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Explain how to integrate gender analysis in the targeting process.

Module link: Needs Assessments.
Module link: Monitoring and Evaluation.
Module link: Partnerships
Module link: SEAGA Tools
See: MOU with Governments and implementing partners.
See: WFP Commitments to Women.


Gender sensitive beneficiary screening, SEAGA application, Targeting criteria, methods, and process.

Overview for Emergency Operations Planning

The objective of targeting during emergency interventions is to respond to the actual needs of the most vulnerable women, men and children, by using available resources in the most efficient manner from a social and economic point of view.

Effective targeting also aims to create lasting benefits for the beneficiaries, through the promotion of community self-help structures and the creation of sustainable assets. An important objective of targeting is also to identify the potential risks and consequences involved in applying the targeting mechanisms selected. For example, targeting sub-sections of a population in times of crisis can serve as a source of vulnerability for those who receive assistance. The application of principles should be recorded.


  • Equity

  • Adequacy

  • Efficiency

  • Transparency

  • Equality

Positive Consequences of Good Targeting

A good targeting process not only assures allocations to the needy, but it can have positive consequences for:

  • Community development

  • Improvement in the market and trade infrastructure

  • Contribution to gender equality

  • Creation of development assets

Targeting and Beneficiary Screening Processes

Areas of intervention and potential recipient groups or individuals in the neediest households are defined and identified during the targeting process. Targeting should focus on the most risk-prone affected groups/individuals. In the emergency context, targeting typically involves four steps:

Targeting Steps

  • Prioritisation

Identifying the criteria on which specific areas, population groups and individual households are to be selected

  • Identification

Developing screening tools (administrative, community or self-targeting mechanisms) to ensure that only those who meet the targeting criteria actually receive benefits

  • Allocation

Determining the quantity of goods and services to be provided to those identified to be in need, in order to achieve the desired impact among programme beneficiaries

  • Options

Choosing suitable intervention strategy and delivery options for reaching the identified target population

It is important not only to consider the proportion of the affected people but also their actual number. The initial estimation of the target beneficiary load can be based on vulnerability mapping developed with implementing partners during needs assessments. These calculations are often based, however, on assessed samples and average estimations (e.g. the overall area, and household and land/stock holding sizes). Additional information systems are frequently necessary to improve the precision of targeting of individual beneficiaries at the time of resources allocation.

A matrix should be prepared for the definition of a detailed relief package, and a plan of allocation and distribution to prioritized areas of intervention. When project staff are the decision-makers, the effectiveness of targeting depends on the validity of data collected and analysed.

Screening criteria should be assessed in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and feasibility for identifying households facing acute food insecurity, safeguards against multiple registration or selection bias by local implementers, and the target population’s acceptability. Special reference should be made to beneficiary categories, ascertained during impact assessment, and the selected targeting level.

The criteria used in targeting should not be ambiguous. For example, households which have lost the most valuable cash crops are not necessarily the most vulnerable in the short term, but rather those with food deficits.

Application of Criteria[18]

The application of gender-sensitive targeting criteria depends on:

  • Type of crisis (natural disaster, civil conflict)

  • Livelihood systems of the beneficiaries (subsistence farmers, urban worker)

  • Status (displaced, female headed-household, handicapped)

  • Regional and local focus

  • Nutritional status

  • Coping mechanisms

  • Local and external implementation capacities

  • Political security and accessibility aspects

  • Beneficiary eligibility

  • Situation (why she/he is in need)

  • Social status (danger of discrimination)

  • Whereabouts

  • Possibility to reach (geographical/regional focus)

  • Options for assistance (intervention strategy)

Screening is often 'soft' using community-targeting procedures. It is managed by committees or other forms of adopted decision-making bodies within the community. The responsible aid operators should agree with the community on the screening modalities. The list of selected beneficiaries should be shared with and approved by the community. This list represents a baseline distribution reference, used monitor progress.

Screening can be complex and costly when applying administrative targeting procedures. Aid implementers will need the participation of community key informants and facilitators, with the active participation of women as individuals or associations, for the selection and registration of target beneficiaries.

In the case of pre-compiled lists, the participation of aid operators is a key prerequisite for effective targeting. The dynamics of the socio-economic structure in complex emergency-situations should be taken into consideration.

The screening result should be coherent with the outcomes of the livelihood analysis, beneficiary case-load estimates and the resulting allocation and distribution plan. In all cases, actual beneficiary numbers should be monitored and compared with provisional figures established earlier.

