Elpida Home has identified traditional distribution systems, for both food and non-food items (NFIs), as a fertile area for low-cost and high-impact improvements. As with all systems at Elpida Home, distribution systems are designed to offer residents greater participation and agency. The incorporation of choice is paramount, in terms of both time and product. Traditional humanitarian support relies on direct provision of resources to individuals. This is a practical means of ensuring equitable distribution in emergency response situations. However, as the operating environment stabilizes, these systems must evolve to meet the challenges related to medium- to long-term accommodation of more stable populations.
Elpida Home, with the support of volunteers coordinated by ERCI, have worked with the community to design and implement distribution systems that more closely resemble the lives they lived before their journey began. To date, we have shifted clothes and hygiene products to a shop system that functions on a internal credit system. Elpida Home is currently in the process of shifting the resident run food distribution system to a credit-based shop system similar to the one use for NFIs.
The NFI distribution system at Elpida Home means residents are no longer passive recipients of NFI but rather active agents exercising individual choice in fulfilling their needs for clothes and hygiene products. The Elpída Home NFI shop, housed in the warehouse area on the ground floor of the building, comprises a café and social area, a 225 square metre shop space for clothes, toiletries, toys, and 300 square metres of supporting warehouse space.
The system is designed to be open, accessible, transparent, and, above all, welcoming to residents. In order to continue drawing the interest and commanding the respect of beneficiaries, the space must remain welcoming and warm, featuring a frequently-rotated stock of good-quality clothes, and a clean and pleasant waiting area. Confidence must be built. Shelves and clothes racks must remain generously stocked so as to break the illusion of scarcity. The continued abundant stocking of shelves with a variety of high-quality products, spells the difference between a distribution system that breeds worry and uncertainty as to the date or adequacy of the next distribution; and one that generates comfort, mutual trust, and comity between recipients and responders.
Instead of mass catered food which rarely meets the nutritional or taste needs of the residents, Elpida Home has built a kitchen and food distribution space onsite. The kitchen is open 10am-8:30pm allowing the families to cook meals for themselves. Food is distributed in the mornings from 10am-1:30pm, Tues - Sat. This gives not only a sense of agency but normalcy, as the scent of the days cooking fills the walls. It has also proven a much more economically viable solution.