Cover Image
close this bookCommodity Distribution, A Practical Guide for Field Staff (United Nations High Commission for Refugee, 1997, 77 p.)
close this folderVI. SPECIAL ISSUES
View the document6.1 Common questions
View the document6.2 How much to distribute when numbers are not agreed?
View the document6.3 When you do not have enough to go around
View the document6.4 Trading rations
View the document6.6 Payment in kind
View the document6.7 Retroactive distribution
View the document6.8 Sacks and other empty containers

6.3 When you do not have enough to go around

There may be insufficient commodities on hand on the distribution day to meet the agreed basket of food and/or non-food items. This can happen in stable long term operations as well as in emergencies. At the same time there may be pressure to distribute whatever is in stock.

The options are:

· Postpone distribution until a full ration for the total population is available.

· Distribute an equal share of available commodities to all of the population.

· Give a larger or full ration to vulnerable groups in the population and a small (or no) ration to the general population.

Whichever option you adopt you will need to ensure that the population is properly informed. They will need this information in order to plan their consumption during periods of shortage. Security problems are less likely if the refugees know what is happening and why.

Options when there is not enough to go around


Equal share
(reduced ration)

Special groups only

· Can the refugees, especially vulnerable groups, support the wait without serious consequences?

· Is the monitoring system good enough to detect real hardship which could be caused by delay?

· Can the vulnerable people survive with reduced rations?

· Have you clearly identified the vulnerable groups?

· Do you have the means to deliver targeted assistance?

· How will the general population react when they get little or nothing, will they support this option?