“I am Tabinda Syed, Logistics Officer working in UNICEF Pakistan and based in the earthquake affected area since the third day of the calamity that hit on 8th Oct 2005. I recently completed my Certification in Humanitarian Logistics.
“Official estimates are that over 73000 people lost their lives and people become homeless. The aftershocks continued for almost six months. There was lack of infrastructure and trained staff. The operation started in a flour mill, the walls of which were badly cracked. Worse, it had seven doors making theft very easy. There were no support staff and the labours available at the mill were used to handling only grains. They needed training from stacking to loading trucks and the only option was to give on job training due to lack of time. Lack of sleep and severe weather conditions made it more challenging to keep the flow of life saving supplies. There was no access to the affected areas by road and we had to rely on air transport.
“With the arrival of our first rubhall we were able to shift to a premises shared with WFP. From there onwards things started improving and with in a month a fully functional logistics base was established. More then $14 million worth of supplies were distributed in the first phase of emergency in two districts alone. During the later phase we were able to handle supplies worth around $20 million.
“The Certification in Humanitarian Logistics course started in February 2006 in the midst of the massive supply chain response. I remember that when I first started responding on tasks I would always look around to see how things were happening in reality. Most of the tasks were routine jobs for us but by going through the reading material it helped to understand the broader picture and to link the intricate parts. My work coincided with the units in a perfect way. For instance during the warehousing unit I was involved in setting up a warehouse in Mansehra District and then later we had to move the entire setup to another neighboring district for operational requirements. I remember that one of the tasks was to move Jumna warehouse to Dhetra due to the hurricane emergency and it practically helped me to consider all aspects while moving my own warehouse. Sometimes I had to wake up at four in the morning to finish a task and it will give me a fresh start for applying my newly acquired knowledge at work.
“In the later part of 2006 I was asked to assist in the flood emergency in the North Eastern Province of Kenya which helped broaden my vision of supply chain management. I was able to successfully implement all bench marks in relatively short time. I was doing the transport unit at that time and had to manage distribution using air and road transport. For a while I had to look after the regional logistics operation of East Africa. I guess the encouraging feedback from my tutors gave me the courage to take this huge challenge.
“The course not only complimented my work but those working in my team. The new things learned were shared and practically applied. One of my Logistics Assistants is now doing the same course and had the opportunity to assist in Gizo Island affected by tsunami. I had the opportunity to develop capacity of local NGOs and government counterparts engaged in logistics operations by rendering trainings. Recently I am asked to extend the services to Myanmar office and to train the local staff in supply chain management.
“The course not only gave us the confidence to do our jobs well and to excel in our careers but also helped to enhance the importance of this profession. I am glad to be part of it who can apply the acquired knowledge in the field.”