This section clarifies targeting issues. First of all, it underlines the importance of selecting specific types of beneficiaries, in accordance with the humanitarian principles. Then it provides an overview of the different types of targeting, including examples of tools that can be used.


HRAction aimed at granting special protection and assistance for particularly vulnerable groups or individuals is not contrary but complementary to the principle of non-discrimination.FACPay attention to the particular nutritional needs of children. IFRCAid is given regardless of the race, creed or nationality of the recipients and without adverse distinction of any kind. Aid priorities are calculated on the basis of need alone. SPHEREFood should be targeted to the people assessed to be most in need: the most acutely food insecure and malnourished individuals.

How to target?

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:

Ensuring that those eligible are not excluded. Ensuring that those not eligible are excluded. Ensuring that there is a way to recognise the necessary characteristic, and that its use is politically, socially and culturally acceptable, as well as practically manageable, in the given context.

Types of targeting

GeoGeographical targeting is the first step in a targeting process: it defines the location affected by a shock and where affected populations are.
Geographical targeting should describe he severity of the impact of the shock in food security terms, the ways in which people have been affected and possible responses, the magnitude / numbers of people affected.
It is appropriate when there are identifiable differences between the intended target and non-target population, the targeted population is a minority, it is operationally feasible to implement a targeted distribution and the community co-operates with the targeting strategy.
Tools for geographical targeting are assessments, comparable over space and time, which determine the severity, magnitude and physical location of the affected population, such as IPC (the gold standard); EFSA, maintained by WFP; VACs in Southern Africa; HEA seasonal updates, such as Sahel
statusTargeting by status means targeting a group of people on the basis of a vulnerability conferred by their status (such as refugees or IDPs). This modality does not differentiate between individual or households within the group and can be difficult to adjust over time or to switch to other forms of targeting. households Targeting households is the most common form of targeting after geographical targeting. It usually takes into consideration socio economic status, health (especially in the case of HIV/AIDS), nutritional status (with activities referred to a family or protection ration) or gender (female headed households), but should be made on the basis of assessed food security status.
The eligibility criteria to receive humanitarian support may be determined by a formal survey or assessment, but must be clear and checkable. According to Sphere standards, such criteria should be agreed by both recipients and non-recipients.
The tools for targeting households may be determined by outsiders, such as HEA and PMTF (Proxy Means Testing Framework) or community-based.
Community-based targeting Community-based targeting is the most common form of household targeting and is based on proxy indicators which can be used by the community to select beneficiaries. These tools are cheap but prone to abuse, therefore they need to be improved by rigorous validation (community meetings) and external presence.
individuals Individual targeting is usually due to inadequate support at household level and is targeted on the basis of:
- nutritional status, through anthropometric measures such as weight for height or MUAC;
- health status (TB, HIV, etc.), which can be difficult unless there is the possibility of relying on an accurate ways to identify beneficiaries, such as a TB clinic;
- pregnant and breastfeeding women, through CBT;
- disabled, elderly or other vulnerable person.
selfIn self targeting there is no eligibility criteria: people decide for themselves whether or not to take advantage of the assistance offered, depending on whether they need it and what they must do to get it. Typical examples are distributions conditional upon work (Food for Work, Cash for work) or market based criteria such as price subsidy.
It is important to remember that work based criteria may place burden on most vulnerable or least able to work.

Complex emergencies

Targeting in complex emergencies is inherently difficult. Access may often make it impossible to target beyond the district or livelihood zone. Registration lists may not be updated. Complex protection issues need to be taken into account.

Furthermore, the likelihood and, in some contexts, acceptable practice of assistance later being shared or redistributed, post-distribution, according to household or social norms, needs to be acknowledged and considered.
This should influence the design of the operation, the setting of the levels of assistance to be provided, and the rigor of pre-distribution targeting expected.
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.

Time considerations

In addition to determining «who» should receive assistance, and «where», due consideration should be given to the timing of humanitarian food assistance actions («when» and «for how long») to ensure that they are implemented when they are most needed, and when they can have most impact and do least harm.

Quantitative and qualitative considerations

Needs-based programme design should then ensure optimal appropriateness of «what» and «how much» is provided, in terms of both the nature of the transfer itself (e.g. the ration composition, the amount of cash required, or the cash-in-kind ratio), and the quantity (e.g. the ration size, or the cash value).

Targeting training

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