Paper presented by Pida Ripley, M.A. AKC,
WomenAid International at
Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia 7 December 1995
International welcomes this initiative on the part of World Food Programme,
(WFP) and CBIHA to gather together implementing partners to share
information and exchange views on both theory and practise.
For this first session I propose to provide general background
information illustrated with the recent experiences of WomenAid International
in both Svaneti and Abkhazeti.
disintegration of the former Soviet Union from the late 1991 has created
major disruptions and economic breakdown in the Caucasus region. The
social upheavals which have followed independence, coupled with ethnic
tensions, have resulted in major armed conflicts, social dislocations,
massive population displacement and precipitous declines in the living
standards of large numbers of people.
primary aim of humanitarian agencies operating in Georgia is to
concentrate on the most immediate and urgent needs of people worst
affected by the conflicts in Abkhazia and Ossetia. These groups include:
refugees, returnees, displaced persons, some host families.
Other emergency needs have arisen as a result of the crumbling
economy which so far has not fulfilled earlier expectations of improvement
segments of other vulnerable categories are being assisted by a
humanitarian community attentive to the need to balance its assistance
between refugee/displaced populations and the other affected groups.
Recovery will take time and investment; in the meantime national
food security for Georgia as a (LIFD) Low Income Food Deficit Country,
will remain highly dependent on programme food aid for wheat and on
humanitarian aid to the poor and vulnerable.
has been a massive food entitlement decline (FED).
People need to purchase food but do not have the necessary cash or
other exchangeable resources to purchase it.
exactly the situation in Upper Svaneti. A mountainous region which has
lost virtually all of its income generating capacity - logging, tourism
etc. Additionally it has security problems.
During late summer there was a major wheat flour shortage and CBIHA
requested the assistance of the international community.
WomenAid International and WFP responded and a 42 day emergency
food assistance programme was speedily implemented during August.
HOW ARE BENEFICIARIES IDENTIFIED?
that limited resources are used in the most effective way and given only
to those most in need is a problem WFP and all agencies face in all the
countries in which they operate. It is essential to identify the
'vulnerable' or the 'poorest of the poor'.
Aid given to those who do not need it is not only a waste of resources, it can also be harmful.
is to provide the RIGHT assistance to the RIGHT people at the RIGHT time.
have a particular responsibility and therefore body
of ethics -and that centres on the individual beneficiary - without
regard to donor or host government. The raison d'etre of any NGO field
office is - the beneficiary.
It is not the NGO's role to protect governments by subsidizing the
services they should provide.
is undertaken on the nature and extent of need, people affected, the local
capacity to cope and priority requirements.
Many groups in the country have some claim to priority and indeed
most of the population is at risk from one factor or another.
specialists and social welfare practitioners agree that certain categories
in the population are especially vulnerable and in danger of slipping the
government and family safety net structures. Among these are the elderly,
orphans, disabled, inmates of institutions and hospital inpatients, women
as heads of households, the very poor from large families and refugees/IDPs.
Institution feeding is considered a priority in a country with
virtually no local government budgets to provide such social services.
normal prerequisites for emergency relief are simply that people are in
need and lives may be at risk.
Vulnerability is a relative concept in Georgia at the present time,
and could include those 99 per cent of the population with incomes close
to subsistence, any one of whom could one day to the next land in
financial disaster due to accident or illness.
is a function of largely belonging or not to families or kin. Few
people can manage on their own and whether and how they survive depends
very often on the help they receive from their extended family, kin,
friends and neighbours.
Community and family mechanisms already protect many who would
otherwise be food insecure.
Strong bonds of kinship protect family food security of many.
Whatever the disadvantages or benefits of an expanded family tradition the
system is certainly part of present survival techniques. The most
vulnerable are those with few or no kin, especially the displaced.
categories can be immediately singled out as at greater risk than others
precisely because they lack family support: Refugees from Abkahazia/Ossetia-
IDP's are the largest category of beneficiaries of WFP relief assistance;
elderly persons living by themselves; orphans and other children living in
ways of identifying vulnerable individuals through their access to money
and resources need to be developed. Armenia
has made some interesting advances with the development of PAROS
- a sophisticated computerised system to identify the most needy
families and monitor the aid contributions.
International is currently WFP's sole implementing partner in Armenia
where we are distributing food to approximately 250,000 vulnerable groups
indexation system for channeling humanitarian assistance to families at
risk throughout Armenia - Paros is one mechanism to define what poverty is
and who is vulnerable.
