12. Procedures for a typical distribution

The following example procedures assume a distribution direct to households. The procedures can be adapted easily, through training, to other methods of distribution (e.g. distributions through local government, traditional leaders, new groups or committees).

  • Prepare the distribution site. Exclude all non-authorised individuals from the distribution area and ensure the following.
  • All distribution staff, supervisors and guards have some means of identification, e.g. distinctive hats, shirts, scarves or badges and (as applicable) megaphones or whistles.
  • Sufficient quantities of goods or commodities have been placed in the ration shops (i.e. the areas within the site where recipients will physically receive entitlements).
  • Drinking water, sanitation facilities and a fully stocked first aid box are accessible to all anticipated recipients.
  • Prominently display banners detailing per person distribution entitlements, in local language and/or drawn pictorially.
  • Banners should also include a brief explanation of who is considered an eligible recipient to ensure everyone is aware of their entitlements. Additional means of communicating this information should also be employed, for example by speaker vans, posters, songs and radio announcements.
  • Donor visibility requirements (e.g. display of logo) should be catered for, if no security risks associated with that.
  • All distribution areas have standardised scoops to measure commodity rations and individuals using the scoops have been properly trained. If a new commodity is provided or the ration level has changed, new scoops are supplied.
  • Calibrated scales are available for both recipients and monitors to verify the weights of commodity rations received.
  • Recipients should be advised in advance of any requirement on their part to bring containers for both dry and wet (vegetable oil) commodities.
  • Empty sacks/containers are available, if necessary.
  • Outside the actual distribution area, organise recipient population by administrative group (neighbourhood, camp sector, village, etc.) in the same manner as that used during registration and for planning. This will facilitate identifying recipient card numbers on tally and receipt sheets.
  • Further organise each administrative group by household size. It will be most efficient to process recipients by household size, in other words distribute to all one-member households, then on to all two-member households, and so forth.
  • Admit only ration card holders into the distribution area. As the recipients will have been organised according to household size, it will be easy to direct them to the proper distribution area where they will wait in the queue.
  • As recipients reach the front of the queue, they present their ration card to the distribution staff member (the tally clerk) who checks off that number on his/her tally sheet. The tally clerk should also inspect the ration card to ensure that it is genuine and that the household size on the card corresponds to the household size being processed at the moment.
  • The ration card is then presented to another distribution staff member (the puncher) who punches a hole or otherwise marks the card to indicate that the cardholder is receiving the ration. After punching, the card is returned to the cardholder.
  • The recipient enters the distribution area and collects their entitled ration. If more than one item or commodity is being distributed, they are generally distributed sequentially by different distribution individuals (scoopers).
  • Immediately upon exiting the distribution area, the recipient presents his/her ration card to the receipt clerk. The receipt clerk locates the cardholder’s name on the receipt sheet and verifies the household size on the card matches the household size on the sheet. The recipient signs or marks next to his/her name to indicate that rations were received and then leaves the distribution area.
  • On a random basis, request individual recipients to bring their rations to a weighing scale. Weigh each commodity separately and record weight along with the card number and household size. At least two people independent of the storage function must document they have witnessed and approved the weighing of commodity rations. This random weighing is conducted to ensure a proper ration size is being provided.
  • Distribution monitors examine all empty packaging (e.g. sacks, oil containers, cartons) to ensure that they are completely empty at the end of the distribution. All empty packaging is collected, recorded and disposed of in accordance with written directions from the Programme Manager (see Annex 19.17 Disposal of empty packaging).
  • All goods or commodity remaining at the end of the distribution are returned to stock and properly accounted for.
  • Tally clerks and receipt clerks calculate total recipients served and total quantity of goods or commodities distributed, from their respective sheets.

12.1.1 Note on ration cards

Ration cards usually have a series of numbers, starting from 1, printed either around the edge of the card or in a designated space. Each number corresponds to a specific distribution date, and the number is punched or marked to indicate that the card was processed during that distribution. When all the numbers have been punched, a new card is issued. Where online platform like LMMS and SCOPE are in use, the digital identification cards are used.

If ration cards are not available, consider issuing sequentially pre-numbered slips to the recipients.

  • The numbers should be controlled by the Programme Manager and correspond to numbers printed on tally and receipt sheets.
  • Distributions are only made to those presenting such numbered slips.
  • The slips are collected from each recipient when he or she receives their ration.

All collected slips are returned to the Programme Manager.

During the first stages of emergency response, it may be necessary to undertake community distributions before ration cards and direct distribution systems can be established.

In such cases, the most practical community unit to target for distribution (e.g. neighbourhood, camp sector, and village) must first be determined. Reliable community representatives are then requested to compile a list of households in each unit.

  • Attempt to identify respected leaders of organisations with strong ties to the target population, such as NGOs, health workers, community groups or neighbourhood committees.
  • Avoid individuals or organisations in conflict with the target population, or openly associated with political parties or military factions.
  • Avoid gatekeepers/problem makers who look only after their interest and try to take advantage of the distribution process.

As soon as possible, establish a written agreement with the representatives outlining the distribution procedures to be used, control and monitoring mechanisms, selection criteria, and reporting obligations. Make every attempt to inform the entire community of the terms of these contracts.

A total quantity of goods or commodities is calculated for distribution based on the number of individuals in the community unit, the ration scale and (for recurrent distributions) the length of the distribution cycle.

On an established distribution date, the community representatives (along with sufficient community members to unload and transport the entire allocation) meet the CARE trucks and sign for receipt of the goods or commodities. The representatives are then responsible for distribution to individual community members or households.

Post-distribution monitoring at the household level must be conducted as soon as possible after goods and commodities are turned over to the representative(s), to confirm that household-level distribution has been completed and that the established ration scale has been observed.

In rare cases during an emergency response, it may be necessary to distribute goods or commodities directly from a warehouse to recipients in the warehouse compound. In such situations, the following procedures must be followed:

  • Ensure adequate security and crowd control. Please refer to section 7 Site security.
  • Obtain an authorised recipient list, usually prepared by a government official or community leader. The official or community leader must sign the list.
  • During the distribution, the Programme Manager maintains a tally of both the number of persons served and the quantities received. Keeping a tally in this manner is similar to tallying the amount of inventory loaded onto trucks at the time of a dispatch.
  • When distribution is completed, the Programme Manager signs the tally sheets.
  • Based on the tally sheet total(s), the authorised warehouse manager prepares the ‘dispatch information’ section of the waybill(s) and the Programme Manager completes the ‘receipt information’ section. A community leader should also be identified to sign the recipient list and the ‘receipt information’ section of the waybill, together with the Programme Manager. All such distributions must be documented with waybills.
  • The recipient list and the tally sheets are attached to the waybill as supporting documents and the waybill is routed as normal.