Short for Non-Food Items: Any non-food article, tool, utensil or other item which contributes to the physical and/or psychological health of populations.
Short for People with Specific Needs: People that we can expect could have special needs are particularly older people, small children, those with impaired mobility or breastfeeding mothers among others that could require any other special assistance or at risk.
A set of items used for a particular purpose or activity, generally package packaged and/or distributed together.
A term applied to food and non-food items given in mass distribution.
Short for "Heads of Family", defined as a member of a household that represents it.
A social unit composed of individuals, with genetic or social relations among themselves, under one head or leader, living under the same roof, eating from the same pot and sharing a common resource base.
Short for "Extended Delivery Point".
Short for Internal Displaced Population.
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 organisation holding the stock to the intended beneficiary.
The objective of every distribution is to mitigate the impact on individuals after or during a crisis by providing the means to preserve their health and ensure their welfare, safety and dignity.
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 required by the programme.
If at any time one or more item is not ready or not available at any time, either the entire distribution should be delayed, or those delayed items will be removed from the entire distribution to be distributed at a later day. If at all possible, delays Delays or omissions should be avoided if possible. 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 at any time, it must be communicated early and frequently to the community through all available channels to avoid confusion or anger on the day of distribution.
Sometimes there are circumstances that make ot necessary to distribute items in addition to kits. This can be done:
If vendors are unwilling or unable to meet kitting requirements, then kitting will need to be conducted on the premise of the organisation or its partners. The act of an organisation conducting it's its own kitting can be very time consuming and require attention to detail. Kitting will need to be formalised well in advance to distribution, but not so far in advance that items inside the kit may expire. 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?
Any kit or repackaged good item must be transported and and packed in durable overpacking capable of withstanding not only the movement in a warehouse or transport to a distribution site, but also transport back to the home of the recipient and potentially even last for weeks or longer inside a beneficiary place of residence. Overpacking should be able to withstand rips and tears, and even be resistant to water damage. Solutions might include packing kits in:
This guide does not intent to address targeting or the decisions about what to distribute to who and other key questions; there should be a dedicated technical teams specializing in food security, WASH, education, shelter or others, other sectors that will have better input on these needs. However, due to the multiple activities needed to distribute commodities on time it is recommended to involve logistics personnel in the planning and decision making process. This will assure that what is decided could be feasible and that the decided plan makes sense alongside other logistics plans.
Distribution should occur once clear evidence informs the distribution plan. Unfortunately sometimes it is not possible to wait until full assessments are done, such as in the first phase of an emergency. In these situations, distributions may start without good planning in order to save lives and/or alleviate the suffering , however it is strongly advised 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 systematisation to align with new evidence and contextual information.
|How many days for preparation and delivering the supplies to the distribution site?||What’s the transportation time between the main warehouse and the field location?||How long does it take to source the item? Are they available in the market?|
If a distribution is intended on the day D, logistics should trigger the reception at:
D – (2days) – (5days) – (15days) = 22 days in advance
Another way to look at this is following a time linetimeline; Before Distribution – Day of Distribution – After Distribution.
In the days before the distribution, implementing organisations should think about how they are going to will set-up and manage the distribution in a manner that is effective, efficient, safe, and respectful of the needs of beneficiaries.
- How much responsibility is appropriate/efficient/worthy to give to the beneficiaries themselves?
- What kind of resources (i.e., time, space, staff, financial resources) are available to set up and run the system?
Another key aspect to take in consideration consider when deciding the approach and setting up a sound distribution system is the access.
- 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 Safe for women and children.
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:
- 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 organise people into single lines.
- The registration stage can be used to 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 be both shaded and have the presence of bathroom 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.
- Distribution times are safe for beneficiaries to travel to the distribution point and return home without exposure to further risk of harm.
- Physical location of the distribution can be easily and safely accessed, particularly against the risk or threat of gender-based violence and attacks from armed groups.
- Commodities distributions are designed to be respectful and inclusive of cultural and religious practice.
- Commodities distribution methodology are designed to preserve safety and dignity.
- Options for home delivery of shelter materials/NFIs for vulnerable persons (e.g., persons with disabilities who cannot access the distribution point, elderly, child-headed households, etc.) or systems by which representatives can collect assistance packages on their behalf.
- Commodities are packaged in a way that avoids injury or strain to beneficiaries. Distributed items should not be of excessive size or weight, and should be easy to manage for elderly or persons with disabilities.
- The provision of additional NFIs essential for personal hygiene, dignity and well-being, including sanitary materials for women and girls are consistent with cultural and religious traditions.
- Complaints mechanisms and monitoring are integral to the distribution plans.
Sites and Resources
- Sphere Project, Handbook (2018)
- Universal Logistics Standards (ULS) Handbook
- UNHCR Commodity Distribution Guide
- The Cash Learning Partnership
- PARCEL Project
- Humanitarian Logistics Association
- Core Humanitarian Standards
-  Source: Commodity Distribution, a practical guide: Division of Operational Support; 1997, UNHCR.
- SHELTER CLUSTER, (2017). Guidelines for the distribution of Shelter/NFI kits
- OVERSEAS DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE, (1995) General Food Distribution in Emergencies. Susanne Jaspars and Helen Young.
- NORWEGIAN REFUGEE COUNCIL. Camp Management Tool Kit. Food distribution and Non-Food Items.
- MEDICINS SANS FRONTIERS, (2009). Pocket Guide NFI Distribution.
- OXFAM, (2008). NFI Distribution.
- IASC, (2006). Gender and NFI in Emergencies.
- WFP, (2013). Food Assistance with Safety and Dignity.
- WFP, (2002). Emergency Field Operations Pocketbook.
- UNHCR, (1997). Commodity distribution, a practical guide.
- UNHCR and WFP, (2011). Memorandum of understanding
- UNHCR (2020) Guidelines for Reducing Protection Risks in in-kind Distributions.
Sites and Resources
- Sphere Project, Handbook (2018)
- UNHCR Commodity Distribution Guide