Out of 800,000 families about 625,000 families which considered
themselves as needy were registered and each family was given a 'social
In brief, the Paros system
categorises the level of vulnerability from questionnaires completed by
Presence of pensioners, orphans, disabled people, income level,
family size and, in some cases, the region of residence, all combine to
produce a cumulative vulnerability
total for each household - a number from 0-72.
Higher levels of vulnerability allow access to the social welfare
resources available for humanitarian assistance.
The system also allows such income transfers to be calculated as
increased family income, thus modifying their priority level to receive
major weakness of Paros is lack of information on incomes. People are
reluctant to give details of their income at any time, and more so in
circumstances of irregular and untaxed sources.
central concern of WFP and other aid agencies is how to tell which people
in which areas need food aid most. Geographical targeting is commonly used in allocating resources to
the poor and hungry.
Maps are produced showing areas of greatest need. For example, in
Bangladesh areas prone to famine were mapped but while the first indices
used were heavily based upon environmental factors, two subjective visual
elements were used: assessments of relative status according to local
dress and use of different building materials.
Such indicators are currently being used by the PAROS monitoring teams.
were categorized into three levels of distress (above average, high and
The map was then distributed to other agencies with field
experience in order to confirm the categorization of the districts.
Preparation of vulnerability or poverty maps encourage and help donors and governments to take greater account
of issues relating to food insecurity.
and poverty are not synonymous, although they are often closely related. There
are policy reasons for keeping the two terms separate.
Anti-poverty programmes are designed to raise incomes or
consumption, while anti-vulnerability programmes aim to reduce the chances
of a hazard having a serious or life threatening effect and to increase
relatively limited phenomenon in the artificially full employment and
egalitarian societies of the socialist era, poverty
has emerged as a major problem and the key topic of political debate. Such
debate often makes use of different concepts of poverty that, although
conceptually clear and politically legitimate, have very different
meanings and call for different policy responses.
income poverty, i.e. the objective shortage of income in relation to a
given normative threshold (the absolute poverty line) that generally
allows only the satisfaction of basic physiological and social needs;
income: the typical situation of those with unstable incomes that are only
one third above the absolute poverty line, which precludes full participation
in social life.
severe problems of data availability and comparability, it is obvious that
since 1989 poverty has escalated sharply in the CIS Republics and
especially in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan - all victims of conflict.
are the poor in transitional economies? The
composition of the poor has changed substantially during the transition.
while economic difficulties of the last 5.5 years have also affected the 'old
poor' ( members of large or single parent families, people with severe
disabilities, the elderly subsisting on negligible pensions) the biggest
increases in poverty have been recorded among the 'new
poor' - long-term unemployed, youth in search of first time
is difficult to understand the present employment situation in Georgia
without recourse to underemployment
as a concept.
Underemployment is the condition when a person is employed in the
sense of having some form of remunerate activity, however small, but the
employment is inadequate in relation to specified norms in terms of time
spent in employment, income or productivity. Until recently central
government still employed approximately 620,000 out of an estimated labour
force of 3 million or so.
Wages, and for the most part, attendance are nominal. Few of these
workers do a full day's work for a salary of $2 or $3 per month. They
scurry around for alternative sources of income, through petty trading,
driving for hire, private teaching, and similar. Since they still formally
have jobs, this category of worker appear nonetheless as 'employed' in
There is in fact little difference between the unemployed and the
employed - the dividing line is thin - a few hours a week - a few lari per
the level of wages paid by central government, social benefits and the like, no
more than two or three dollars monthly, the question to which there is no
satisfactory answer is how
do people manage to survive? Survival
means raising upwards of ninety dollars a month to feed a family of four
and keep them warm.
Committee for Statistical and Economic Information carried out a survey of
500 households in Tbilisi in both August and November 1994, asking about
income and sources of income.
Median income was 42,000 roubles (approximately $12), about one
eighth of the minimum requirements. Mean income was $27 reflecting that a few earn a lot of money, the
rest earn very little.
modelling a project the planning team collect adequate baseline data -What
is the minimum one needs to know before work can be initiated? They
consider government policies; local social and political structures and
hierarchies, and set objectives specifying the target groups, numbers and
was such a wide variation of beneficiary numbers it was clearly necessary
to undertake a full survey of vulnerable
groups in the Mestia Region. WAI sent three monitoring teams into the region and produced the
first complete survey of both the local population and IDP's.
This was to form the basis of our request for WFP food
for the region.
Additionally as we now hold a fully computerised database
profile of all people in the region we were able to remove 3000 overlaps .
of coverage was high - 81%. However the 19% omitted were extremely upset
as were the recipients. The 19% were omitted because they did not qualify
to be included in the various vulnerable groups supported by WFP - the
younger families with one, two or three children and young adults.
