4. What not to do: Do no harm and other common mistakes

  • Standard and inappropriate responses are often implemented due to inadequate response analysis based on the needs assessment. ‘Off-the-shelf’ interventions that do not take account of local priorities rarely work. Each intervention must be designed to suit the local context.
  • Do not assume that a need for food also means a need for seeds. Specific seeds assessments should be conducted before major seeds and tools distributions.
  • A ‘food-first’ bias, which assumes that addressing food security alone, will achieve significant impacts on malnutrition. It is important to assesses the relative importance of the three underlying determinants of malnutrition, and design the interventions accordingly.
  • Do not implement food- or cash-based interventions without a sound market analysis. The introduction of food or cash and vouchers will have an impact on the local market, which can make food less accessible for the most poor if market dynamics are not properly understood or the right interventions planned.
  • Do not implement food programmes without attention to gender roles and power. This can lead to food programmes providing opportunities for abuse of power and exploitation. Measures to prevent and respond to sexual exploitation must be integrated into programmes.