3.2 Distribution frequency

Distribution frequency is the interval of time between distributions. While non-food items are generally one-off distributions, food commodities are distributed at regular intervals over the life of the project. Distribution frequencies may be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly (based on a 30-day month), but as a general rule, 15-day distributions seem to be preferred for food commodities. This will involve heavy logistical arrangements and more costs, so in some cases, the frequency is increased to a month or even two month to reduce costs, logistic arrangements and/or address some specific security concerns.

To determine the distribution frequency, consider the following factors:

  • Each distribution must be supervised and monitored by a CARE distribution team. The more frequent the distributions, the more supervision and monitoring staff are required.
  • The security of recipients and goods, once distributed, must be considered. If large quantities are distributed infrequently, it is more likely that items will be sold by, or stolen from, beneficiaries. Also, home storage of large quantities of commodity may also be problematic for some.
  • Recipients will most likely spend an entire day collecting the goods. As such, weekly distributions will require recipients to invest 4 days/month whereas monthly distributions only require 1 day/month of their time.
  • The expected weight and transportability of goods distributed must not exceed recipient capacity. For example, if a commodity ration of 500 g per person per day is to be provided, and the average family size is five people, then a monthly family distribution will be 75 kg. (500 g x five family members x 30 days = 75,000 grams or 75 kilograms).
  • If the recipient population is totally dependent on distributed commodities to meet their food needs, a shorter frequency of distribution means that the time without food (until the next distribution) will be shorter. If the population is known to have access to other sources of food (confirmed through systematic monitoring surveys), then they will be able to space out their food consumption and make the distributed ration last longer.
  • Site storage capacity and safety and security of recipients and staff must be factored in.