Humanitarian Logistics: To the rescue during calamities
Humanitarian Logistics is a specialised area of logistics, which requires expertise in organising the delivery and warehousing of supplies during natural disasters or complex emergencies to the CARGOTALK affected area and people. delves into the main cha
Shailendra Seth Country Manager, India, Chapman Freeborn
Humanitarian logistics is a highly-specialised activity; every aid operation is different. Chapman Freeborn has been involved in this field for over 40 years, whether it’s an airdrop contract or a more conventional cargo charter movement, we’re accessible with a unique set of challenges to overcome.
In terms of sudden aid airlift operations. Bottlenecks can quickly occur if the airport infrastructure is unable to handle the sudden surge in cargo arriving for onward distribution. Some humanitarian airlifts security issues on ground can also mean there are a limited number of operators willing to fly to certain destinations. This can affect the whole distribution chain, with aid agencies having to fly cargo to neighbouring countries and transferring the cargo to local operators with limited capacity. We’ve seen this in the past with some humanitarian airlifts in response to famines in East Africa. While on paper there might be plenty of charter capacity available in the market, in reality there are a limited number of carriers able to operate in the most challenging locations.
A further consideration with many emergency airlifts is securing fuel for operations in remote regions, as well as all of the necessary overflight, landing and diplomatic permissions. Having our in-house operations division Wings 24 is an important asset – and it’s another example of why agencies like to work with charter companies with extensive experience in managing aid projects.
Shesh Kulkarni Managing Director - India, MIQ Logistics India
It is important that we understand the state of affairs in India. Unlike in developed economies, ease of doing business, inflation rate, cost of raising capital, predictability, infrastructure, etc are all complementary to both individuals and companies which ensures no cost overruns and frustrations associated to doing business is there.
While here in India every matter starting from mere walk on street, to cost of raising capital, is all a serious effort and often a frustrating one too, post all this, when organisations have to stand up and support humanitarian causes, many find and experience lack of enthusiasm, however, many still do stand up and deliver humanitarian support. This is seen a lot with domestic transport companies or Indian companies in general, who respond very well at hour of need.
Second aspect which has acted as deterrent for industry is lack of credible channels to extend support. Most Indian logistics companies lack the administrative bandwidth to undertake humanitarian activity at large-scale, while at individual level, many logistics companies have supported and undertaken the humanitarian causes.
As companies we still have long way to go. In coming years, many initiatives implemented by our present Prime Minister would inspire and motivate many companies to come forward, participate and support. India is on verge of change and in coming years one should expect more participation of logistics companies in humanitarian activities.
Shrirang Bapat Senior Manager - Marketing (India sub-Continent Middle East and Africa District), UPS
Natural disasters and global crisis create devastating human suffering that demands coordinated and swift relief efforts every year. Collaboration, expertise, innovation and connectivity to a smart global network are critical to overcome the challenges of enhancing community disaster risk reduction and preparedness efforts, supporting urgent response, speeding post-crisis recovery and providing timely final mile delivery in inaccessible areas.
Humanitarian crises disrupt business, destroy infrastructure and break essential supply chains. In 2016, UPS has provided over $10 million in humanitarian relief funding for disaster response, recovery and emergency preparedness, and coordinated 468 humanitarian shipments across 53 countries. UPS responds by not only donating money and materials but also donating time and expertise of UPS volunteers who support partner organisations’ efforts. In 2014, the company pledged to achieve 20 million volunteer hours by 2020. Today, we have gone past the halfway point and have achieved 64 per cent of our goal. UPS has partnerships with the world’s leading humanitarian relief organisations including the World Food Programme, WHO, Save the Children, American Red Cross, CARE, UN-OCHA, UNICEF, UNISDR, UNHCR, Good360, NVOAD, MedShare, and the Salvation Army. In India, the President's Emergency Programme for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) collaborates exclusively with UPS to transport medicines to affected people across the world.
We transport approximately 10,200 tonnes of supplies per year. In India, we also provide aid partners, such as pharmaceutical companies, warehouse facilities to store shipments and reduce lead times. Globally, UPS has also had a long standing association with the United Nations and provides support for relief efforts from India. In some regions, there is lack of basic infrastructure for vehicles to carry medical aid. Building publicprivate partnerships and implementing our latest technological solutions keep networks evolving. We believe that employees and customers should live in safe communities that are well-prepared for disasters and equipped to recover from them quickly to minimise long-term social and economic impact.
Martijn Tasma National Sales Director, Geodis India
With humanitarian logistics, every stage, right from the start of the logistical activity until the last mile delivery, is a challenge. The logistics company needs to find suitable solutions at the shortest time, with safe transport options at a low cost. Fixing a warehouse & re-distribution network located at a proximal distance from the relief sites is also another challenge. Transport solutions sometimes require uncommon points of transport. If the impact of the disaster is of huge magnitude, it will certainly affect the total imports and exports of that location/city.
The logistics companies are not showing much of interest because no one knows where the disaster is going happen in most of the cases. Everything is unpredictable and can go wrong – right from the sourcing until final delivery. Secondly, the goods are more time bound and the pressure is to deliver faster all the time. Most of the time the goods need to fly on charter aircrafts. The logistics companies will have very little time to find committed space or flight at low cost. The logistics companies need to have a separate team to handle this emergency shipments, which is sporadic in nature.
Sumit Sharma Co-Founder, GoBolt
Being specialised in organising the delivery and warehousing of supplies during natural calamities or during complex emergencies humanitarian logistics play a very crucial role in logistic sector. Humanitarian logistics faces many challenges like inadequate training to tackle an emergency situation. Poor infrastructure can cause high damage to the transport which can result in fail of the whole network, lack of standard indicators and no comprehensive planning of the bulk transportation gives poor consequences. Providing relief to those who need help is what requires to be done by humanitarian logistics. Natural calamities are something which cannot be predicted by anyone, which thus increase the importance of humanitarian logistics sector in today’s world. Today, not everybody wants to be a doctor or engineer, but those can explore this field. Not just they will be making career, but, also help people who need support.
The unpredictable time, location, type and size of the demand make it hard for logistics companies to get itself involved in humanitarian logistics. Apart from this, it is also difficult for a logistics company to track down the location, the type and size of the event and the last mile factor. The goal of any of the logistics companies is to supply high quality product at a low cost to maximise its profitability which can’t be done in humanitarian supply chain.