, as this can be a critical element of crowd control and in ensuring equitable access to humanitarian aid. One way of avoiding large crowds is to call different communities on different days; another way is to create multiple distribution points to be managed simultaneously. An organization’s organisation’s decision in this regard should be based on a variety of factors as detailed below:
A range of factors will determine the location and number of distributions centerscentres. 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.
As a general rule, it is best to have the distribution points as close to the beneficiaries as possible. For dispersed populations, beneficiaries should not have to travel more than 5 kilometers kilometres at a time, however terrain, conditions and insecurity may require that distribution points are established less than 5km. If it is not possible to locate the center centre within walking distance, arrangements should be made to transport refugees to and from the centercentre. In selecting distribution points, factors affecting vulnerable people’s physical access should be taken into consideration, e.g., physical security of women who may be threatened if they have to pass through a military/police camp; ability of disabled people to travel long distances, particularly in the dark. Local tensions between ethnic or religious groups should also be considered when identifying which groups will receive aid in which locations.
The selected location must fulfill fulfil some conditions to facilitate the proper set up of the distribution. Distribution sites must be:
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. In lieu of this, distribution teams can also create their own enclosed sites with stakes and rope or other local materials; in these cases 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 militarized militarised areas.
Organizing 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.
- A clearly delineated distribution space.
- Different lines for men and women if needed and when culturally appropriate.
- A simple structure that facilitates the flow of beneficiaries through the distribution point; progressively organize organise people into single lines.
- The registration stage can be used to organize organise the beneficiaries according to the supply types (e.g., grouping different family sizes).
- A one way flow of beneficiaries: avoid flows of people that overlap or the need to have people moving against the natural flow of distribution.
- Clear space between where people are waiting and the stacks of commodities for distribution.
- The waiting and registration area should have both shaded and have the presence of facilities in case beneficiaries have to wait for extended periods of time. Ideally there should be sufficient latrines for the crowd, but this is not practical in view of the large numbers of people assembled on the site. A rapid distribution will help offset the limited shade or facilities, as well as preventing beneficiaries from having to wait excessively long.
- It is important to provide a water source, especially in hot weather.
Some measures can be implemented to assure that special support is provided without marginalizing marginalising or undermining beneficiaries:
Teams should be made up of both genders and be sensitive to the political context by trained and sensitized sensitised as well as informed and committed with applicable codes of conduct and protection measures.
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 organization 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.
Providing the intended beneficiary population with full information before distribution Is the key to a successful, problem-free distribution.
The distributing organization organisation is responsible to duly inform recipient on the basis on what, when, where and how items will be distributed, and what criteria determines who will obtain items. The rationale employed will be different in the first phases of a rapid onset emergency than it will in longer protracted crisis. The key for any agency is to find the best approach to reach the affected population assuring that every vulnerable individual have as much accurate information as possible about the distribution.
- 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 centers centres and the areas (populations) that each will cover.
- How distributions will be organized 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 team leader must to ensure that everyone involved in the distribution knows their roll, 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 toto to specific staff, such as those persons involved with crowd control, registration team, or complaint mechanism.
Checklist for the Day Before the Distribution
◊ The team leader should brief the core distribution team on the following:
◊ Ensure organizers organisers have the necessary enrollment enrolment lists for the first day of the distribution.
◊ Ensure that all team members have functional communications equipment (VHF radio, mobile phones, etc.), and that all team members know how to reach each other.
◊ Ensure that all needed local staff including daily labor labour have been identified and are aware of responsibilities and start/end times each day.
◊ Confirm that the beneficiaries have been notified of the distribution, as per the plan.
◊ If possible, pre-position all supplies in the right quantities at the distribution site (or nearby); the distribution organization organisation may need to hire security to watch the items overnight.
◊ Have the following items ready for the distribution (as needed):
◊ If applicable, ensure that vehicles are filled with fuel and in good working order.
◊ If applicable, ensure that the equipment above has been loaded into the vehicles.
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 utilizes 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 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, organizations 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 barcode 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 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 duplications 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 minimize minimise data manipulation and fraud, however it is important to segregate these tasks.
Any time biometric data is used to track beneficiaries, organizations 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.
Distribution teams can often prevent these situations through good site selection and design, through following operating procedures, and by positioning sufficient and trained crowd control personnel strategically throughout the site to facilitate flow, minimizing minimising long waiting periods to the extent possible, and dealing with fraud or cases of cheating in a quick and transparent manner.
