Single Form and the HFA checklist

In this section we will see which are the information to be included in the Single Form and how to use the HFA checklist at the moment of preparing a food assistance proposal.

Food assistance proposals submitted to DG ECHO should provide a set of clear and specific information. For this purpose, DG ECHO developed an HFA check list.
But first, let’s see some slides giving an idea of the template to be used to submit a proposal to DG ECHO: the Single Form Format, that is accessible through the APPEL system only.

In order to know which are the information to be provided in this document, the partner should make reference to the Single Form Guidelines (always check for the latest version, available on the DG ECHO partners’ website, under the tab Reference Documents).
As per all the other DG ECHO funded actions, Food Assistance related proposals have to be submitted using the Single Form. In this module, the focus is on the sections to which it is advisable to pay special attention when preparing an HFA proposal. We invite you to look at the following slides, and to find out more guidance on how to fill in the Single Form on the DG ECHO Partners’ Website.

A good needs assessment is vital for the success of the Action. DG ECHO is a needs based donor and funding allocations are based on the evaluation of needs. This chapter will help DG ECHO to understand whether the needs assessment has been done in a timely manner, and whether the information and data are reliable. It will give also the possibility to check whether the partner has identified potential risks. DG ECHO will also check whether the proposed Action is coherent with DG ECHO’s own evaluation of needs and whether the proposed intervention addresses the actual problems of the beneficiaries. Finally, this chapter assesses whether the Action is in line with DG ECHO’s intended response, strategy, priorities for the country/crisis (HIP) and whether the Action is compliant with DG ECHO’s mandate and coherent with its policy priorities.

Provide information on when the latest needs assessment was carried out. Briefly explain by whom, how and in which conditions the most recent assessment was carried out, whether it was a joint/coordinated assessment, and whether it was shared with other agencies, whether the assessment used direct or indirect sources of information (primary or secondary data) and whether the information could be confirmed by a field visit. In the same section the partner should also specify if in the country there is in place a monitoring information system such as IPC, FEWSNET, nutrition data, etc.

The needs assessments and causal analysis that DG ECHO expect to see here should be as accurate and up to date as possible.
In this section, the partner should indeed describe the impact of the shock in terms of household/individual's food deficit and quality of food intake, giving a special attention to the specific nutritional needs of those defined as vulnerable groups, including the children, pregnant and lactating women (PLW), elderly and people living with HIV/AIDS.
Moreover, the partner should identify which wealth category of population and/or livelihood are at risk of food insecurity, if there are any other particularly vulnerable sections of the community providing any information on the critical period of deficit or on seasonality of food insecurity (and malnutrition). Furthermore, it should be indicated here in which zones are the most affected.
  On the basis of the identified needs, the partner should describe the response analysis, where it must outline its strategy to address the identified problems. The partner will also explain how the proposed response addresses the specific needs of the affected persons and how the proposed response is coherent with the priorities defined in the DG ECHO's funding decision/HIP.
In this section, it will also identify adequate modalities for resource transfers, in-kind vs. cash transfer, considering which specific objective of the DG ECHO HFA are addressed: food access, availability, utilization, livelihood, capacity building, etc. When describing the selected response, the partner should also briefly explain why other possible responses were not chosen. If there is any market analysis, information such as EMMA that could support programming, as well as understanding of vulnerability and targeting, it should be explained here.
The partner should also precise the protection measures that are going to be mainstreamed and/or integrated in the food assistance action (at least "do no harm" and freedom of movement).

In the section about beneficiaries, ECHO wants to verify the pertinence of the identification of the beneficiaries and their vulnerability.

In particular, the partner is asked to provide the estimated number of direct beneficiaries and a breakdown per gender and age. Recognising that detailed disaggregation is difficult at initial stage, the partner can use global figures and reasonable estimates.
The partner should provide information on the coverage rate (targeted beneficiaries vs people in needs on a certain area), and the average size of the households.

This section allows ECHO to identify whether the proposed Action as a whole specifically targets certain groups of vulnerabilities and to assess whether this corresponds to the findings of the needs assessment. It is possible to select several groups, but not all.



At the project level, targeting can be done according to a variety of methodologies, which vary in practicality and effectiveness, according to the context.
Limited resources always require that humanitarian food assistance is well targeted so that it is used only where it is most urgently required, by those that most need it.

