In effort to build the capacity within the sector, Logistics Learning Alliance (LLA UK) has been partnering with the ICRC and other organisations since 2006 through the FRITZ CHL, CHSCM and the Humanitarian Medical Logistics Practice (Distance Learning) programmes. The LLA’s Humanitarian Essential Logistics Modules (HELM) covers essential topics and roles in the humanitarian logistics and supply chains. HELM is delivered in Kenya, Turkey, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Haiti.

The ICRC LSC Nairobi has since 2016 played an essential role in hosting HELM students, which are facilitated by Haydn Sandvig, who is a facility member and the Director of International Business for LLA, he also a member and advisor for the HLA, and an Ambassador for the Institute of Supply Chain Management (IoSCM). Both HLA and IoSCM endorse the HELM sessions.

During their visit to the LSC Nairobi, students interacted with practical aspects of Supply Chain, Warehousing, Fleet Management, Medial Logistics and Quality Assurance practices. This interaction allowed students to connect theory and practice and learn from the best practices exhibited at the LSC Nairobi. The quarterly visits will also be beneficial for exchanging knowledge and experiences between the students and LSC staff, given that many of the students are practicing in their home countries. A video (posted in the HLA Member Zone) captures one of the visits that occurred recently on May 13 2022, where learners got the chance to visit various departments, observe real-time processes ask questions and interact with different members.

Supply chains were disrupted before the war in Ukraine “Even before COVID-19 reduced incomes and disrupted supply chains, chronic and acute hunger were on the rise due to various factors, including conflict, socio-economic conditions, natural hazards, climate change and pests.” May 24, World Bank

What will happen now that there are less than 10 weeks of global wheat supply?

“Global wheat inventories currently stand at about 10 weeks of global consumption, a food supply expert said during a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council on May 19.” May 23,

A perfect storm

Common causes of humanitarian disasters are: political unrest and conflict, environmental causes, healthcare emergencies, population displacement, hunger and malnutrition and lack of basic services. More than ever before this constellation of crises has created challenges that can only be solved by doing things better and differently from before.

A lot of attention has been given to the war in Ukraine. Not because it is the only war going on, but because the sheer scale and speed of internally displaced and people on the move has dwarfed anything seen in our lifetimes. And although most of the largest NGOs in the world are headquartered in Europe most of their work is done in other continents. Many were caught with their supply chain pants down.

And what will happen now that the war in Ukraine has created a perfect storm in food insecurity? The private sector is rushing to find solutions to this problem, but we know that the most vulnerable will suffer the most, and they had no margin of error. These complex crises are compounding, and the humanitarian sector needs to up its game.

Responding to crisis requires a coordinated response – across agencies, organizations, governments, borders and sectors. Moving critical and lifesaving supplies requires tools and platforms that until today did not exist. Organizations like the World Food Program do a great job with their supply chain and logistics but their platform is not open to all of the countless other oganizations that are required for these responses.

trellyz designed its platform to provide the multi-entity, location-based coordination to all actors in the public service and humanitarian space. Its RefAid app is being used by 8,000 organizations in 41 countries to disseminate information about critical services. But the only way to get the critical services need to people who need it most is to increase visibility of needed supplies and potential donations of goods. trellyz launched its Logistics Hub with this goal in mind.

Call to action: If you have or know of donations in kinds, supplies that are available anywhere in the world to aid organizations and those helping provide resources to the humanitarian supply chain, get an account now. If your organization, or one you know needs supplies, get an account to list these requests now. If you offer logistics and freight forwarding, please register to offer these to those with offers or requests. The trellyz Logistics Hub has a super easy user experience and its possible to use the platform exclusively for your own organization or trusted partners in a small network is supporting the use of the platform for the Ukraine crisis, but there are so many more uses. And we are here to help, with the active support of our Logistics Alliance members: HLA, WCA (WorldCargo Alliance), Microsoft, Distribute Aid and DEMAC.

During the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Weeks (HNPW), HLA ran a session on local procurement. This session brought together participants from a wide range of organisations in Geneva and around the world.  

Shorter supply chains have long been a big topic in the humanitarian community. Buying supplies locally instead of flying them in from abroad can support the economy in a crisis-affected area while at the same time being more efficient and environmentally friendly. However, many questions and issues remain. The new Local Procurement Learning Partnership (LPLP) focuses on these.

Rebekah Yore introduced participants to the LPLP. Its first proposed project is the establishment of a local supplier register, a shared database hosted by HLA that will promote easier and more effective local procurement. LPLP will also gather evidence of the impact of using local procurement to support beneficiary communities and establish baseline metrics for local procurement spend, aiming to move towards making procurement a part of programming. Finally, LPLP will address compliance and quality barriers that local suppliers and manufacturers experience. 


The impact of COVID-19

According to Daniel Birungi (Uganda Manufacturing Association) “the COVID pandemic forced a pivoting of procurement due to limitations in access to global supply chains. The silver lining out of the COVID pandemic on the international sourcing front was in the realization that capacity exists to supply several of the items previously sourced globally. Today’s story is a mixed bag though as the opening up of logistical limitations is seeing some pivoting back into the pre-covid mentality and reinforcement of the (often) restrictive procurement guidelines.” This echoes findings from a study by HLA intern and King’s College London student Caoimhe Macgabbhan who recently published her report entitled “Localisation in the Aid Logistics Sector: Perceptions, Challenges, and Opportunities”. 

