Issue 04 Editorial

Dear Readers

Welcome to another issue of Field Exchange. Before we comment on the articles we have for you in this issue, we would like to share some of the feedback we received through our readership survey. Generally, we are happy to see that you the readers (or at least those of you who responded so far) do like Field Exchange. Eighteen months after its set up the ENN distributes 1100 copies of Field Exchange to over 80 countries worldwide. The response rate to the questionnaire included in the last two issues was about 30% from those on our mailing list, and 10% from the bulk copies we provide through agency headquarters. Thanks to all of you who took the time to let us know what you think, and for those who did not we would still welcome your views at any time.

Eighty three percent felt that ENN enhanced the exchange of field level experiences either 'well' (45%) or 'very well' (38%). Eighty two percent indicated that through this publication, they felt either 'well' (43%), or 'very well' (37%) informed of current research. This was particularly so for the agency HQ's (80%) and field worker groups (84%), compared with 74% of the academic group.

Figure 1

Field Exchange sections were scored out of 10 for both usefulness and interest. As can be seen from figures 1 and 2, mean scores were high on both accounts. In terms of usefulness, field articles,research and evaluation sections received the highest scores. Letters, agency profile and 'What became of' (which we have dropped) scored lowest. When scores for interest were given, field articles, research and news did best - with agency profile and 'what became of' lagging behind. Field workers gave slightly higher scores across sections than did the HQ staff and academic staff.

More than half of you felt that the length of the articles was just right, with most of the rest stating that it should depend on the article subject. Language and style seemed to be popular for most of you. Practically everyone felt that they had learnt something through reading the Newsletter. Each article published was cited at least once as someone's favourite.

Figure 2

On the research section 81% of responders felt that the length was just right. Research in progress and published research were the favourite types of research cited by those of you who expressed a preference.

Many of you (77%) liked the design and layout of Field Exchange. However a number of you did criticise the size of the publication preferring a smaller format, particularly for filing and photocopying purposes. We are trying to address these concerns with this issue! ( This issue will be available on the web for downloading in A4 format - details available later) - but are reluctant to move to the standard A4 size just yet, as we feel it may detract from Field Exchange's unique and conspicuous quality - which may be why many of you pick it up in the first place

In this issue's field articles there is a wide range of topics discussed. We have a piece written about the food logistics system used in Somalia at the height of the civil war. The main point of the article is, that in this type of conflict situation the logistic programme can have a multi-faceted impact on a population, and may well end up doing far more than just moving resources from A to B. The workings of a logistics system can affect markets, employment, and political balances. It is important to realise this, both from the point of view of managing these impacts to maximum advantage, as well as for evaluation purposes.

We also have an article and postscripts about a 'Food for Work' programme in post-emergency Rwanda. This raises an interesting issue about when food is actually given to beneficiaries. In this 'development' context, it appears accepted policy amongst donors and UN agencies, that food aid can be provided retrospectively once the work has been completed. Yet curiously, there is another policy amongst the same agencies, which disallows retrospective provision of rations in emergency programmes, in the event that rations are missed for some reason like insecurity or breaks in the food aid pipeline, Such policies are almost counter-intuitive. On the one hand food is being denied when food insecurity is greatest (an emergency) but being provided in a development phase when the problem is less acute. Part of the problem here may be definitional, in that distinctions between emergency and development phases are never clear cut and may ultimately be made for administrative purposes. It seems self-evident, that decisions about whether to provide rations retrospectively or not should ultimately be taken on location and population specific food security criteria rather than poorly defined descriptions of the stage of an emergency. Rwanda also features in another field level article. This one is about the success of a therapeutic feeding programme for unaccompanied minors in Kisangani, Zaire, waiting to return to Rwanda. The focus of the article is on the provision of 'caring practices' which were crucial to the nutritional management of these malnourished children and without which recovery may have been far slower. The article is timely in that it follows on from the recent International conference on 'Caring for the Nutritionally Vulnerable in Emergencies' which is described in the news section of this edition.

The Iraq situation is our country feature this time, with the focus of the article being on the impact of trade sanctions since the Gulf war. The evidence seems to show a dramatically negative impact of these sanctions on the health and nutritional status of the civilian population. The author then legitimately asks, whether it is fair to continue penalising a population with little control or influence over the decisions taken by their government.

If you have an idea for any other country feature, whereby a given emergency situation is examined from a particular angle, then please let us know, and if there is enough of a demand we will do our best to facilitate.

Editors,
Fiona O'Reilly
Jeremy Shoham

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Reference this page

Fiona O'Reilly and Jeremy Shoham (1998). Issue 04 Editorial. Field Exchange 4, June 1998. p2. www.ennonline.net/fex/4/fromtheeditor