Therefore, a balance needs to be struck between speed, ease and practicality on one side, and effectiveness in reducing inclusion and exclusion errors on the other, with targeting criteria that are optimally sensitive, specific, and feasible. According to this, where needs are uniform and spread across the majority of a population group, assistance can be delivered most effectively and most efficiently, on a blanket basis, for example, to everyone, or to all individuals fulfilling an easily-defined criteria, such as age.
However, more often than not, crises affect different people in different ways, resulting in variations, within a population group, in the nature and depth of need. In these circumstances, careful targeting of assistance is critical to ensure that resources are used with maximum effectiveness and efficiency.
The Commission accepts that humanitarian food assistance is usually targeted on a geographical basis, and then expects it to be directed on the basis of socio-economic, physical, or anthropometric measures of food insecurity or nutritional vulnerability, depending on the context and the means by which needs have been identified and analysed.

Once the beneficiaries have been identified and described, the partner should describe their involvement in the action, to demonstrate how the accountability to beneficiaries is concretely implemented.

In particular, the partner must explain how and by what means the beneficiaries were involved in the design of the Action, the mechanisms put in place to ensure participation of the affected populations in the identification of needs, the design of the Action and further on in the implementation and evaluation of the Action.
This means that, wherever possible, the partners should involve beneficiary communities in identifying the criteria by which food-assistance can be most effectively targeted and when relevant, the partner will indicate whether the relevant gender and age groups adequately participated in the design of the Action.
Partner should precise the complaints’ mechanism that will be implemented. DG ECHO wants to verify the pertinence of the identification of the beneficiaries and their vulnerability (needs and not status based approach) which should integrate people who would face protection risks (check the dedicated topic on protection).

This section is one of the key sections of the single Form.
The information provided in this section will be used to assess the quality of the logic of intervention.
It is used to ensure the accuracy of the logic of intervention, whether there is a clear link between the needs identified previously, the pre-conditions, the risks, the assumption, the activities, the results, the specific and principal objectives and the costs.
More information available

Quality Markers are tools assessing to what extent each funded humanitarian action integrates considerations such as gender and age or resilience.
More information available here.

This chapter offers the possibility to explain how resources (human resources, supplies and time, etc.) will be mobilised to ensure a successful implementation of the Action.
More information available here.

Are you looking for specific indications on indicators?
Please check the specific section

Another relevant aspect to be considered in the framework of HFA proposals, is Coordination, that is to be detailed in the section 7 of the Single Form.

Coordination in the Single Form refers to the coordination with other humanitarian Actors, with Local Authorities and with development actors and programmes.

As concerns the coordination with other Humanitarian Actors, the Commission encourages the participation of its partners in humanitarian food assistance specific operational coordination forums at field level (i.e. food security clusters or working groups both at central and local levels). Partners are strongly encouraged, whenever feasible and appropriate, to contribute to the national vulnerability assessments on food and nutrition security (i.e. Cadre harmonisé, IPC, etc).

This should span emergency, transitional and developmental needs simultaneously, and should promote enabling conditions linked to good governance and conducive national and international policies.

LRRD should be pursued to the end of ensuring optimal impact for shared beneficiaries, and not solely to ensure a handover / exit strategy for humanitarian actors. In particular, humanitarian food assistance interventions should always be designed and implemented in close coordination with the Commission’s country and regional support strategies.

The purpose of this chapter is, on the one hand, to demonstrate that monitoring procedures in place are conducive enough to verify the correct implementation of the action. On the other hand, the partner needs to inform ECHO of Action specific evaluation/audits for which funding is requested.
More information can be found here.

This section has the objective, on the one hand, to demonstrate that monitoring procedures in place are conducive enough to verify the correct implementation, effectiveness and efficiency of the action. On the other hand, the partner needs to inform ECHO of Action specific evaluation/audits for which funding is requested.

In pursuit of transparency, accountability and effectiveness, the Commission will strive to ensure that all humanitarian food assistance actions that the EU finances are designed around targets and outcome indicators that will be routinely monitored and should form the basis of systematic reporting by the partner, as well as any internal or external evaluation of the operation.
Where available, nutritional information and data should be monitored and reviewed within all food assistance operations. Where operations specifically seek to address malnutrition, nutritional outcome-indicators will be fully incorporated into the project cycle and log-frame. Result-oriented monitoring, evaluation and reporting exercises will be analysed alongside more qualitative narrative reporting, not only to appraise the performance and outcome of a given intervention, but also to learn lessons which will be fed into the design, programming decisions and implementation of future operations.
Adequate approach and resources for M&E are necessary and should be clarified in the SF.

HFA check list available at this link.

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HFA overview


HFA toolbox




Gender and HFA






Food utilisation




Market Assesment


HFA Indicators