Claire Travers presented her recent research. This included supply chain disruptions experienced in the humanitarian aid sector in 2020 and highlighted the variety of issues encountered. A majority of interviewees reported experiencing unpredictable pricing, an inability to source, purchase, or receive items, increased lead times, and quality concerns when items were finally delivered. 

Given the likelihood of future large-scale disruptions, Daniel Birungi called for “inbuilt targets for local procurement that are reviewed and updated regularly” to “build resilience into international humanitarian procurement practices by pushing ever-increasing levels of local procurement”.  Participants agreed that this was an important consideration. 


Societal impact

Susan Hodgson (Save the Children International) highlighted that local procurement “has to be better than moving stock internationally and reducing local economy” and “can benefit socially by providing jobs, better standards of living etc.”. This opinion was widely shared in the room. Wojciech Piotrowicz (HUMLOG Institute), who is an advisor to the Government Centre for Security in Poland, highlighted the pointlessness of shipping items that are freely available in Poland there to help refugees from Ukraine. 

Daniel Birungi pointed out that “from the perspective of a host community on the refugee front, local procurement is also a fast-track method of ensuring community buy in”. John Jal (YSAT), who represents a refugee-led organisation, highlighted their involvement in the COVID-19 response with vital products like handwashing stations. 

Susan Hodgson agreed that community involvement is important, “including diverse groups, female owned businesses, community businesses, not just large ones or suppliers based in capital cities but how we can drive a really local approach”. This tied into a wider debate about how “local” local procurement should be. In the session, it was agreed that the key measure should be that the money stays in the area.

As a further advantage of local procurement, its potentially lower environmental impact was highlighted in the session. However, Susan Hodgson cautioned that “local may not always be greener, and we need to address this”. Daniel Birungi believes that local procurement is “a good driver of sustainability and sustainable sourcing”. Susan Hodgson added that by sourcing more locally, organisations can “help local suppliers to drive greener solutions”. 


Lingering concerns

John Jal highlighted the difficulties his organisation faced in “getting the funds approved to be used by YSAT to innovate a unique solution for the pandemic”. He stated that YSAT was faced with mistrust and “the technical rigidity with internal procurement systems, fear of the unknown, and the top-down procurement policy”. Participants agreed that these are common issues they have seen across multiple contexts. 

Daniel Birungi pointed out that in his experience “complaints always arise around the complexity of the procurement systems and the fact that most INGOs do centralized procurement with decisions made quite far from the local context”. Many organisations are now decentralising their processes. 

Cost savings are a key argument for centralised, global procurement. Higher up-front cost for buying local can be off-putting.  However, the ability to source replacement parts or service items throughout their whole lifecycle must also be considered. In areas that are hard to reach, this can be a real challenge unless supplies and expertise are available locally. 

There were also questions about compliance with standards and the difficulties of gaining reliable information on local suppliers and their performance. Safeguarding was highlighted as one crucial concern to avoid local procurement driving practices such as child labour. Daniel Birungi highlighted that “there already exists significant local capacity to vet compliance to international best practices and this must be the bare minimum requirement for getting a foot into the international procurement landscape”.

While there was wide agreement that local procurement should be increased, many open questions remain. The LPLP offers a forum for those working in this area to come together to exchange experiences and find ways to overcome issues. 

- Dr Sarah Schiffling, Senior Lecturer in Supply Chain Management, Liverpool John Moores University


Learn more about the Local Procurement Learning Partnership by visiting their dedicated page on the new HLA website.

HLA Board member Dr Sarah Schiffling and Nikolaos Valantasis Kanellos analyzed five areas that are likely to be impacted in order to highlight how Ukraine is intertwined with major global supply chains. Read more

According to The Aid Files 2021 was another incredibly challenging year for NGOs across the world and as we prepare for our third year of global pandemic. This video report from GOONJ in India illustrates how terrible the experience has been for many, and outlines the challenges of the coming year.

It may just be the most sweeping revolution you’ve never heard of, but as the world is transfixed by China’s digital advancements, its internet juggernauts and frenetic innovation in the last decade, India is undergoing its own upheaval measured in terabytes, largely away from the international media spotlight. Some 1.2 billion people are now registered on Aadhaar, the national biometric digital identity programme introduced in 2009. INSEAD’s recent blog notes that more than 80 percent of Indian adults now have at least one digital financial account.

This of course is having a massive impact on the performance of local markets and the ways in which humanitarian assistance can be provided. 2022 will see HLA’s launch of several policy and advocacy groups. The Local Procurement Learning Partnership (LPLP), founded in 2021, will focus on gathering evidence for change within the aid sector. The impact of the pandemic and the huge digital advancements will become a significant focus as will the need to forecast transport capacity requirements ahead of time to help mitigate shipping bottlenecks.

As noted in Bollore Logistics’ recent newsletter, the current health crisis has had a chaotic and never-before-seen impact on both local and international freight transportation and across all modes.

Have your say by joining the HLA.

So, after a year's planning the HLA has a new look and a new strategy that we will be rolling out over the next few weeks and months. Our aim is to provide our members with much more value than ever before and to develop a stronger and more complementary network that supports the evolution of humanitarian logistics. Please watch this space for more updates and follow us via our social media channels.

Meanwhile, do plan on joining us at the Health and Humanitarian Logistics Conference from 20 to 22 September. The three key elements - local procurement, health supply chain capacity strengthening and last mile - are linked to new advocacy groups, which are a component of the new HLA strategy. If you are affiliated with an NGO or are from the Public Sector in a low or low and middle income country you can apply for complementary registration.