But what are we doing down there? Stories and articles from the Logistics Cluster activities
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is truly vast. At 2,345,408 km2, it is larger than the combined areas of Spain, France, Germany, Sweden, and Norway. North Kivu Province in the DRC makes up an area of 59, 483 km2 and is a region of dense rainforest, peppered with small communities. Today, the volatile security situation in the DRC causes the continuous movement of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in both North and South Kivu Provinces; after the conflict that led to the rebel occupation of Goma (the largest town in North Kivu) last November, over 100,000 civilians sought refuge in displaced people's camps around the town.
But accessing these displaced camps is not easy, especially as the communities continually move as a result of the on-going conflict. The terrain of North Kivu is extremely difficult to build on – it is made up of laterite soil which, with the combination of its high porosity and tropical climate, creates treacherously muddy roads. The poor road conditions, as well as the lack of transport infrastructure and storage capacity, constantly impede the attempts of the humanitarian community to deliver relief items to those in need.
During the month of March, in North Kivu Province, the Logistics Cluster facilitated, via WFP Service Provision, the road transportation of 101.7 mt of food on behalf of Mercy Corps as well as 45.2 mt of NFIs on behalf of UNOPS and FAO. The WFP fleet of off-road (tout terrain) vehicles can access isolated areas that commercial carriers cannot reach; these trucks are the only means that the humanitarian community possess of accessing these remote communities, as there are no commercial operators with trucks of this kind which can endure the gruelling journeys on these roads. This humanitarian cargo was transported from Goma to Walikale, Rutshuru, Lushebere and Mpati. The direct route from Goma to Walikale is a mere 300km, yet due to the unpredictable security situation and the hazardous road conditions, the truck fleet must drive an alternative route which quadruples their journey length to 1200km. This journey can take anywhere between 1-4 weeks.
The Logistics Cluster, through their invaluable partnership with WFP Service Provision, is able to offer continued support to the humanitarian community in their efforts to provide relief assistance to the displaced communities in South Kivu Province.
For almost two years, Syria has been facing a serious humanitarian crisis. Four million people are currently in need of urgent assistance. To address the immense scale of needs over 40,000 m3 of life-saving items have been handled on behalf of the humanitarian community first by the Logistics Sector (2012) and then the Logistics Cluster (2013), supported by WFP.
Before the Logistics Cluster activation, 20,688 m3 of relief cargo were transported and stored on behalf of 8 organizations to all 14 governorates of Syria.
However, based on the recommendation of the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, the Logistics Cluster was activated in January 2013, following which, operations expanded to include transport from Lebanon to Syria. Operations were also scaled up inside the country, including the planning and organization of Joint Humanitarian Convoys. Via these convoys, UN Agencies and NGOs are able to collectively deliver vital and life-saving aid items to the most vulnerable populations in Syria.
Due to the rapid scale-up of operations, within just the first 3 months of 2013 the Logistics Cluster’s volume figures for cargo handled were comparable to the total figures from 2012, reaching 19,991 m3 by March. Additionally the number of organisation supported by these common services expanded from 8 to 13 (ACF, DRC, IOM, Premiere Urgence, Secours Islamique France, FAO, UNICEF, UNDP, UNHCR, UNFPA, UNRWA, and WHO).
Items handled so far have included support for programme activities in the following areas: 39% for Protection (Clothes), 28% for Shelter (Plastic Sheeting, Blankets, Mattresses), 12% for Education (Recreational Kits, School Items), 9% for Agriculture (Seeds), 8% for Health (Hygiene Kits, Medicines, Medical Equipment), 4% for Food Security (Supplementary Food, Vegetable Oil, Rice), and just under 1% for WASH (Soap).
The Syria Logistics Cluster will continue to be engaged in this complex relief operation for the coming months, with staff deployed throughout the region – in Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon – to support the transport of critical humanitarian supplies throughout Syria. The volume of cargo handled so far is equivalent to a column of over one thousand standard 20 foot containers stacked all the way up to the highest mountain peak in Syria (Mount Jabal Sheikh). The above infographic provides an illustrated summary of the Logistics Cluster’s achievements thus far.
The Syria Logistics Cluster led by the World Food Programme, in collaboration with Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and OCHA, coordinated the very first inter-agency convoy to Idleb governorate, northwest Syria. The 6 WFP contracted trucks arrived in Idleb this morning, transporting much-needed relief items from Damascus to Atmeh (Idleb Governorate) on behalf of 6 UN agencies (UNHCR, UNDP, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and WFP). This includes 5 truckloads of Non-Food Items (Blankets, Quilts, Health Kits, Safe Delivery Kits, Plastic Sheeting, and Hygiene Kits) and 1 truckload of food rations.
