5. Recipient registration

Note: Registration of beneficiaries should be undertaken as soon as possible and ideally prior to any distributions. Often in an emergency, an immediate distribution of relief items is required before a complete registration process can be undertaken.

If registration is not possible at the outset of emergency response, use a best estimate of the number of people in a particular neighbourhood within a village or settlement, and calculate a bulk ration for that neighborhood, in consultation with the community representatives.

This initial figure may come from previous census data, community or local government leaders. The closer to the community this figure is obtained, the higher the likelihood that the population figure will be reasonably accurate.

Neighbourhood representatives should then present themselves and receive the goods and instruction on how to distribute them; in other words, how much to give to each person in their neighbourhood.

See also Annex 19.21 Methods for estimating population numbers.

A recipient registration system provides:

  • a reliable and repeatable method to identify individuals eligible to receive distributed goods or commodities and prevent disputes among communities
  • reliable data for planning anticipated resource requirements
  • a means to identify duplicate registrations in an existing registered population
  • information for donor reports.

CARE’s responsibilities for the recipient registration system will depend on the specific donor or counterpart agreement. CARE may be required to register all recipients or only those individuals who become eligible over the course of a programme after initial registration has been completed. In either case, CARE must continually maintain a Master Recipient (Beneficiary) List of registered individuals or households to prevent large-scale misappropriation of goods and commodities.

Recipient registration is labour-intensive, and must be well planned and executed to ensure accuracy, and to prevent recipients from registering more than once.

In emergency response programmes, CARE should begin registering participants as quickly as possible, before leaders begin to seek personal advantage. The later the registration, the more difficult it is to generate cooperation.

  • Measures are implemented to prevent sexual exploitation during the registration process including having a balance of women on registration teams, and ensuring mechanisms for complaints are in place (see section 1.3 for checklist)
  • Individuals registering recipients are not the same as those involved in monitoring subsequent distributions.
  • All individuals (including temporary workers) registering recipients read and sign CARE’s Code of Conduct (see Annex 19.6).
  • Care is taken to ensure that targeted female or adolescent-headed households, people with special needs and other vulnerable individuals, are not omitted from registration lists.
  • Women have the right to be registered in their own names if they wish.
  • A computerised, password-protected Master Recipient (Beneficiary) List includes all recipients’ names, eligibility criterion, how eligibility was verified and all additional demographic information collected during registration.
  • The Master Recipient (Beneficiary) List (see Annex 19.7) is reviewed periodically by authorised personnel.
  • All CARE emergency programmes have registration procedures in place at the end of the first month of operation. If a Country Office is having difficulties in registering a target population, then local donor representatives, CARE regional directors and CARE USA or other CI member Headquarters (as appropriate) are contacted and informed of the cause of the problems and the steps being taken to resolve them.
  • Where online registration platforms like LMMS and SCOPE exists and are affordable, it is recommended that CARE applies it in registration and ensures all necessary equipment is on site during registration.

5.2.1 Operation set-up

  • Obtain a provisional recipient (beneficiary) list, per established targeting criteria, from community representatives or local authorities (where community-based or administrative targeting mechanisms are used). Divide the list by recipient’s present residence in the administrative divisions being used (e.g. neighbourhood, village, sector of camp) to determine the number of individuals or households in each subdivision of the target population. This information will be essential in determining each recipient’s distribution site.
  • Determine how eligibility (targeting) criteria will be verified during the registration process. Use objective documentation (such as birth certificates, government issued identity card, passports or immunisation cards if available), interviews and/or observations of experienced field staff.
  • Determine what demographic information will be collected during the registration process. The type of information generally relates to targeting criteria and may include:
    • name and gender of family head
    • names, gender and ages of household members (as special programmes may be available to specific demographic segments)
    • relationships among household members (as the term family varies)
    • current residence and (for refugees/displaced populations) home of origin.
  • Recruit and train registration personnel. Ensure sufficient staff is available to perform the registration properly and provide crowd control. Individuals registering recipients cannot be the same as those involved in monitoring the distributions. Ensure all registration personnel sign CARE’s Code of Conduct.
  • Communicate programme objectives, targeting criteria and registration procedures to the target population directly or through community leaders. It may be appropriate to use speaker vans, as well as posters, songs and radio announcements.
  • Encourage the formation of community groups or committees to facilitate the registration process.
  • To minimise confusion and avoid duplicate registration:
    • at the registration site, use fencing, ditches or other markers or physical barriers (as necessary) to keep people in one area while registration is taking place
    • attempt to register the entire population on the same day
    • utilise a method to distinguish between those registered and those not registered, e.g. marking thumbs of those registered with indelible ink; placing bracelets on wrists prior to the registration, and removing them as a ration card is issued.

