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

6.4 Trading rations

A limited degree of trading in commodities at the household level may be accepted provided there is no evidence of large scale diversion of assistance or detrimental effects on the health/nutritional status of the community. Situations where a large volume of commodities are being sold by “leaders” is an indication that the commodities have never reached their intended target, the individual families.


Make distribution staff visible by providing them with hats, vests and other visibility material.

Carry out the distribution as quickly as possible, minimise waiting periods.

Deal quickly and fairly with cases of cheating or disorder.

Ensure that there is clear space between people waiting and the stacks of commodities.

Keep in mind the limitations of fences at distribution points: The type of construction usually available will not be able to stop a large determined crowd. Aim at creating an orderly process which will not attract large numbers of people at any one time rather than relying on physical barriers. If the process is well structured, people will respect even token barriers such as a line of stones or a single strand of rope. Convince people to sit down during waiting periods - the result will be much less pushing forward or jostling.