3.4 Selecting distribution sites

Distribution sites are the physical sites where goods or commodities are distributed to recipients. They are generally identified during the programme planning phase. They are located within or in close proximity to the community benefiting from the distributions. Distribution sites are also commonly referred to as final distribution points (FDP), distribution centres or end-user centres, depending on the type of programme and donor terminology.

The use of temples and churches as storage sites during emergency response has proven effective, as local beliefs and taboos prevented criminal elements from stealing from these sites. But also communities selected schools, community centers or government buildings as distribution sites.

Depending on the programme, distribution sites may also be located within partner facilities such as health posts or schools. As such, every effort must be made to:

  • ensure community and/or partner involvement in distribution management
  • promote shared responsibility among the population for security of stock stored at the community level.
  • Arrange adequate security measures, specially if the commodity will be stored long before distributed.

Also consider:

  • Sites should be safe and accessible to the recipients.
  • Sites should be accessible to, but not directly on, a road. This will facilitate delivery of goods yet ensure the accumulation of recipients does not interfere with normal vehicle traffic.
  • Sites too close to an existing market area, dwellings or a warehouse are not advisable, as crowd control becomes difficult.
  • Existing community infrastructure-such as churches, schools, community centres, clinics or health posts-should be considered; but to avoid conflict it is important to coordinate distribution schedules with other community activities taking place at these sites.
  • Sites should be enclosed by a fence (with emergency exits) and partitioned with separate areas for queuing, distribution and the goods or commodities themselves.
  • Sites must be large enough to contain the goods to be distributed, an area for distribution (distribution lines, bins, etc.) and waiting space for recipients.
  • Water, shelter, sanitation facilities and first aid services should be available for recipients as well as staff.


 Minimum standards for distribution sites

  • The addition or deletion of a distribution site is approved by the Assistant Country Director for Programming or an equivalent authority.
  • A written agreement or MOU is signed with community representatives and/or partners involved in distribution site management. When circumstances change over the life of a programme distribution, original written agreements are modified appropriately. This agreement is reviewed by the CARE Assistant Country Director for Programming and includes:
    • complete details on the roles and responsibilities of all parties concerned
    • sanctions that adequately protect CARE from losses due to criminal activities, misconduct and/or mismanagement
    • the names of those individuals authorised to sign for the receipt of goods and commodities
    • mandatory standards and procedures (as detailed in this manual) for the receipt, storage, handling and accounting of all inventory stored in community warehouses
      (if applicable)
    • the names of those individuals authorised to hold keys to inventory storage areas
      (if applicable)
    • commitment by community representatives to prevent exploitation and abuse of recipients and ensure their safety during distributions.
  • Training/capacity building is provided to community representatives and/or partners in distribution procedures and (if applicable) inventory management.
  • Specimen signatures for those authorised to receive inventory at distribution are on file at dispatching warehouse(s) and with the finance inventory accountant.
  • Responsible parties at the distribution site maintain inventory ledgers for all inventory kept in the store.
  • Before undertaking any distribution, CARE staff provides recipients with the following information:
    • CARE’s policy on sexual exploitation and abuse as mandatory guide to follow
    • Representation of women and people with special needs in distribution committees
    • quantity and type of ration to be distributed
    • reason(s) for any differences in rations to be distributed to different groups or from established norms (if applicable)
    • method of distributions, e.g. through local government, traditional leaders, community groups or direct to individual households
    • distribution day, time and location
    • distribution frequency (if recurrent distributions are made) and deviation from the established norm, if any, due to outside circumstances
    • nutritional quality and requirements for the safe handling and storage of distributed commodities (if applicable). If an unfamiliar commodity is distributed, instructions on preparation of the commodity in a locally palatable manner must be provided
    • the fact that no services and/or payments are to be provided by recipients for receiving goods or commodities. If recipients are required to contribute to the cost of transporting goods or commodities from the primary warehouse to distribution sites, the basis for the contribution amount per beneficiary must be documented and made available to the population
    • necessity, if any, for recipients to bring containers for collection of their commodities.
  • A feedback mechanism is established that enables communities to directly report any irregularities, improprieties or unclear practices performed by CARE, counterparts or sub-recipient staff.
  • When distribution site personnel repeatedly fail to fulfil their responsibilities, or sites are performing poorly, sanctions are imposed on such personnel as soon as possible. All infractions and corrective actions are well documented.
  • Where online platforms for distribution are used, then all necessary equipment should be in place and placed strategically to allow easy of and exit for beneficiary upon verification of receipts.

See Annex 19.3.