The paper focuses on the question of how food aid can best be targeted to the neediest households in food-insecure areas, particularly in the context of the 1993 National Policy on Disaster Prevention and Management (NPDPM) and its central strategy of channelling relief food through employment generation schemes (EGS) in place of general free distributions. The debate on household-level targeting of such schemes has centred on the choice between self-targeting and administrative/community targeting.

As a framework for the discussion, a typology of targeting methods is briefly set out, suggesting that three dimensions of classification are needed for each targeting system: the institutional channel or mechanism; the level; and selection criteria. Community targeting, which has received little attention in the international literature, is discussed.

A review of previous Ethiopian experience with targeting through public works shows little evidence that it successfully self-selects the poorest and excludes the relatively better-off, even at low payment rates. A summary of views expressed by beneficiaries and implementing staff in chronic food-aid recipient areas sheds further doubt on the potential of pure self-targeting to meet the targeting objectives of the NPDPM. However, it also suggests that the community targeting option is not an easy or cheap one, and that a strong preference for sharing aid as widely as possible within communities applies equally to employment entitlements.

The paper concludes that a combination of self-targeting elements with community prioritication of the neediest households is the best available targeting option for EGS. At the same time, attention is needed to improve administrative targeting at area levels.


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