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Issue 02 Editorial

Welcome to the second edition of Field Exchange . We are happy to report that the feedback following the first issue was very positive. It seems like the style, content and scope of the newsletter hits the mark with many of you.

A lot of comments, however, came from agency headquarters rather than from the field. This was very useful, but it is something we would like to balance with a lot more field input. This is why we are enclosing a short questionnaire which we hope you will complete. We would like to know what you think about the content, style, and design of the newsletter. For example, which sections you liked best and why, or if there are other sections which you would like to see included. We have provided an addressed envelope so please take the time to fill in the questionnaire and send it back. Remember, this is your newsletter and if enough of you want some form of change then we will do our best to tailor it to your needs.

The Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN), not wanting to lag behind the computer tech age of web surfers and cyber kids, is currently setting up a web page. Electronic media undoubtedly makes information exchange easy, quick and cheap. Through this medium Field Exchange articles will be accessible to personnel based at agency headquarters and other institutions with these facilities. In the next issue we will give full web site details.

The current format devotes about two thirds of newsletter space to field level articles, research and evaluation summaries and the rest to an array of news items, letters and interviews. In this current issue we have added a section on guidelines for the special focus topic - emergency supplementary feeding. This is a collage of excerpts from three recent guidelines in use.

Another aspect of the newsletter is the level of debate which takes place within these pages. As we all know disagreement and lack of consensus among the players in humanitarian assistance is not uncommon. But, while we want to represent existing debate accurately we feel it important that this is done in a constructive way. Through discussion of agency constraints, policies, and practices in this newsletter improved understanding and co-operation between operational partners may emerge. Through constructive open debate it is hoped that critical bottlenecks and constraints in the humanitarian agency system can be identified and overcome.

As this newsletter's special focus is emergency supplementary feeding programmes, three of our five field articles are connected in some way with SFPs. Production of Pre-cooked Fortified Blended Food in Kenya: a success story, by Goete Hertz is about how local production of supplementary feeding blended foods was established in Kenya.The article shows how it is feasible to set up this type of local production capacity, especially with an initial kick start from aid agencies. once established this type of business can survive even in the face of competition in the form of free donations from donor agencies. The experience raises a number of questions. For example, should newly established businesses, which could strengthen local emergency response capacity, be protected from what many might see as 'unfair' donor competition while getting started. Conversely, does this type of support for a local business confer an unfair advantage over local competitors? Given the uncertain nature of donor supplies of blended foods, so often witnessed in previous emergency programmes, expanding local production capacity may be a route to take in future years. Michael Byrne and Annalies Borrel from Concern have written a piece about providing supplementary rations for prisoners in Rwanda. This type of supplementary feeding programme is a departure from more traditional forms of programme and shows how the objectives and design of what many classify as supplementary feeding is constantly evolving as the nature of emergencies change.

Impact of food delays on refugees, written by Lina Pane, an Oxfam food researcher is about the effects of general ration delays and reductions caused by insecurity and reduced donor support on refugees in Uganda. As food deliveries worsened and shortages occurred, refugees were forced into more and more compromising coping strategies e.g. theft, prostitution, increasing indebtedness and sale of key assets. The fact that refugees are not 'reimbursed' for rations retrospectively raises an important issue. In some situations, when shortfalls are not made up refugees/IDPs remain disadvantaged in some way, e.g. in debt or without key assets, so that long-term programme goals of encouraging self- sufficiency will have been seriously set back.

These are just a few of the issues that we feel are important and that come out of this edition's articles. We are sure that you will come across many others that stimulate debate between you and your colleagues. If the issues are worth discussing, why not write and let us in on the 'exchange' through a letter.

Happy reading !

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Issue 02 Editorial. Field Exchange 2, August 1997. p1. www.ennonline.net/fex/2/fromtheeditor