The planning and organization of this convoy was the result of strong cooperation between different UN Agencies to reach the most vulnerable people in the camps along the border with Turkey. The convoy departed on the morning of Wednesday 13 February from Damascus, laden with these relief items and reached Atmeh on Saturday 16 February, to cover the needs of 6,000 people in urgent need of assistance.
This was the first inter-agency convoy organized by the Logistics Cluster. The initial plan is to reach 25,000 people in need of assistance in the camps of this border region, after which the Logistics Cluster will arrange relief cargo convoys for other regions in Syria.
The Somalia Logistics Cluster was activated in 2011 in response to the severe drought in east Africa. As part of the Logistics Cluster’s response, in order to assist the humanitarian community in Somalia, a contingency stock of five Mobile Storage Units (MSUs) was procured from the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) Unit in Dubai in 2011. It was intended that these MSUs would be used as needed to provide additional storage capacity, quickly available for use by partners and capable of being deployed to any location where they may be required.
In October 2012, in response to a request from Save the Children, the Somalia Logistics Cluster leased one MSU free of charge. This MSU will be used in Mogadishu to store items necessary for the implementation of Save the Children’s Nutrition Programmes in the area, serving an estimated 2,000 beneficiaries per month.
The Logistics Cluster, through WFP, was able to provide technical guidance to Save the Children for the setting up of the MSU. WFP Staff in Mogadishu demonstrated the process of assembling the MSU correctly and were on hand to provide guidance on the building of a raised MSU base with adequate drainage. Additionally, the Somalia Logistics Cluster coordinator, as part of a mission to Mogadishu Port in October 2012 to assess logistics bottlenecks and port congestion, was able to follow-up on the handover of the MSU to Save the Children.
The adaptability of the MSUs provides a great deal of flexibility, and is ideal for use by Logistics Cluster partners; particularly in this context. The ease with which they can be transported and erected in a variety of locations, makes the MSU an excellent option for humanitarian organisations operating in an unpredictable environment. As conditions on the ground change, and access to affected populations changes, these MSUs can be picked up by Logistics Cluster partners from Mogadishu port and set-up by the partners where ever they may be needed. One additional MSU is now being leased to Save the Children in November 2012, in support of its Shelter and Education Programmes.
For further information on these MSUs, including technical guidelines and lease procedures, an MSU Snapshot is available on the Logistics Cluster website: http://www.logcluster.org/ops/som11a/snapshot-somalia-MSUs-121114/view
Jonglei State (03 November 2012) - The weather changes daily here in Jonglei State, but remains eerily predictable. The helicopter crew mentioned to us at the airstrip in Bor that they must take off early because mid-day is usually when thunderstorms and other dangerous changes in the weather occur. Looking into the sky it was clear and cool with few clouds, but experience rules in this environment.
The Logistics Cluster team on the ground in Bor carefully monitors the cargo being loaded onto the helicopter, and discusses the day’s plans with partners. The hustle and bustle is real during these clear morning hours, with organizations delivering cargo to the airstrip; some early, and some late. The Logistics Cluster’s Senior Logistics Assistant, and focal point for the Jonglei operations, consults with the flight crew and porters regarding calculations for fuel required and the cargo loaded. He also follows up with the partners, ensuring that the organization’s cargo is in the queue to depart on one of the day’s two scheduled flights.
Many different factors affect the helicopter operations; fuel needs, temperature, and the weights of cargo all determine what can go; the team is always working to maximise the use of available capacity to ensure that each rotation is as effectively loaded as possible. After the cargo is on board the helicopter, and the bay doors are locked, the crew make sure everyone is clear and start up the engines. The aircraft has to be on its way by 08:30 hrs sharp to ensure that it can return with enough time left in the day for a second rotation before the rains set in. It departs in a whirlwind of dust and small rocks, blowing a small cloud of debris towards the onlookers next to the airstrip. Immediately following take-off, the NGO and UN vehicles depart and carry on with their other duties for the day.
Three hours later, the helicopters return. You can hear their arrival from anywhere in Bor town, which signals to the porters, the partners, and the Logistics Cluster personnel that it is time again to take the next batch of supplies to the airstrip. Sure enough, by the time the aircraft lands, vehicles are lined up and waiting to load their cargo for transport to Pibor.
The second rotation of the day is critical. Timing is everything, and to escape the need to make unexpected and unplanned detours en-route to avoid dangerous storms, the crew emphasizes the importance of punctuality. The cargo is loaded very quickly and the crew depart in haste following their safety checks.
Sure enough, on the way to Pibor, around 12:15 hrs, the sky begins to darken slowly just as the pilots had predicted that morning. As we land the local porters rush to unload the cargo immediately so we can be on our way back to Bor as quickly as possible. Evidence of the flooding surrounds the airstrip; muddy tracks and standing water is visible here and from the air. Despite the difficult conditions on the ground, the local staff ensure that the operation runs smoothly and the flight crew are able to get air born and head back, but the sky shows evidence of rains approaching.
