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Regional themes > Food security Last update: 2020-11-27  

Community managed targetting and distribution of food aid:
a review of experience of Save the Children (UK) in Southern Africa

Ellen Mathys, MPH
Save the Children (UK)


Posted with permission of the Pretoria office of Save the Children (UK)
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Save the Children UK has utilised variations on the community-managed targeting and distribution (CMTD) approach to food aid targeting in food distribution interventions in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The objective of this report is to evaluate the application of the CMTD approach in Tanzania (1998–99, in Singida and Dodoma Regions), Zimbabwe (2001–03, in Binga, Kariba and Zvimba districts) and Malawi (2002–03, in Salima and Mchinji Districts, across several programme phases) by Save the Children and its implementing partners. CMTD is an approach to food aid targeting that is designed to enhance community participation and leadership in the distribution process, based on the principle that beneficiary communities themselves are best placed to identify and target the most vulnerable or crisis-affected households in their communities, as well as to undertake and manage the distribution process itself.

The three settings of focus in this report varied considerably – the Tanzania programme was designed to protect livelihoods in populations facing recurring adverse seasons; the Malawi programme aimed to prevent nutritional deterioration in what was perceived to be a rapidly worsening food security crisis; and the Zimbabwe programme aimed to prevent deterioration in a similar agricultural context, but compounded with a highly complex political, agricultural and economic climate. The CMTD approach was adapted to each context, giving rise to significant differences in 1) the targeting guidelines developed for project staff to follow, 2) the issues that arose and the targeting procedures actually followed in the field, and 3) success of the programmes as defined by various types of monitoring data.


The author undertook a comprehensive review of reports related to these programmes, including both those written by SC(UK) and those written by external evaluation consultants. Key informant interviews were also held with SC(UK) programme staff for each of the country programmes. Gaps remained in the monitoring data available, and these gaps are clearly identified in the tables and figures. Overall, however, conclusions may be drawn regarding the successes and challenges that arose in implementation of the targeting frameworks in each setting.

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