One-day workshops can be organized with the participation of all identified stakeholders to share the overall targeting approach (based on livelihood analysis and food needs assessments), agree on criteria for the affected areas, and on vulnerable beneficiary groups. They are necessary to tailor relief packages and food aid to the real needs of the affected population. These should eventually be prioritised based on available resources and the capacity of each group to benefit from existing household resource endowments and access to services.

When applying a gender focus in the targeting process, it is important to consider the different impacts of the emergency on men and women, and specific constraints posed to all aspects of humanitarian assistance. This can imply setting realistic objectives based on empirical observation.

The effectiveness and applicability of targeting female-headed households should take into account the prevailing workload of women and relations with their actual nourishment and health status.

Where applicable, a combination of food and inputs relief for work should be considered. This system reduces the sharing of rations and inputs packages. Workers are less inclined to share earnings than gifts, and there are fewer expectations from non-eligible persons.

SEAGA Application in the Development Context

Estimation of target numbers of beneficiaries and their location is based on vulnerability mapping agreed with implementing operators/partners.

Main factors involve the type of crisis (natural disaster or complex emergency), status of concerned people (IDPs, refugees), focus area, nutritional condition, coping mechanisms, implementation capacities, political security, and accessibility.

The question is: "If and where it is applicable to follow a gender perspective in aid distribution?" Issues of community cohesiveness and development should be thoroughly understood.

A choice is necessary between pragmatic non-discriminatory/discriminatory approaches - geographic level (everyone in a given locality) or status level (a specific socio-economic group). The former should be adopted when there is a homogenous impact on the people living in the affected area. This usually occurs in situations of cohesive socio-economic, cultural and ethnic status.

SEAGA Application in the Institutional Context




  • Population origin and background.

  • Knowledge of beneficiaries.

  • Past experiences with disasters.

  • Lessons learned.

  • Policies and priorities.

  • Existing legislation.

For food aid distribution, a strategic decision should be taken to choose the appropriate level of targeting. Exceptionally, recipient segregation might appear necessary when the risk factor of including non-needy groups is too high or with unavoidable social tension situations. This might occur in complex emergency-situations, when targeting female-headed households is crucial to avoid violence against them and ensure that they are the final aid recipients.

The likelihood of gender cohesiveness of the population occurs where enforced trends have resulted due to complex emergency-situations (e.g. men have migrated or the majority of holdings are now headed by women).

SEAGA Application in the Livelihoods Context

The targeting selection criteria will depend on the results of the livelihood and farming systems analysis performed during the situation and needs assessment phase.

Gender analysis should not be considered as a vertical issue in terms of an additional beneficiary category in a numerical preconceived way, but as the actual result of an analytical approach on the given livelihood context.

In the final analysis, the choice of the targeting mechanism should not be based on a budgetary basis. The leading parameters are the objectives, the available resources, the context of the emergency intervention, and the livelihood context of the target population.

Targeting Methods

Targeting can be the responsibility of already existing government structures, benefiting communities and in some cases even of outside structures. Each of the stakeholders involved in targeting has to be aware of gender concerns in every stage of the process. There is usually a division of responsibilities between the different stakeholders involved and a combination of various targeting methods is adopted. No single targeting method exists for all situations and vulnerable groups.

The leading parameters are the objectives, the available resources, the context of the emergency intervention and the livelihood situation of the target population. An effective system for monitoring targeting effectiveness is always needed to detect and correct possible discriminations and inappropriateness.

Self Targeting is where aid packages are selected that only the target population wants, or is willing to pay for.

The mechanism applies mainly to Food for Work (FFW) schemes during food aid distribution in Protracted Relief and Rehabilitation Operations (PRROs), but it may also be considered for non-free distribution procedures of agricultural inputs relief packages. Fertilizer, live animals and veterinary remedies for work could be combined with agriculture-infrastructure rehabilitation schemes.

Payment can be represented by time, effort and opportunity costs of employment, or subsidized sales of inputs temporarily unavailable on the local market. In general, self- and community- targeting procedures are considered low-cost options, as they do not require the direct screening of beneficiaries eligible for aid. Although considerable time and effort are required from community representatives in such systems, these are not usually considered as project costs.

The possibility exists that emergency supplies do not reach the most needy populations because there are often socio-cultural barriers or time constraints.

Self Targeting

Targeting Process

  • People decide for themselves whether to take advantage of the offered assistance

Main Stakeholders

  • Individuals in the community

Gender-related Advantages

  • Self-targeting is usually cost-effective and less intrusive in the social environment

Gender-related Disadvantages

  • Self-targeting in food-for-work programmes may entail some hidden costs as work requirement reduces to some extent the value of the net transfer to households. Under emergency conditions, most needy individuals retain value to alternative uses of their time

Administrative Targeting is where outsiders (administrators or project staff) define the beneficiary’s characteristics. This method is sometimes imposed by institutional arrangements and agreements with national authorities, where national distribution systems are well established (e.g. Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea) and due to sovereignty issues (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan). In such cases, it might be very difficult to follow a gender perspective if an agreement with the administrators is not reached.

