Advisory on COVID -19 for food assistance

As the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread in an unpredictable manner it presents a growing risk to WFP personnel, Cooperating Partners (CP) and beneficiaries, particularly during food distributions.
This document aims to guide the revision of Food Distribution Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in the COVID-19 context at the country level, to minimize the risk of exposure of personnel, partners and beneficiaries. Adjustments to existing food distribution SOPs should be in alignment with country-specific guidance shared by the relevant health authorities and partners (e.g. Ministry of Health, WHO), where available.
For WFP Offices, these guidelines should be read in conjunction with the Emergency Pocketbook chapter on Implementing an emergency response, which supersedes the 2005/2006 GFD guidelines.

• Organize and clearly mark the allocated spaces at the distribution site (see Annex 1: Sample site plan for Food distribution sites in the COVID-19 environment)

  • Reception point, (identity) verification point, collection point and exit to channel off traffic and allow for personal space of at least one meter between each beneficiary.
  • Set up hand washing area with adequate supply of hand washing solution (0.05% bleach solution).
  • Allocate areas for body temperature checks by health officials.
  • Establish sheltered/covered area for beneficiaries that do not receive clearance at the body temperature check point. The allocated area should be spacious enough to allow beneficiaries to sit/stand at least one meter apart from each other
  • Ensure that there are clearly marked entrance and exit points in the distribution area.

• Organize rations ahead of the scheduled distribution

  • If not already prepositioned, offload the food supplies into the temporary storage and organize rations ahead of the scheduled distribution.
  • Separate storage from the collection points where possible.

• Do not allow crowding around the distribution point

  • Instruct beneficiaries to maintain a distance of one metre from each other throughout the distribution process
  • One-meter area around the desk to be cordoned off (with a rope or tape) at the collection point if possible. This will ensure that the collection point is accessible to only one beneficiary at a time.

• Manage the flow of traffic at the distribution site

  • Upon arrival at the distribution site, direct beneficiaries to the hand washing area and then to the temperature check area to have their body temperature assessed using a non-invasive thermometer. Ideally, the temperature check should be conducted by a medical or health professional endorsed by government authorities.
  • If a beneficiary is detected to have a fever, they should be directed to the specified sheltered/covered area for a follow up by the local government or health official. CPs to inform identified beneficiaries that they will receive rations irrespective of the results of the temperature test.
  • Beneficiaries cleared at the temperature check area are to be directed to the (identity) verification checkpoint.
  • Beneficiaries should not pass through the distribution point more than once.

• Consider hygiene and sanitation measures

  • There should be no physical contact between CP staff and beneficiaries or between beneficiaries.
  • Operators at the collection point should place the food rations on the tarpaulin/table at the distribution point and step back, permitting the beneficiary to collect the ration.
  • Following the collection of the ration, beneficiaries are to be directed to exit the collection site and encouraged to depart the distribution site.

SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS FOR COOPERATING PARTNER STAFF AT THE DISTRIBUTION SITES (Reception point operator, Queue Management Operator and Distribution Point Operator etc.)

  • Monitor the entry of beneficiaries into the distribution point channel.
  • Instruct beneficiaries to maintain a distance of one-meter at all points during distributions.
  • Ensure that the hand washing point is supplied with appropriate quantities of handwash solution
  • Ensure that all beneficiaries wash their hands at the hand washing point and have body temperature checks before approaching the identity verification checkpoint.
  • If a beneficiary presents high temperature, they must be directed to the sheltered/covered area and referred to the relevant health authorities.
  • Oversee and assist with offloading and organising rations before distributions are scheduled to start.
  • Step back from the ration and direct the beneficiary to collect the ration and leave via the marked exit route.
  • Instruct the beneficiaries to leave the distribution site immediately after the collection of rations.
  • On completion of distribution, ensure that the distribution point (room/ area/ tarpaulin) is swept clean and sprayed with disinfectant (0.5% chlorine solution). Once dry, the tarpaulin should be folded away for storage/transportation. The broom may be used again after bleach spraying to remove any debris.
  • Remove all tapes, ropes and signage.
  • Clear hand wash station and remove/store hand washing solution.
  • It is mandatory that all staff at the distribution site perform hand sanitation and follow general hygiene practices.

Hand wash solution (0.05% bleach solution) and can be made from a variety of chlorine bases available in the market. Washing hands with clean water and soap is mandatory for all WFP and CP personnel, beneficiaries as well as any other party involved in the process/present at the distribution site.

Instructions for making mild hand wash solution (0.05% chlorine solution): English / French.

Instructions for making soapy water: English / French.

Disinfectant solution (0.5% bleach solution) and can be made from a variety of chlorine bases available in the market. All washing and disinfecting solutions must be prepared prior to dispatching to distribution point and marked clearly.
Instructions for making disinfectant solution (0.5% bleach solution) from liquid bleach: English / French

Concentrated chlorine and bleach are highly toxic substances that can cause irritation and inflammation to eyes, throat and nose. When mixing and using 0.5% disinfecting solution, appropriate PPE (including impermeable coverall, apron, N95 mask, goggles and double glove ie. inner disposable latex gloves and outer heavy-duty latex gloves) must be worn.

Important Note: All WFP personnel and CPs are responsible for complying with all aspects of the SOPs identified at the country level. If any individual (WFP personnel and CPs) demonstrates symptoms of COVID-19 they should avoid contact with beneficiaries and not be present at the distribution site.