Enable low bandwidth mode Disable low bandwidth mode

Conclusions to 'Targeting Food Aid in Emergencies' (Special Supplement 1)


The operational contexts for 'within geographical area targeting' are limited

This supplement has focused on targeting food aid in emergencies within geographical areas. Within area targeting is only likely to be appropriate when:

  • there are routinely identifiable differences between the targeted population and the non-targeted population
  • where the community co-operates with the targeting strategy
  • where distribution mechanisms can be established which are not subject to massive diversion by powerful groups
  • where the amount of resources available broadly matches, or even better, exceeds the scale of the immediate needs of the population.

In the absence of these conditions, any targeting system is either likely to be so expensive that any saving realised by delivering a smaller quantity of food aid is eliminated, or the system will experience a scale of inclusion and exclusion error which invalidates any attempt at targeting in the first place.

People on the move challenge how food and can be delivered

In practice, biased assessment and definition of needs can undermine the primary principle of targeting

Ensuring that resources are received according to need is the main reason for targeting food aid and indeed, is supported by human rights principles of non-discrimination, impartiality and equity. In practice, agencies assessing needs have their own 'needs agenda', often have pre-determined their intervention (based on the financial and material resources available to them), and choose methods of assessment which provide recommendations to support their plans. This means that in practice, emergency affected populations' needs are not always assessed in an objective manner. The result is often targeting which does not address real needs.

Inclusion and exclusion errors occur at all levels

Errors can occur at every stage of the targeting process and will never be entirely eliminated. Careful judgements on expected and acceptable errors should be made and factored into food aid planning.

Minimise errors by combining approaches

The best targeting systems which manage to minimise errors are those that employ multiple approaches simultaneously, e.g. community managed targeting combining communitydetermined and administrative criteria, targeting some households according to socio-economic criteria and targeting malnourished children with a feeding programme to ensure a safety net for those excluded from the household distribution.

Minimise errors by applying key principles

This supplement has shown that participation of varying degrees by the community in the process is an essential prerequisite for effective targeting. Targeting can be specifically improved by involving women in the process. The tension between participation of powerful groups, and the threat the same groups may pose to the integrity of a targeting system, will be felt and should influence the system design.Transparency in the use of information and in communicating the details of the targeting system to the affected community is another prerequisite for success.

The lack of monitoring and evaluation data on targeting is a real barrier to progress

There are some examples in this supplement where programmes have attempted new innovative approaches, building on the key principles in order to apply targeting in contexts which may have previously been considered unsuitable. It is only through careful documentation of robust monitoring data that practice can move on and new approaches be validated and more widely adopted. This supplement should serve as a call for more, and better, monitoring and evaluation of targeting.

Imported from FEX website


About This Article

Article type: 
Special section

Download & Citation

Recommended Citation
Citation Tools