Administrative Targeting

Targeting Process

  • Define priorities and priority areas, and set standards for entitlements

  • Match resources with needs in a continuous dialogue with donors, and fulfill auditing and accounting functions

Main Stakeholders

  • Government and emergency operators

Gender-related Advantages

  • Complement and support participatory methods

Gender-related Disadvantages

  • Considered as a last resort for direct beneficiary targeting. Must avoid a "top-down" approach

  • When "outsiders" do targeting, changes in the existing community solidarity networks, or even power struggles within each family, community, or different political and ethnic group, should be avoided

Community (Participatory) Targeting

Targeting process

  • It uses traditional or democratically elected community leaders and existing structures for the targeting of assistance (food and non-food) to beneficiaries

Main Stakeholders

  • Community and emergency operators

Gender-related Advantages

  • People can become used to democratic decision-making processes, and reinforce the community responsibility towards its vulnerable members

  • Promote the participation of communities who often know best their most vulnerable members

  • Existing kinship-support systems are less prone to be undermined

  • Contribute to the building of grassroots development structures

  • It may give a chance to encourage gender-balanced representation (this is often forced from outsiders)

  • A more refined targeting is possible (wealth, family size, family members, workloads, etc.)

  • It usually ensures an improved appeal system

Gender-related Disadvantages

  • Community leaders are not always the best representatives for the poor in their society

  • The absence of external supervision might reinforce the community gender imbalance

  • If the targeting is biased, it may have negative effects on the community

Community Targeting is where decisions are made by community members or their representatives (including the potential beneficiaries), and criteria selection is based on their subjective judgment of need or vulnerability. This targeting method relies on the knowledge and understanding of their neighbors’ situation. It is also a low-cost procedure and bypasses difficulty in data collection while exploiting the deeper knowledge on the community’s vulnerability. Women represent a good asset in this process.

Coverage of all households, or at best based on household size, may result from applying this targeting mechanism. Alternatively, given customary systems of exchange and loans, assistance might be shared beyond targeted beneficiaries, regardless of the assessment made by outside agencies.

Question Tank - Reporting

Target Areas, Groups, Policies and Conduits Checklist

  • Which areas are most severely affected?

  • Which areas are most in need of relief assistance?

  • Which are the most affected areas or population groups?

  • How can targeting be as transparent and fair as possible?

  • If the needs exceed available resources, how should we select those people with the greatest needs?

  • What would be the best targeting method for the specific emergency context?

  • What is the potential impact of targeting on households’ livelihoods and the existing gender balance?

  • Will female-headed households and the poorest (e.g. old people, disabled people and orphans) be able to qualify to get food relief if it is

    tied to work outputs?

  • Are specific medical and sanitary needs addressed?

  • How should food and agricultural inputs be distributed?

  • Which factors should be applied to classify/prioritise most severely affected areas?

  • How many affected people are in each area?

  • What would be the best timing for a relief operation?

  • How should beneficiary registration and relief package distribution be organised?

  • Which gender-balanced selection criteria should be used?

  • Within village targeting, what are the trade-offs between blanket coverage (all people) versus selected groups?

  • Who heads the family? What are the gender roles in food preparation?

  • How will "food for asset creation" labour requirements affect women and men’s activities?
    Will this have a negative impact on subsistence crops, which are often grown by women?

  • What impact will relief aid have on the local market for various crops?

  • How is the security situation taken into consideration?

Capacity Building Needs Checklist

  • Who are the operators and stakeholders involved?

  • How is the beneficiaries’ community organized?

  • What are the existing and available capacities in the community? Women’s? Men’s?

  • Analyse the gender situation of local committees or groups and what is missing against the following criteria:

Current status

Constraints to decision-making.

Possibilities for change.





  • What do women and men want as support to increase their capacities and skills?

  • Is it possible to ensure that women are not marginalized and excluded from or displaced by new programmes?

  • Will both women and men benefit from new skills and resources introduced by the project

    (e.g., nutrition education and basic health training)? Are specific programmes needed to increase women participation?

  • Does the project support both women and men in assuming broad family responsibilities, including care for children? Will counseling initiatives provide openings for a reconsideration of gender roles in domestic responsibilities and decision-making processes?

[18] Source: WFP Self-briefing Materials, Module 3: Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation.

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