Humanitarian Logistics

INTRODUCTION 1. Background of the Study Emergencies and disasters place exceptional demands on humanitarian logistics and calls for fast , agile and quick response to alleviate human lives. Deficiencies in the flow of supplies may result in dire consequences. As a result of continuous human and man-made disasters logistics has now become an important factor in humanitarian aid operations, to the “extent that logistics efforts account for 80 percent of disaster relief” (Trunick, 2005).

Humanitarian logistics encompasses a ranges of complicated activities as compared to commercial logistics, it ranges from preparedness, planning, procurement, transport, warehousing, tracking and tracing , customs clearance, communications, reporting , accountability , analyzing and managing complex information. The scope of procurement in a humanitarian situation is too wide; from sourcing medicals, equipment and transport, food, shelter and clothing, water and sanitation.

Zimbabwe is still in transition due to the complex and severe crises experienced over the last ten years, facing acute emergencies including droughts, floods, cholera, measles, typhoid , murambatsvina , the silent but devastating HIV and AIDS epidemic and the depleted capacity for basic social services. The number of NGO’s operating in Zimbabwe has increased as a result and humanitarian logistics is now taking a centre stage to ensure the effectiveness of all the interventions in disaster risk reductions considering that 80% of relief work is logistics .

The country experienced a sharp economic decline from 2000 to 2010 and this impacted heavily on humanitarian logistics in its effort to quickly respond to emergencies. Therefore, just as the science of logistics and supply chain management has become critically important for private sector logistics, so too it is becoming more important for humanitarian with the objectives of serving human lives. Humanitarian logistics skills remain underdeveloped, although it gained a few mileage both in academic and in practice after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

The Impact of the Tsunami was devastating – claiming the lives of over 200,000 people and leaving millions homeless . The media scrutiny was so intense highlighting some of the problems led to loss of so many lives and there were world wide outcries for improved logistics in humanitarian relief operations. However hundreds of people continue losing lives as a result of delays in humanitarian aid ranging from medicines, food, shelter, water and environmental health, and other basic human rights requirements Against this background humanitarian logistics face enormous challenges in its effort to ensure aid reaches recipients.

These challenges range from transporting sufficient essential supplies to affected areas in order to support basic living needs for those trapped. In many less developed countries, the physical and economic infrastructure my be a serious barrier to effective relief logistics, shortage of warehousing space, difficulties with commodity handling and packaging. The roads are often in poor condition, bridge weights are a major obstacle and sometimes become impassable, huge amounts of unrequested items arriving some inappropriate and unnecessary without packing lists or labels.

Warehouses rapidly gets overwhelmed and in most cases goods arrive at the disaster area at multiple sites in an uncoordinated way without prior notice unsorted and unclassified . Often humanitarian emergencies takes place in areas far from main sources of supply. Managing and coordinating a distribution process is one of the tantamount task logisticians face during a relief operation. Since logistics handles tracking of goods through the supply chain it is often the focal point of information gathering used to provide post event learning.

Logistics data reflects all aspects of execution, from the effectiveness of suppliers and transportation providers, to the cost and timeliness of response, to the appropriateness of donated goods and the management of information as it is critical to the performance of both current and future operations. Communications and the establishment of relevant, efficient and flexible emergency logistics and transport system is paramount to the success of relief operations. These challenges need to be managed and decisions made in the shortest period of time

When a disaster or an emergency strikes there are greater issues of safety (both human and goods), uncertainty in terms of demand, supplies and assessment. Humanitarian logistics faces pressure of time which, in this context is not just a question of money as compared to commercial logistics but a difference between life and death. This reflects the importance of logistics but the academic literature on humanitarian logistics is negligible indicating a need for more academic research in this emerging field.

Due to underdevelopment in humanitarian logistics , skilled staff are always in short supply and there has been little incentive to use the lessons learned from disasters by the academic fraternity to develop higher levels of learning in humanitarian logistics. Lars Gustavsson, Director of Emergency Response and Disaster Mitigation at World Vision International in 2004, emphasized that “Humanitarian Logisticians in the field are often not trained professionals but have developed their skills on the job.

Competency-based capacity-building initiatives and mechanisms need to be developed and supported so that humanitarian logisticians’ skills and know-how are raised to more professional levels .. ” Humanitarian logistics has the opportunity to increase its visibility and to be recognized for that contribution by implementing initiatives in the areas of knowledge management, positioning, policy formulation on disaster preparedness management, technology , information management through analyzing that information to garner insight as to how to improve operations.

