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close this bookCommodity Distribution, A Practical Guide for Field Staff (United Nations High Commission for Refugee, 1997, 77 p.)
View the document3.1 The framework - an overview
View the document3.2 Advantages and disadvantages of the three categories of distribution
View the document3.3 Choosing the system
View the document3.5 How to distribute through groups of heads of families (one method)
View the document3.6 How to distribute through individual heads of family (three methods)

3.2 Advantages and disadvantages of the three categories of distribution

1. Distribution to groups of beneficiaries through the leadership



· You need limited staff

· You can use community leadership structures already in place.

· The beneficiaries themselves can act as monitors of the distribution process.

· Gives responsibility to the community, places some responsibility for assisting at risk groups on the community itself.

· Gives possibility for community to allocate commodities according to their priorities including giving extra to at risk groups.

· Can be used in first stages of a large influx with limited space for distribution

· Can be implemented without registration or ration cards

· Distribution is relatively quick to get started.

· Easy for community leadership and/or the 'strongest' to abuse their position and discriminate against parts of the population.

· There may be many levels of re-distribution, from the leadership to many layers of “sub-leaders” until it reaches the individual household, this makes monitoring by outsiders difficult.

· Distribution may not be equal. Based on the communities' own norms, certain groups or individuals (not at risk) may receive more than others.

· Can be difficult for the most at risk to receive their share

· Lack of control on beneficiaries figures.

· Difficulty in monitoring the distribution.

· If women are not properly represented in the leadership, they may have difficulty of access.

2. Distribution to groups of heads of family



· Promotes social interaction within the refugee community and enhances social adjustment to the new situation and environment.

· You can have some influence over the selection of leaders, you can introduce new community leadership structures, ensure the representation of women etc.
Depending on how you select the family groups, this can be used to help replace an existing unrepresentative leadership.

· You can set up specialised groups of families e.g. all female headed in separate groups, all families of marginalised groups together.

· Shares responsibility for distribution with the beneficiaries.

· The beneficiaries themselves act as monitors of the distribution process.

· Requires a small number of distribution staff

· Because the food is handed over in bulk to groups, individual scooping by the distributing agents is avoided. Can be used when standardised scoops are not available while food rations are frequently changing.

· Quick implementation.

· Security problems related to crowd control are minimized by the presence of the family group representatives.

· Needs registration and substantial administration to organise family groups

· An extensive information campaign is needed.

· Needs homogeneous group of beneficiaries

· Needs reliable and verified population figures

· Abuses by family group representatives may happen.

· Monitoring of the final re-distribution within the groups is needed when this is taking place away from the agency distribution site.

3. Distribution to individual heads of family



· You retain control over the whole delivery process right to family level. This may be important in situations where there are inadequate community structures.

· Makes it possible to target at risk groups.

· Transparency.

· Commodities reach the beneficiaries directly.

· Easy to monitor that female headed households, and vulnerable families have proper access.

· Very staff intensive

· Needs a lot of infrastructure.

· Needs registration and a substantial administration.

· Takes away most of the responsibility for distribution from the beneficiaries themselves.

· Can be difficult for the beneficiaries
themselves to act as monitors of the distribution process.

· Not applicable in early stages of an emergency

· Standardised scoops are needed, these need to change every time there is a change in the ration.

· Scooping could prove difficult to monitor.