Community - based targeting in Kenya
Summary of evaluation1
At the end of 2002, an evaluation of community based targeted distributions (CBTD) of general rations was carried out in Kenya, in order to derive lessons for it's future application in Kenya and elsewhere. The evaluation set out to determine CBTD efficacy in delivering food assistance, in an accountable and transparent manner, to households targeted according to their vulnerability from 2000-2002. CBTD effectiveness was compared with systems previously operated in Kenya and in drought emergencies in other countries.
Four districts were visited over a one month period (Mandera, Wajir, Laikipia and Turkana). Here, discussions were held with members of the District Steering Group/ District Social Dimensions of Development Committee (DSG/DSDDC), the World Food Programme (WFP), lead agencies and the Arid Lands Resource Management Project (ALRMP). The majority of district time was spent in rural areas, in focus group discussions with Relief Committees (RC) and members of the community (men and women were interviewed separately). In each district, the consultants aimed to visit all the different livelihood zones, and within each livelihood zone, select two RCs - one which had been functioning well and another which had faced difficulties. Due to time constraints this was not always possible. In Nairobi, the consultants had discussions with the national level stakeholders e.g. the WFP, government representatives from ALRMP and the Relief and Rehabilitation Department, Unicef, and representatives from lead agencies.
Main evaluation findings
The CBTD was a huge improvement compared to the previously implemented relief intervention by the Government of Kenya (GoK), which suffered from 'leakage' and the fact that the most needy did not always receive the food. However, when the Kenya CBTD was compared with the CBTD experiences in Singida and Dodoma, Tanzania, it was relatively less successful. The main reasons for this were:
- The poverty levels of the drought-affected areas in Kenya were considerably higher and the wealth differentials within the community were marginal.
- In many of the affected areas, sharing resources during times of hardship is an important cultural practice and a traditional coping mechanism.
- The assumption by national policy makers that not all households were badly affected by drought and so did not require food aid, was contrary to the community's perception.
- According to the stated objectives of the CBTD in Kenya, the target population included the nutritionally vulnerable (saving lives) and those who still had assets (protecting livelihoods), and so arguably included the majority of the population within the communities.
Given these factors, it was unrealistic - and even inappropriate - to expect community elected Relief Committees (RCs) to target communities by excluding certain households. The reality of what actually happened could best be described as a blanket distribution at the community level.
There was overwhelming consensus that the community elected Relief Committee was an effective mechanism for community distributions. They encouraged community participation and transparency and were generally accountable to their community. Some RCs had, however, difficulty implementing certain components of the CBTD, such as encouraging communities to fulfill the various distribution tasks on a voluntary basis, or securing women's involvement which, at times, could best be described as tokenism. There was also some concern as to whether all the RCs (even when RCs were large in number) truly represented all the people connected to their distribution site - in particular, the mobile pastoralists, as it was impractical for them to be RCs members, and other minority groups.
Reassessment of the targeting criteria and beneficiaries did not occur as extensively as planned for the following reasons:
- According to the communities perception, there were very few households, if any, who were receiving food aid and recovered sufficiently to no longer be considered vulnerable.
- Limited funds were available for the reassessment exercise.
- Attempting to revise the registration lists every 3 months, when assessors were aware re-distribution would probably occur anyway, seemed a futile exercise.
- It was a huge undertaking for the communities and the implementing agencies.
- If unregistered new arrivals were considered to be as vulnerable as registered households, the community preferred to agree to share their food aid ration with them rather than revising the registration list.
The DSG/DSDDC proved to be an effective mechanism for co-ordinating relief activities. However, the lack of resources for GoK members of the DSG/DSDDC was a frustration and, at times, prevented them from fulfilling all of their responsibilities.
Redistribution of the food aid occurred extensively, however it was not possible in this review to discern the proportion of the food ration that was not consumed by the household but used for other purposes. The communities believed redistribution was an effective strategy to ensure all vulnerable households received food assistance and that this improved the efficiency of the targeting strategy.
1A review of the community based targeting and distribution system used in Kenya 2000-2002. Final report Nov 2002. Submitted by Acacia Consultants Ltd
Taken from Field Exchange Issue 19, July 2003