5.2.2 Establishing eligibility

  • During registration, physically verify the names on the provisional recipient list with real people/households, and collect demographic information as appropriate.
  • Record how eligibility criterion was verified.
  • Record additional demographic information, if any.
  • Once verified, check the names off on the recipient list.
  • If, at the end of registration, there are names on the recipient list that have not been checked off, or there are families presenting themselves that were not on the list initially, resolve these discrepancies through consultation with community leaders. Update recipient list as appropriate.

5.2.3 Ration/identification cards

  • Issue ration or identification cards to each household. Cards should:
    • be pre-numbered sequentially
    • contain some form of identification such as a photograph, a physical description or fingerprints to discourage forgery
    • be of durable paper or plastic or digital identification chips
    • indicate the name of the card holder, usually the head of household
    • indicate the household size or number of individuals who depend on the card holder for their ration
    • break down household members by age groups
    • contain an address, e.g. village, camp sector
    • provide spaces to indicate distributions received
    • have a stated expiry date
    • include accountability information, such as how to make a complaint.
  • Consider issuing identification cards to female heads of households, especially for food commodity distributions, as this acknowledges women’s predominant role as guardians of the household goods in many cultures.
  • Keep blank ration cards in the office safe and inventory periodically to prevent unauthorised issuance (see Annex 19.8 Ration card format).
  • If identity cards are not feasible, issue tokens, books or tickets. For instructions on distribution systems using tokens see Annex 19.9, and section 12.1.1.

During the Tsunami response in India, the Family Card Token design (illustrated below) proved very effective for tracking distributions of various kits to individual households, promoting transparency in terms of confirming exactly what items were provided to each household within a given community (acting as a physical receipt provided to each recipient) and assisting in identifying instances of unanticipated exclusion to targeted beneficiaries.

The Family Card design also facilitated the potential to undertake and track multiple distributions on different days with a single card. Allowing recipient households to keep their cards also promoted transparency between households, as everyone knows who received what; and reminded recipients of what items were actually received at a later date.

For more detail see Annex 19.10 CARE India sample family ration card.

  • Produce a computerised (simple spreadsheet) Master Recipient (Beneficiary) List based on card issuance. Include on the list, by recipient, how eligibility was verified and all additional demographic information collected during registration. Ensure the computerised Master Recipient (Beneficiary) List is password protected with editing provisions. By computerising the registration information:
    • lists can be generated for use during each distribution (tally sheets and receipts)
    • card numbers and family heads can be matched
    • data can be sorted and analysed to provide demographic information.
  • Update Master Recipient (Beneficiary) List information regularly with records of births, death and migration.
  • Conduct registration and re-registration simultaneously at all geographically adjacent centres to prevent people from registering in two centres.
  • Collect or cancel all previously issued cards, tickets, tokens, books or other types of registration materials during re-registration.
  • Check and revalidate existing registration documents before re-registration documentation is issued.

In line with its Commitments to Women and its concern to ensure that family food requirements are met, WFP increasingly arranges for ration cards to be issued based on principles such as the following:

  • For monogamous families comprising a husband, wife and their dependents, or a single parent/guardian and her/his dependents:
    • the wife, or the single parent, is registered as the ration card holder. She/he may be given the opportunity to designate another family member to collect the household’s ration on her/his behalf.
  • In polygamous settings where a man has more than one wife:
    • each wife is registered as a ration card holder for herself and her dependents
    • the husband is either included as a member of one of these units or registered as an individual ration card holder, according to his choice
    • This applies in all polygamous settings regardless of whether the husband shares his time among separate households formed by each wife and her dependents, or heads a joint family household in which all wives and dependents cook and eat together.
  • Individuals living alone are registered as individual ration card holders.
  • For households that are not based on family ties, efforts are made to issue the ration cards in the name of women.