SITE MONITORING - Food Resources Manual

Reasons for Distribution Site Monitoring

Two types of monitoring generally take place for all projects: impact and systems monitoring. Monitoring for impact involves the tracking of project specific variables directly related to final objectives, such as nutritional status, consumption patterns and household income. CARE and donors want to know who is receiving benefits from the program, in what way and to what degree relative to the costs involved, and why the program is or is not having the intended impact. This type of evaluation requires baseline information.

This manual focuses on monitoring systems of food management, by reviewing internal controls and verifying the documentation for individual transactions. This information relates to management of assets and compliance with donor regulations.

The monitoring process seeks to reduce the risk that registered beneficiaries are not receiving their intended rations and that systems are not operating.

Monitoring data should satisfy management information needs covering receipt, storage and distribution of food. Monitoring should:

  • Verify that registered beneficiaries are receiving the intended quantity and quality of food.
  • Determine if distribution staff are following procedures as stipulated in agreements.
  • Determine if control procedures are adequate at each stage of the distribution to prevent corruption and misappropriation.
  • Determine losses and actions taken on a timely basis to pursue claims against responsible parties.
  • Provide project management with suggestions to improve procedures.
  • Verify amounts of food in possession of counterparts by reconciling stock records and physical inventories.

CARE often provides support to on-going government or other counterpart programs by procuring food, arranging for transport and delivery of food, and providing advisory or technical support to the counterpart’s program activities. Counterparts often manage all other aspects of project implementation, including food handling and distribution activities.

Whether or not CARE directly implements a program, effective monitoring systems and procedures must be in place for any program using food resources.

Ways of Collecting Information

Information about systems at the site level is collected in several ways. First, there is required reporting based on recordkeeping. Project management may require all sites to submit daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly reports. Regular site reports are the main source of information regarding total amount of food received and distributed to beneficiaries, inventories in storage sites, extent of losses, adequacy of food management systems, staff training needs, and the number of project beneficiaries. Second, there are site visits to improve performance of sites not operating adequately. The visits, regardless of the information produced, have a positive impact on site management. Third, and the focus of this chapter, is monitoring a sample of sites, based on mathematical laws of probability which state that a small number of sites randomly selected from all the sites will demonstrate the characteristics of the whole. The goal of statistical sampling is to achieve maximum objectivity, representativeness and efficiency.

Use of Information

Aggregate information collected from the regular site reports is compared with information drawn from the monitoring sample. If the sample is reliable, discrepancies between the two could indicate serious control problems at the site level. For example, every month 95% of the sites may report that they distribute the full authorized ration to the precise number of authorized beneficiaries. Monitoring reports, however, show that 85% of the sites visited are serving an average of 50% more beneficiaries than authorized or reported. There is clearly a widespread distortion between the site reports and the monitoring reports.

Comparative analysis has both programmatic and administrative implications; the under-reporting or over-reporting of beneficiaries may require a change in the number of sites, better targeting and registration, change in planning of allocations , different types of foods, or adjustments in distribution mode to insure that the target population receives the intended ration.

If the center reports do not match the monitoring reports, possible causes of the discrepancies include:

  • Misappropriation
  • Lack of training
  • Poorly designed reporting formats
  • Fear of site personnel to report honestly and freely on distribution activities/problems
  • Collusion involving transporters and individual(s) responsible for receipt at the center
  • Receipt of short-weight deliveries from CARE warehouses or transporters.

Project managers, Food and Logistics staff and others in country offices must regularly review and compare distribution site reports with information received during visits by field monitors to determine whether there are discrepancies.


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