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Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response

Non-food items standard 1: Individual, general household and shelter support items

The affected population has sufficient individual, general household and shelter support items to ensure their health, dignity, safety and well-being.

Key actions (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)

Key indicators (to be read in conjunction with the guidance notes)

Guidance notes

  1. Needs assessment: The separate needs for personal items such as clothing and personal hygiene, general household items such as food storage and preparation, and items to support the meeting of shelter needs such as plastic sheeting, rope, tools or basic building materials, should be assessed. A distinction should be made between individual and communal needs, in particular for cooking and fuel. Non-food item needs that can be met using familiar, locally sourced products should be identified. The need for boxes, bags or similar containers for the storage and transportation of personal and household goods for displaced populations and those in transit should be considered for inclusion as part of any non-food item assistance. The provision of non-food items should be part of an overall disaster response plan (see Core standards 1 – Core Standards 2 – Core Standards 3 and Shelter and settlement standard 1).
  2. Communal facilities: Non-food items should be provided to support personal hygiene, health, food preparation and cooking, etc., as appropriate for schools and other communal facilities. Access should be made available to recreation and learning materials. Links should be established between the health and education sectors to ensure public health and hygiene messages support the appropriate use of non-food items (see Hygiene promotion standards 1–2  and INEE Minimum Standards in Education: Preparedness, Response, Recovery).
  3. Sourcing non-food items: Disasters affect the local economy and supply chains, often necessitating the external sourcing of non-food items and the direct distribution to individuals, households or communities. A rapid market analysis as part of the initial needs assessment can determine whether familiar non-food items can be sourced locally or in neighbouring, non-affected areas. Where the local economy is still functioning, or can be supported through specific assistance in sourcing or supply chain management, the provision of cash and/or vouchers can enable affected populations to manage their own relief item needs (see Food security - cash and vouchers standard 1). Any such assistance should be planned to ensure that vulnerable people are not disadvantaged and that relief needs are met.
  4. Relief packages: Non-food items are often packaged and pre-positioned in warehouses based on standard specifications and contents. The quantity and specification of non-food items in a household package should be considered with reference to the number of people in a typical household, their age, gender and the presence of people with specific needs, as well as the items’ cultural acceptability.
  5. Distribution: Efficient and equitable distribution methods should be planned in consultation with the affected population. The population should be informed of any such distributions and any registration or assessment process required to participate. Formal registration or the allocation of tokens should be undertaken. Ensure that vulnerable individuals or households are not omitted from distribution lists and can access both the information and the distribution itself. A grievance process should be established to address any concerns arising during registration or distribution. Relevant local authorities should be consulted on which distribution locations are most suitable for safe access and receipt of the non-food items, as well as for safe return of recipients. The walking distances involved, the terrain and the practicalities and cost implications of transporting larger goods such as shelter support items should be considered. The monitoring of distributions and the use of the provided non-food items should be undertaken to assess the adequacy and appropriateness of both the distribution process and the non-food items themselves (see Food security - food transfers standard 5).
  6. Promotion, instruction and technical guidance: Individual and general household items should be familiar to the disaster-affected population for use without additional guidance. However, technical guidance and instruction should be provided as appropriate to complement the provision of shelter support items such as construction materials, tools and fixings (see Non-food items standard 5). Packaging can carry simple diagrams illustrating how the items can be used safely to repair or construct safe and adequate shelter. The disaster-affected population and local construction specialists should be involved in on-site awareness-raising activities (for example, the repair or erection of demonstration shelters) in order to better understand the construction techniques required. Any weaknesses in pre-disaster shelter and settlement design and construction that may have contributed to the damage or destruction of homes, and local examples of good practice that withstood the disaster, should be highlighted to those involved in construction activities.
  7. Replenishment: The planning of relief distributions should consider the rate of consumption, the resulting duration of use and the ability of the affected population to replenish such items.