In every village we were requested, sometimes hotly, to give food
to theses people also. We were unable to do so. Certainly we will not be
able to make another distribution of food in the region without resolving
going to the field the planning team review existing data sources
concerning the current political-economic, food and nutritional situation
in the region.
In the case of WomenAid International's Mestia project documents
included assessment reports and surveys from UNICEF , CARE and the regional administration.
KEY INFORMANT INTERVIEWS are
also conducted with local people, administrators, teachers - people who
have special insights.
International monitors found these interviews particularly helpful.
projects require a preliminary needs assessment - such as a RAPID
FOOD SECURITY ASSESSMENT.
Knowledge gained through secondary data review, key informant
interviews lead to revision of the initial topical outline or interview
RFSA model can tell you a great deal about the context of the programme.
There are four main objectives:
Define who the vulnerable groups are - IDP's
& Local population
Analyse the causes and extent of vulnerability -
Lack of income, security
Determine what are the location specific indicators - Regional/Security
Define what are the most appropriate interventions - 42
Day /210 Day Emergency
There is a need to develop methods of
targeting the nutritionally vulnerable. The traditional nutritional
vulnerable groups are not appropriate in all circumstances.
food aid is the most direct means of conveying nutritional benefits: needs
are usually not complex, the time frame is often limited, sustainability
is not an issue and it is clear who is in need. For refugees and displaced
persons the nutritional situation and the actions needed are more complex.
food supplies are inadequate, nutrition gaps exist.
Importantly, individuals within the family can be malnourished even
when the household as a whole has access to adequate food.
Anyone who is poor or otherwise disadvantaged socially runs the
risk of malnourishment or malnutrition.
Children are particularly at risk.
Children under 5 are especially vulnerable to a
malnutrition/infectious disease cycle- being undernourished makes them
more susceptible to infections - infections and parasites make them prone
to malnutrition. Poor nutrition in early life can handicap them for the
rest of the lives. This
is why pre-school sand school supplementary feeding programmes have been
implemented throughout the world by UN agencies. WomenAid International is
implementing such a programme - in kindergartens throughout Georgia.
FOR THE FUTURE:
CONSTRAINTS & CHALLENGES
would have been unrealistic in Georgia to try and achieve objectives of
sustainable human development. The Government has been preoccupied with
emergencies, such as civil uprising, banditry, major food and energy
The best that can be done in present circumstances is to :
identify objectives that are relatively cheap and cost effective
target vulnerable groups
improve our ability to target effectively we perhaps need to think about
food aid in terms of food security concepts.
is the root cause of food insecurity.
Food security exists when all people at all times have access to
food they need for a healthy active life.
Achieving food security depends upon the key factors of :-
availability, access, stability. There are five basic food security
SECURITY - defined as the sum total of the socio-economic, cultural,
physical behavioural conditions that effect nutritional outcomes.
SECURITY - is attained when households have secure ownership of, or
access to, resources and income earning activities, including reserves and
assets to offset risks, ease shocks and meet contingencies.
SECURITY - defined as the capacity of a household to procure a stable
and sustainable basket of adequate food. Adequate means
"nutritionally and culturally acceptable". Stable means
"available across seasons and transitory shortages". Sustainable
is defined in terms of resource use, maintenance of productive assets,
self reliance and livelihood needs.
ENTITLEMENTS - is gaining access to food through a combination of
sources, such as production, exchange (market and non-market) sale of
labour or assets and food aid. Three related concepts :
security promotion: improving the resilience of livelihoods to meet
food and other basic needs on a sustainable basis
security protection: protecting household livelihood systems to
prevent an erosion of productive assets to assist in their recovery
security provisioning: providing food access to the households to
maintain nutritional levels or save lives.
ANALYSIS - Food systems analysis are all the key factors an processes
involved in determining the availability, flow and consumption of food in
a particular society. Macro level analysis should focus on broad policy
and structural issues whilst micro level analysis should focus on
livelihood systems, coping strategies and consumption patterns.