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 helpdesk help-desk should be visible and be accessible without impediments, but at the same time ensure privacy and personalized 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
It is strongly recommended to brief the staff closest to the crowd about how to deal with questions and how to refer them to the helpdesk help-desk if necessary. Efficiently responding to questions and complaints will have direct impact on the number of security issues likely to further arise.
Closure / After Distribution
Distributing organizations organisations are also responsible for the proper closure and clean-up of a distribution site. Generally, this includes clearing the site of any refuse, resolving any outstanding issues, compensating casual laborerslabourers, and putting a plan in place to report on and monitor the results of the distribution.
After a distribution, it is essential that a distributing organization organisation report internally and externally on the intervention and its results, allowing all stakeholders know results, including shortfalls or gaps in population served. In general, every report should include information on which commodities were distributed, in what quantities, to which populations, in which areas, and in what time period. If all of the needs of the community were not met during the exercise, the distributing organization organisation is requested to include the percentage of total needs met. Any problems that occurred during the distribution should be noted, particularly if they may impact the ability of partners to operate in the area moving forward. Photos with captions should be attached to the report, where possible.
Fill in the name of the organization organisation that organized organised the distribution.
Site(s) and location
Fill in the name of the distribution site (e.g. Name of a School) and its location (governorate, district, village/neighborhoodneighbourhood).
Date(s) of distribution
Give the exact dates of the distribution, inclusive (e.g. January 4-7, 2017).
No of beneficiaries
Give the total number of beneficiaries served through the intervention, disaggregated dis-aggregated by gender and age.
Specify what each household was meant to receive, including whether different packages were delivered to different sized families (e.g. 3 blankets/family of 6, 1 bar of soap/person).
Initial stock count
Give the number of items delivered at the outset of the distribution, listed by item (e.g. 1,000 blankets, 1,000 mattresses, etc.).
Give the total number of items distributed, listed by item (e.g. 850 blankets, 850 mattresses, etc.).
Remaining stock count
Give the number of remaining items, if any, listed by item (e.g. 150 blankets, 150 mattresses, etc.). Ideally, this number will equal the initial stock count minus the stock distributed.
Percentage of needs covered
Give an estimation of the needs covered. If there was a shortage of stock, then this number will be below 100%. Similarly, if there are new arrivals, the team might note that the needs as per the assessment have been covered but that new needs have arisen.
Detail how the distribution was set up and managed.
Problems encountered during the distribution
List any problems encountered during the distribution such as fraud, issues of access, claims of exclusion, etc.
Plan for follow-up
List any actions that the organization organisation plans to undertake in the aftermath, e.g. a PDM or a follow-up distribution to account for new arrivals.
Following the full closure of a distribution, distributing organizations 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, account for the possibility that the recipients of aid might have moved.
- Affected people: IDPs, returnees, host communities or other potential recipients of aid.
- Distributing agency: Agency, NGO or any of kind of partner conducting the distribution.
- Contributing OrganizationOrganisation: Agency contributing with stock, funds, or other kind of support to the distribution.
- Government authorities: local or national authorities covering the area of intervention.
- Cluster: coordinating body that can assist in the organization organisation of the intervention.
The roles and responsibilities of each of these key actors may include:
Roles and Responsibilities
Contributing organization organisation
Protection mainstreaming means distributing organizationsorganisations, partners, employed third parties and all other entities involved in the distribution are undertaking activities in a manner that safeguards people from violence, coercion, deprivation, and discrimination and that aims at attaining full respect for the rights of the individual.
The distributing organization organisation should undertake all effort to integrate protection into every part of the distribution process incorporating the four key elements of protection mainstreaming, which include:
- Avoiding causing harm and prioritize prioritise safety and dignity.
- Ensuring meaningful access.
- Practicing Practising accountability.
- Promoting participation and empowerment.
- Assess the region of the distribution site and avoid proximity of natural crowded places such as markets.
- Plan your distribution time accordingly to the caseload. People tend to stress when they end the day without being served.
- Ensure sufficient community mobilizers mobilisers and crowd control in the area well visible.
- Create buffers and one-way flow of people.
- Define the limits of the distribution site and use natural barriers to avoid people out of designated areas.
- Separate and secure the stock area.
- If distributing from a mobile setup, ensure exit routes are cleared.
- Provide a seasonally friendly place for beneficiaries to wait including basic drainage (raining season) or shading (dry season) .
- Setup up a control between the waiting area: beneficiaries should be let in the site based on the capacity to process them.
- Make the distribution rules clearly visible with banners and megaphones.
- Avoid using the same gate as entrance and exit.
- Follow the plan: avoid surprising the population with a sudden change in the system.