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Comparative Experiences of Community Managed Targeting in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Malawi

Monitoring food distribution in Zimbabwe

Summary of an evaluation by Save the Children UK and Tulane University reviewing their experiences of utilising the Community Managed Targeting Distribution (CMTD) approach in Southern Africa1.

SC UK recently conducted an evaluation of the Community Managed Targeting Distribution (CMTD) approach to food aid targeting in three countries; Tanzania (1998-99, in Singida and Dodoma regions), Zimbabwe (2001-3, in Binga, Kariba and Zvimba districts) and Malawi (2002-3, in Salima and Mchinji Districts). CMTD is an approach designed to enhance community participation in, and leadership of, the distribution process. It is based upon the principle that beneficiary communities themselves are best placed both to identify and target the most vulnerable or crisisaffected households in their communities, as well as to undertake and manage the distribution process itself.

Women carrying food from distrubution site

The three country settings varied considerably. The Tanzania programme was designed to protect livelihoods in populations facing repeated adverse seasons; the Malawi programme aimed to prevent nutritional deterioration in what was perceived to be a rapidly worsening food security crisis; and the Zimbabwe programme aimed to prevent deterioration in a similar agricultural context to Malawi, but compounded with a highly complex political, agricultural and economic climate. The CMTD approach was adapted to each context giving rise to significant differences in 1) the targeting guidelines developed for project staff to follow; 2) the issues that arose; 3) the targeting procedures actually followed in the field; and 4) success of the programmes as defined by various types of monitoring data.

The author of the evaluation undertook a comprehensive review of reports related to these programmes, both those written by SC UK and those written by external evaluation consultants. Key informant interviews were also held with SC UK programme staff for each of the country programmes. Gaps in the monitoring data were identified and highlighted in the evaluation report. There were five major conclusions from the evaluation. These were as follows:

  1. Due largely to contextual factors (political, social, cultural), Tanzania and Malawi were best able to achieve true community managed targeting and distribution. In contrast, the Zimbabwe programme diverged from the original CMTD protocols in the face of a very complex and challenging political environment. In this case the control of food resources was (and continues to be) highly politicised and decision-making responsibili ty more centralised in the hands of local authorities. This required SC UK Zimbabwe to develop innovative mechanisms for promoting accountability of decision makers to beneficiaries.
  2. While CMTD requires less agency staff involvement during the distribution process itself than traditional agency-run distribution programmes, the initial sensitisation of government leaders and targeted communities can be quite time-consuming. The process involves village level public meetings at the outset to ensure full community participation. It also involves establishing partner ships with central, district and local leaders and the transfer of responsibility from formal leaders to community members or community based committees.
  3. Considerable effort was invested in establishing a detailed Household Economy Assessment (HEA)-based needs assessment as a foundation for developing appropriate target criteria. However beneficiary communities diverged from these criteria to some degree according to local perceptions of need. In Zimbabwe, for example, 70-81% of households were under-registered. There were also many reports of insufficient food supply relative to need leading to a degree of community support for redistribution. Redistribution of food aid from targeted poor households to those who are better off was also believed by some to promote long-term food security of the community, given the vital role of the better off in supporting the poor. In addition many of those who were appropriately targeted shared their food with others. In Tanzania, over 15% of the food was consumed by individuals considered to be outside of the household.
  4. Where circumstances are appropriate for the implementation of CMTD, it should be considered due to its relative success (such as in Tanzania) and the potential long-term community benefits of local programme management and participatory decision-making. CMTD will be most feasible where the agency has a long term presence in the target community and the programme is directed towards livelihood support rather than prevention of mortality in an acute emergency.
  5. Additional field-level research should be conducted on how CMTD might be implemented more quickly, given the clear benefits of community managed targeting in the era of HIV/AIDS and the urgency of finding means of targeting HIV/AIDS affected households. Increasingly, implementing agencies report that targeting households with AIDS-related vulnerability is difficult in the field. CMTD allows communities them selves to target such vulnerable households without requiring outside agencies to seek documentation of beneficiaries' HIV status. Communities themselves are best placed to identify those in need of assistance, and CMTD allows communities to identify and target the chronically ill without the administrative, stigmatising, burden of identifying PLWHA explicitly.

For further information, contact Anna Taylor, email: a.taylor@savethechildren.org.uk

Show footnotes

1Community Managed Targeting and Distribution of Food Aid: A review of experiences of SC UK in southern Africa by Ellen Mathys. December 2003

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Reference this page

Comparative Experiences of Community Managed Targeting in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Malawi. Field Exchange 23, November 2004. p21. www.ennonline.net/fex/23/comparative