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close this bookHandbook for Emergencies - Second Edition (UNHCR, 1999, 414 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentUsing the Handbook
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentAbbreviations
View the documentUNHCR's Mission Statement
close this folder1. Aim and Principles of Response
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View the documentDefinition and Aim
View the documentResponsibilities
View the documentPrinciples of Response
close this folder2. Protection
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View the documentIntroduction
View the documentProtection in Emergencies
View the documentInitial Actions
View the documentPhysical Safety of Refugees
View the documentEmergencies as a Result of Changes in Government Policy
View the documentOther Persons of Concern to UNHCR
View the documentDurable Solutions
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes
close this folder3. Emergency Management
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View the documentThe Key Emergency Management Functions
View the documentStages in Refugee Emergency Operations
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close this folder4. Contingency Planning
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View the documentPlanning as a Process
View the documentContingency Planning Tasks
View the documentCharacteristics of a Good Plan
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close this folder5. Initial Assessment, Immediate Response
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View the documentProtection and Material Assistance
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close this folder6. Operations Planning
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View the documentAllocation of Responsibilities
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close this folder7. Coordination and Site Level Organization
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View the documentCoordination
View the documentOrganization at the Site Level
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close this folder8. Implementing Arrangements
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View the documentImplementing Arrangements
View the documentImplementing Procedures
View the documentMonitoring, Reporting and Evaluation
View the documentSpecial Considerations
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close this folder9. External Relations
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View the documentRelations with Government and Diplomatic Corps
View the documentRelations with the Media
View the documentFunding and Donor Relations
View the documentFormal Written Communications
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close this folder10. Community Services and Education
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View the documentOrganizing Community Services
View the documentHuman Resources
View the documentFamily Tracing and Reunification
View the documentGroups at Risk and Vulnerable Groups
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close this folder11. Population Estimation and Registration
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View the documentPopulation Estimates
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close this folder12. Site Selection, Planning and Shelter
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View the documentOrganization of Response
View the documentCriteria for Site Selection
View the documentSite Planning: General Considerations
View the documentSite Planning: Specific Infrastructure
View the documentShelter
View the documentReception and Transit Camps
View the documentPublic Buildings and Communal Facilities
close this folder13. Commodity Distribution
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View the documentWhen to start distribution
View the documentChoosing a Commodity Distribution System
View the documentComponents of Distribution Systems
View the documentThe Role of Refugee Women
View the documentMonitoring
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close this folder14. Health
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View the documentHealth Assessment, Planning, Monitoring and Surveillance
View the documentMain Health Programmes
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View the documentHuman Resources and Coordination
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close this folder15. Food and Nutrition
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View the documentOrganization of Food Support
View the documentNutritional Assessments
View the documentGeneral Feeding Programme
View the documentSelective Feeding Programmes
View the documentInfant Feeding and use of Milk Products
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close this folder16. Water
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View the documentAssessment and Organization
View the documentThe Need
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View the documentWater Supply Systems
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View the documentPumping Equipment
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close this folder17. Environmental Sanitation
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View the documentBasic Principles And Standards
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View the documentHuman Excretia Disposal
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close this folder18. Supplies and Transport
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close this folder19. Voluntary Repatriation
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View the documentUNHCR's Role in Voluntary Repatriation
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View the documentOn Route
View the documentOn Arrival in Country of Origin
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close this folder20. Administration, Staffing and Finance
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View the documentEmergency Staffing
View the documentBudget and Finance
View the documentNon-Expendable Property and Office Supplies
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close this folder21. Communications
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close this folder22. Coping with Stress
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close this folder23. Staff Safety
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View the documentThe UN Security System
View the documentEssential Plans
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close this folder24. Working with the Military
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View the documentCategories of Military Forces
View the documentPossible Roles of Military Forces in Humanitarian Operations
View the documentCoordination Between Military Forces and Civilian Agencies
View the documentKey References
View the documentAppendix 1 - Catalogue of Emergency Response Resources
View the documentAppendix 2 - Toolbox
View the documentAppendix 3 - Memoranda
View the documentAppendix 4 - Glossary

Components of Distribution Systems

General Considerations

6. The ideal distribution system should be safe and easily accessible to the intended beneficiaries.

Safe: Distribution should be organized in such a way that the system is safe for all who use it. Particular attention should be given to women and the vulnerable;

Accessible: Distribution points should be close to where people live and located so that the access of particular groups is not restricted. The timing of distributions should suit the beneficiaries.

7. The refugees themselves can provide the most effective monitoring and control of the distribution system. In order to do this they must be informed as to the type and quantity of commodities to be distributed and method and timing to be used.

A system needs to be put in place whereby the refugees can be continuously informed of changes in the quantity, type or method Of distributions.

8. In the early stages of a new operation, particularly in large emergencies, effective control over distribution may not be possible. However, from the start, each action taken should contribute to a process whereby control by UNHCR is progressively established. For example the provision of plastic sheeting, tents and other shelter material is very important because it reduces the mobility of the population. Once it is issued, the population can settle and commodity distribution and other services will be easier to organize.

Refugee Involvement

9. Ensure the refugees are well informed (both women and men). They must know what they should receive, how much, when and how. This information should come to them directly rather than through their leadership.

The refugees should be able to see the distribution process for themselves as they are the best monitors and controllers of the process.

Ensure that the refugees participate at all levels of the distribution process. However, be aware of the dangers of non-representational leadership (see chapter 7 on coordination and site level organisation).

10. Irregularities in the distribution cycle undermine the confidence of the beneficiaries and increase their need to circumvent the system.

Logistical Considerations

11. In camps, the distribution system should allow beneficiaries to collect rations close to where they live (not more than 5 km away) and at regular monthly intervals. For dispersed populations refugees should not have to travel more than 5 to 10 km to distribution sites.

12. In the case of food distribution, it is usually preferable to distribute dry uncooked rations in bulk. Avoid mass cooked food distribution for the general ration (see chapter 15 on food and nutrition).

Managerial Considerations

13. Distributing relief commodities involves several organizations and many individuals, for example, the government, WFP and NGOs. Co-ordination structures must be put in place, including regular meetings of all interested parties. The frequency of these meetings will depend on the situation. At the start of an emergency daily meetings will probably be needed. As the situation normalizes the frequency of meetings can be reduced to one per month.

14. It is important to understand the roles and responsibilities of the main actors involved at various stages of commodity distribution. In the case of food distribution the modalities of distribution as well as the reporting requirements are set out in a tripartite agreement between UNHCR, WFP and the implementing partner. The respective roles of UNHCR and WFP in relation to food aid are set out in their Memorandum of Understanding (Appendix 3). See Chapter 15 on food and nutrition for more information on food distribution and on of the role of WFP.

15. The family, as a basic social unit, is the target of distribution. This applies to food and non-food items. Providing assistance to and through families is effective as the basis for the distribution system and also supports the family unit. However this does not mean that the ration has to be handed to each family directly. In some situations distribution can be more effective through groups of families or other community structures.

16. Avoid payment in kind to distribution workers. It makes monitoring difficult and, in times of shortages, vulnerable people may be deprived of commodities in order to pay staff.

17. In camps, aim to have at least 1 distribution site per 20,000 refugees.

18. Plan to have a minimum of 2 distribution staff per 1,000 beneficiaries.