As we return towards Bor to conclude the day’s rotations, the sky darkens on both sides of the helicopter and the flight becomes increasingly bumpy. The pilots, who have been conducting operations for the Logistics Cluster since October, are familiar with this pattern. They manoeuvre the helicopter around the dark clouds and thunderstorms, until finally we are back on the ground and can begin preparations for another early morning rotation.
What may seem like a simple operation is not quite so easy. The Logistics Cluster, OCHA, and partners on the ground meet regularly to prioritize and plan consignments of cargo to be airlifted to populations affected by flooding and displaced due to violence. The smooth running of these air operations is only possible with the work and cooperation of all actors on the ground to identify priority locations and those humanitarian supplies that are most urgently needed.
More information on South Sudan’s intervention strategies and current operations can be found here: http://www.logcluster.org/ops/ssd11a
Since the start of the rainy season South Sudan has experienced destructive flooding across the entire country, cutting off many communities, particularly in Jonglei and Upper Nile States. The flooding has washed out a majority of the roads, impacting the people returning to the South who find their path blocked by the flood waters and need urgent assistance to support them in camps. Those same roads are also rendered unusable for vehicles attempting to deliver much needed relief items. In response the Logistics Cluster, in partnership with UNHAS, has deployed helicopters to operate out of Bor, in Jonglei State; these helicopters have been critical for humanitarian operations, and a large volume of requests from our partners in the humanitarian community have been accommodated to ensure that assistance reaches those affected.
The logistics constraints for all organisations working in South Sudan are daunting, and to ensure uninterrupted support to the humanitarian community the Global Logistics Cluster Support Cell (GLCSC) has deployed a number of staff throughout 2012; this helicopter operation was no exception. A logistician seconded to the cell from Save the Children (STC) UK was sent this time to back-stop the field cluster.
The operation must be coordinated perfectly in a very difficult and constantly evolving situation; the weather can change the plans, technical problems must be considered. In order to efficiently use the helicopter it must always fly with the maximum load [accounting for distance and fuel consumption]: the weight must be calculated at the kilo, and the time margin is limited due to safety requirements. Different organizations are in need of air transportation of their cargo and sometimes their staff: coordination is the key.
This time around, the helicopter was transporting 2400kg of Plumpy Nut [a super-nutritional peanut butter] for International Medical Corps (IMC) from Bor to Akobo, via the helicopter service. This was the maximum payload possible for the destination, it required 90 minutes of flying time to reach from Bor, and another 90 minutes to return. Once in Akobo the operation became much more of a challenge than expected. From altitude the village looked totally immersed in a whole swamp. The crew needed to land the aircraft, remove all the cargo on a mud-clogged landing strip as quickly as possible, and take off to complete the next rotation in good time. However as the helicopter began its landing, and the children from Akobo gathered to welcome it, it became clear that IMC had not yet arrived, but were held up by the treacherously muddy roads.
40 minutes had passed, and the pressure was mounting; suddenly the crew spotted two IMC staff sprinting through the mud towards the helicopter. The flooding had made it impossible to reach the landing strip with either a truck, or the personnel to assist with the offloading. There was a lot of disappointment, but the crew was convinced they would have to make the most of the situation and do their best to offload quickly, hoping to still make one more rotation of the helicopter possible, as originally planned, that same day. Then the team was presented with another challenge; a woman employed by JAM, the organisation managing the WFP warehouse in Akobo, was being carried towards the helicopter for urgent evacuation due to severe illness. This additional dilemma confirmed the need to take an immediate decision.
The Logistics Cluster and IMC logs officers did not wait, and quickly decided on the best thing to do: they asked if the community could help. Everyone turned out to be eager to participate, children being the most enthusiastic, and the offloading of the Plumpy Nut started. In fact, with the invaluable help of the children the helicopter was unloaded in a mere twenty minutes and amongst laughs and smiles; making it possible to complete another rotation, and to evacuate the ill JAM employee as soon as possible. The Logistics Cluster crew, JAM, and IMC are wholly indebted to the children of Akobo, who saved the day and made their community proud.
The Humanitarian Logistics Workshop, held in Mongolia from the 24th to the 27th September 2012, was an intensive four-day training and exercise. It was designed to enhance emergency response management knowledge and build capacity among senior logistics managers from a wide range of national and international organisations and agencies.
The workshop modules were developed and implemented by the WFP Logistics Development Unit (LDU) and the Global Logistics Cluster Support Cell (GLCSC) in Rome.
A facilitation team of four people from WFP/LDU, the GLCSC, and UNICEF was required to present the various training modules and conduct the exercises.