These five concepts underpin any strategic framework for promoting
Household Food Security and Nutritional Security.
are three distinct food security interventions:
PROMOTION INTERVENTIONS deal with policy, structural and resource allocation decisions such
as land use, efficient commodity market, credit availability and
INTERVENTIONS focus on protection of assets and livelihoods. Interventions
involve food and income transfers that can reduce long term
vulnerabilities such as being forced to sell productive assets to meet
immediate food needs.
involve relief for people in an emergency or people who are
chronically vulnerable. These are often long term in nature. Targeting is
critical and should be combined with promotion interventions where
FOOD SECURITY INDICATORS
are three basic types of indicators for use in planning and monitoring of
food aid programmes:
food insecurity indicators address resource access and socio-economic
problems which contribute to chronic food insecurity. Some are structural
indicators which can help in targeting basic reforms.
food indicators :- available indicators, access indicators and outcome indicators.
three types of indicators address time periods:
indicators: provide early warnings,
indicators: focus on the immediate situation,
indicatorsdescribe the consequences or impact of food
indicators: focus on programme performance e.g. consumption,
of 'income adequacy': In Hungary the cases of pawning rose
by one third between 1990 and 1992, while in Yerevan, Armenia, the number
of pawnshops rose from two prior to the reforms to 12 in 1994.
for food aid is likely to grow. However past experience has shown that the
actual amount of food aid provided is hard to forecast. It will not be
influenced by demand alone. Other factors include the level of food
production and public stocks in donor countries, world market prices and
donor's assistance objectives.
barriers and shortage of resources are major obstacles to doing more and
to doing it better. The overwhelming majority of emergency resources are
tied and designated by donors and provided on an ad hoc basis.
This places major constraints on the ability to programme
activities that link relief and development.
handouts should be minimized in favour of the adoption of more selective
interventions that no longer distinguish between internally displaced
people and vulnerable group categories. Using poverty mapping, the poorest
communities and people should be selected.
and hungry require both relief and development assistance.
a division between the two categories is not helpful to those in need.
Relief assistance alone does not strengthen the capacity of poor
people to cope with the next emergency. If the most vulnerable people in
society are not given longer term and targeted assistance, necessary to
become more self-sufficient, the need for relief aid will not decrease.
balance of assistance to developing countries has shifted sharply from long-term
development to short term relief. The share of aid budgets
devoted to disaster relief and humanitarian aid has increased by more than
500 percent since the early eighties.
half of all UN funds are now allocated to emergencies.
shifting balance between relief and development activities is causing a diversion of much needed resources for
development to meet crises - but it is only part of the problem. How can
relief assistance provide support to development efforts? How can development
aid, at the national and community levels, incorporate features to
mitigate possible future crises?
pro-active concepts are mooted:
elements that strengthen disaster mitigation into development projects
disaster preparedness by vulnerability mapping, early warning systems
and institutional development
capacity building elements within relief operations:
example, WomenAid International, as the WFP implementing partner in
Armenia, has agreed to establish a training component within the programme
and thus will train nationals to become logisticians who will eventually
be handling the warehousing, transportation and distribution of food
commodities throughout Armenia.
considering the Relief-Development Continuum, it is important to remember
that although some groups can be moved successfully from dependency to
development there are limits to targeting developmental activities among
the most vulnerable groups.
key issue is where
are the critical leverage points for moving back up the continuum from
relief toward development? It may be necessary to scale back on relief to
allow more resources for development interventions. What
are the trade-offs? Which programmes will be abandoned?
between WFP/CBIHA and agencies will be strengthened by increased sharing
Major reviews and revisions of food aid policies and programmes are
being undertaken by donors and agencies. The process of information
exchange is now starting to expand into the area of strategy coordination.
first cause of hunger and malnutrition is poverty."
So declared the 1943 Hot Springs, Virginia Meeting convened by
Roosevelt. It was the precursor of the creation of the FAO - the first of
the UN specialised agencies.
It is still true today.
I suggest some questions and topics for exploration during the workshop.
security framework is helpful in integrating food and development
programmes. It provides greater focus to the household level by
orienting success and impact measures to households. This can lead to
effectiveness of food aid programmes, especially as they relate to
food security is an important issue.
WFP identified its strategy vis-à-vis emergency and development, and
stated where food security fits in?
funding for food programmes acknowledge the continuum and therefore
not separate relief and development.
Is a broader view required?
WFP/ECHO re-examined its definitions, for example, of emergencies, and
how they fit into the phases on the continuum leading toward
is the WFP view on food security? Should it be treated as a separate
issue/goal or integrated into other development activities?
food the most useful resource in implementing some programmes or is it
a substitute for money. Priority of monetization is unclear.
should provide guidance on the minimum requirements for programme
assessments, as well as maximum cost parameters.
surveying and assessment work will pose further problems for NGO's.
The lack of resources to gather data, the lack of qualified
staff and other factors make it difficult since NGOs don't have the
tools to do the job.
are three traditional categories of food aid :-relief, project, and
non-project or programme - what can we anticipate the future balance
we decide what to do in a given situation, the biggest problem is how
do we measure whether we have been successful.