Issue 04 Editorial
Welcome to another issue of Field Exchange.
Before we comment on the articles we have for you in this issue, we would
like to share some of the feedback we received through our readership survey.
Generally, we are happy to see that you the readers (or at least those
of you who responded so far) do like Field Exchange. Eighteen months after
its set up the ENN distributes 1100 copies of Field Exchange to over 80
countries worldwide. The response rate to the questionnaire included in
the last two issues was about 30% from those on our mailing list, and 10%
from the bulk copies we provide through agency headquarters. Thanks to
all of you who took the time to let us know what you think, and for those
who did not we would still welcome your views at any time.
Eighty three percent felt that ENN enhanced
the exchange of field level experiences either 'well' (45%) or 'very well'
(38%). Eighty two percent indicated that through this publication, they
felt either 'well' (43%), or 'very well' (37%) informed of current research.
This was particularly so for the agency HQ's (80%) and field worker groups
(84%), compared with 74% of the academic group.
Field Exchange sections were scored out of
10 for both usefulness and interest. As can be seen from figures 1 and
articles,research and evaluation sections received the highest scores.
Letters, agency profile and 'What became of' (which we have dropped) scored
lowest. When scores for interest were given, field articles, research and
news did best - with agency profile and 'what became of' lagging behind.
Field workers gave slightly higher scores across sections than did the
HQ staff and academic staff.
More than half of you felt that the length
of the articles was just right, with most of the rest stating that it should
depend on the article subject. Language and style seemed to be popular
for most of you. Practically everyone felt that they had learnt something
through reading the Newsletter. Each article published was cited at least
once as someone's favourite.
On the research section 81% of responders
felt that the length was just right. Research in progress and published
research were the favourite types of research cited by those of you who
expressed a preference.
Many of you (77%) liked the design and
layout of Field Exchange. However a number of you did criticise the size
of the publication preferring a smaller format, particularly for filing
and photocopying purposes. We are trying to address these concerns with
this issue! ( This issue will be available on the web for downloading in
A4 format - details available later) - but are reluctant to move to the
standard A4 size just yet, as we feel it may detract from Field Exchange's
unique and conspicuous quality - which may be why many of you pick it up
in the first place
In this issue's field articles there is
a wide range of topics discussed. We have a piece written about the food
logistics system used in Somalia at the height of the civil war. The main
point of the article is, that in this type of conflict situation the logistic
programme can have a multi-faceted impact on a population, and may well
end up doing far more than just moving resources from A to B. The workings
of a logistics system can affect markets, employment, and political balances.
It is important to realise this, both from the point of view of managing
these impacts to maximum advantage, as well as for evaluation purposes.
We also have an article and postscripts
about a 'Food for Work' programme in post-emergency Rwanda. This raises
an interesting issue about when food is actually given to beneficiaries.
In this 'development' context, it appears accepted policy amongst donors
and UN agencies, that food aid can be provided retrospectively once
the work has been completed. Yet curiously, there is another policy
amongst the same agencies, which disallows retrospective provision of rations
in emergency programmes, in the event that rations are missed for
some reason like insecurity or breaks in the food aid pipeline, Such
policies are almost counter-intuitive. On the one hand food is being denied
when food insecurity is greatest (an emergency) but being provided in a
development phase when the problem is less acute. Part of the problem here
may be definitional, in that distinctions between emergency and development
phases are never clear cut and may ultimately be made for administrative
purposes. It seems self-evident, that decisions about whether to provide
rations retrospectively or not should ultimately be taken on location and
population specific food security criteria rather than poorly defined descriptions
of the stage of an emergency. Rwanda also features in another field level
article. This one is about the success of a therapeutic feeding programme
for unaccompanied minors in Kisangani, Zaire, waiting to return to Rwanda.
The focus of the article is on the provision of 'caring practices' which
were crucial to the nutritional management of these malnourished children
and without which recovery may have been far slower. The article is timely
in that it follows on from the recent International conference on 'Caring
for the Nutritionally Vulnerable in Emergencies' which is described in
the news section of this edition.
The Iraq situation is our country feature
this time, with the focus of the article being on the impact of trade sanctions
since the Gulf war. The evidence seems to show a dramatically negative
impact of these sanctions on the health and nutritional status of the civilian
population. The author then legitimately asks, whether it is fair
to continue penalising a population with little control or influence over
the decisions taken by their government.
If you have an idea for any other country
feature, whereby a given emergency situation is examined from a particular
angle, then please let us know, and if there is enough of a demand we will
do our best to facilitate.
Taken from Field Exchange Issue 4, June 1998