There is need for developing a humanitarian logistics community in Zimbabwe where practitioners use communication strategies for sharing success stories through written articles and case studies that engage the media and the academic world 2. Problem Statement Due to the occurrence of several notorious disasters either natural or man-made calls for quick and agile logistical response to urgent relief needs through efficient emergency logistics operations to the alleviation of disaster impact in the affected area, which remains a challenge in the field of humanitarian logistics. . Purpose of the Proposed Study The purpose of the proposed research study is to identify the extent to which logistics impact on the overall humanitarian aid operation. It intends to establish from beneficiaries and benefactors’ perspective, the challenges being faced in humanitarian aid distributions as well as establishing if there is a misalignment . In addition, the research will draw lines between commercial logistics and humanitarian logistics with a view of influencing policy with regards to humanitarian logistics. 4. Objectives of the Proposed Study 1.

To identify how humanitarian logistics impact on the overall response to an emergency and disaster relief operation 2. To compare the views of beneficiaries and those of benefactors (donors) on emergency aid response management 3. To identify challenges and prospects associated with humanitarian aid logistical operations 4. To demonstrate the gaps between humanitarian logistics and commercial logistics 5. To gather information on humanitarian logistics to be used by learning institutions, donors and stakeholders to inform policy and development of future strategies on disaster risk reduction. . Research Questions 1. To what extent do humanitarian logistics impact on disaster or emergency relief operations ? 2. What are the challenges faced in humanitarian logistics operations comparing with commercial logistics ? 3. What are the views of beneficiaries and benefactors on relief operations, compare ? 4. Is, humanitarian logistics receiving enough attention both from academic, organizational and national perspective ? 5. What are the prospects of humanitarian logistics field ? 1. 6Significance of the Proposed Study

Despite the critical importance of emergency humanitarian logistics, relative to business logistics and supply chain management, only a limited amount of related research has been carried out. While humanitarian aid can be traced back to the formation of the Red Cross in 1863 , the academic literature on humanitarian logistics is limited and this indicates and warrant a need for more academic research in this emerging field. Further research is critical to the performance of both current and future humanitarian operations to reduce the number of deaths and destruction when disasters happens.

A European Ambassador at a post- Tsunami donor conference said, “ We don’t need a donors conference, we need a logistics conference”. To support this, a spokesperson for Doctors Without Borders said “What is needed are supply managers without borders: people to sort goods, identify priorities, track deliveries and direct the traffic of a relief effort in full gear” Disaster relief will continue to expand market, as it is forecasted that over the next 50 years, both natural and man-made disasters will increase five fold (Thomas and Kapcak, 2005). Delivering humanitarian aid an, therefore be seen as a substantial global industry. Humanitarian logistics account for 80% of all the operations indicating the need for developing specialized training from learning institution and to professionalize this booming industry in order to equip human resources with the necessary skills to pro-actively manage this complex field of operations management with the aim of alleviating the suffering of vulnerable and to aid in their survival. 1. 7 Assumptions The proposed research will be undertaken based on the following assumptions i.

The promise by Plan to support the research will be honoured. ii. The resources budgeted for the research by the researcher will be adequate iii. The researcher assumes that beneficiaries or respondents will have adequate time for interviews and group discussions. iv. The researcher assumes that the project success leads to academic and policy review on humanitarian logistics 1. 8 Scope of Proposed Study The proposed study will be undertaken in Mutoko District and Epworth near Harare where Plan International (and other aid agencies) are operating .

Further interviews from Field Humanitarian Logisticians will be extended to the other six program units where Plan and other NGO’s are currently supporting and these are Mutare, Chipinge, Kwekwe, Mutasa, Chiredzi and Bulawayo. 1. 9 Definition of Terms Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs): The World Bank’s operational directive on NGOs (No. 14. 70, August 1989) defines them as “groups and institutions that are entirely/largely independent of government and characterised primarily by humanitarian or cooperative rather than commercial objectives” (Jamali, 2003).

According to Jamali, the same operational directive also defines them as “private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, or undertake community development”. In this study these are also referred to as benefactors or development agencies. Disaster: Is defined the World Health Organisation as any occurrence that causes damage, destruction, ecological disruption, loss of human life, human suffering, deterioration of health and health services on a scale sufficient to warrant an extraordinary response from outside the affected community or area.

Humanitarian Logistics: “The process of planning, implementing and controlling the efficient, cost effective flow and storage of goods and materials as well as related information, from the point of origin to the point of consumption for the purpose of alleviating the suffering of vulnerable people” (Thomas and Mizushima, 2005) Humanitarian Emergency: Is an urgent response designed to save the lives subject to imminent threat, as result of a recent and significant increase in vulnerability, which occurs after for example natural hazard events, forced displacement, deteriorating security or exhaustion of local coping strategies.