The team was also tasked with taking charge of the organisation and the logistics arrangements, both before and during the training, including the translation off all supporting documents from English to Mongolian.
- Twenty senior staff from the Mongolia National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), several Mongolian Technical Services representatives, the Mongolian Red Cross Society, UNICEF, IFRC, Save the Children, ACF, World Vision, and other national and international organisations and agencies attended the training.
- The Participants brought a substantial degree of humanitarian experience to the training and some specific skills and knowledge of different sectors [i.e. civil aviation, warehouse, customs, inspection, railway, etc.]
- Most of the participants are members of the existing Logistics Working Group in Mongolia.
The main objective of the workshop was to enhance the logistics response capacity of the humanitarian community in Mongolia.
The preparation for this training required an adaptation of existing WFP/Logistics Cluster training modules, exercises, and role plays. The material presented included:
- The Logistics Cluster role, mandate, activation process, Services Portfolio and tools.
- The WFP supply chain, inter-agency logistics services, emergency response, and preparedness tools.
- Presentation and discussions regarding challenges encountered in the Emergency Supply Chain, Planning & Sourcing, Transport, and Emergency Storage.
- Working Group exercises, identification of logistics gaps and needs, elaboration of Concept of Operation.
The workshop provided a forum for discussions and instruction to promote a clearer understanding of the role the participants play in inter-agency logistics mechanisms, vis-à-vis their respective organisation or technical services. In addition to the above, brainstorming sessions were organised; workshop attendees were dispatched in groups and requested to develop a list of issues or challenges that they would be likely to face in an emergency in the areas of: supply chain, planning in emergencies, transport, emergency storage, and other challenges related to managing humanitarian logistics. The issues and challenges were captured and the participants were asked to provide a list of actions that would allow for the reduction or removal of the risks and challenges and a proposed owner for further action.
Widespread flooding due to heavy rains and poor infrastructure is impacting thousands of lives in South Sudan. In Jonglei state, flooding has caused the destruction of numerous homes and businesses, forcing people to leave their communities and seek refuge elsewhere. While in Yida, the rains continue to exacerbate an already dire humanitarian crisis within the refugee camp.
In addition to the displacement of thousands in the community, the flooding has caused a rapid deterioration of the health situation in the affected areas, mainly in Jonglei State. As such, NGOs requested the support of the Logistics Cluster to airlift critical supplies including: mosquito nets, medical items and WASH commodities into Lankien, Ayot County, Jonglei State.
Within 15 hours of receiving the initial request from the NGOs MSF-H and TearFund, the Logistics Cluster mobilised to transport three rotations (6.4 mt/37 m3) of emergency supplies with the Mi8 Logistics Cluster helicopters. The emergency supplies included four Tearfund staff to work in the medical clinic, 3mt of Primary Health Care Center Kits and assorted drugs, 1.2mt of assorted medical supplies, vaccines, and a solar fridge for cold storage of the vaccines, and 2.1mt of blankets, plastic sheeting, mosquito nets, and buckets for MSF-H to supply emergency shelter supplies for the affected.
As the rains in Jonglei continue, additional cargo movement requests are being received and responded to on a critical priority basis.
In Yida, Unity State, the flooding has completely cut off a refugee settlement of over 60,000 people from all types of land transportation. These refugees have fled from the Republic of Sudan’s South Kordofan State are currently residing in the remote Yida camp. Many humanitarian organisations have set up in Yida in order to supply the refugees with critical programmes concerned with food, nutrition, shelter, WASH, protection, and health.
Yida camp is isolated; in the dry season it can only be accessed via surface transport over heavy bush track from the nearest village, Pariang. Due to the poor road conditions and the remoteness of Yida camp’s location, the humanitarian community is only able gain access via air transport. The air strip at the camp was constructed quickly by clearing land as a temporary measure and is currently in disrepair; however, helicopters remain the most reliable means of accessing Yida. Some organisations have continued to use fixed wing aircraft into Yida, however this at a limited capacity with the risk of further eroding the air strip. Yida is in danger of having even less capacity to respond to the growing needs of beneficiaries if critical repairs are not conducted immediately.
This week, in partnership with the Logistics Cluster, UNOPS has deployed a team of engineers to begin conducting crucial rehabilitation works on the airstrip. The equipment for the repairs is being moved by the Logistics Cluster Mi8 helicopter from Bentiu to Yida.
The Logistics Cluster has been attending coordination meetings taking place on the ground. Additionally, the Roving Logistics Officer has been assisting organisations with access to and information about air assets, UNHAS flight services, and coordination of flights to ensure that the valued air strip is uncongested. By coordinating flight times and aircraft type on the Yida airstrip and by providing information to partners, the Logistics Cluster continues to contribute to maintenance of the South Sudan Logistics pipeline during the rainy season (July – December).