Vital supplies

Mike Whiting

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5 August 2010 | Michael Whiting

Today most humanitarian organisations such as charities and international aid groups operate with specific and diverse operational procedures and processes.

To strengthen cooperation, coordination and efficient delivery of services, the Global Logistics Cluster Support Cell has developed the Logistics Operational Guide (LOG) in collaboration with representatives of a wide range of humanitarian organisations. It is supported by the World Food Programme.

The objective of the guide is to improve the capacity of organisations to cooperate in logistics and achieve a more seamless supply chain to reach the people needing help faster.

The content of the LOG is based on information from manuals from 28 humanitarian organisations, academia and the private sector. More than 40 experts defined the scope of the tool. The guide is, and will remain, a joint platform for information and will continue to be updated and developed with new insights and thinking.

The goal was to provide information for all humanitarian logisticians deployed to emergency or ongoing operations regardless of the size of their organisation or its area of specialisation. There are standardised definitions, guidelines, general operational tools and templates.

There is a checklist to help prepare for deployment, as well as comprehensive tools, templates and information on what to do upon arrival. This looks at the cycle of an operation, including preparation, response, exit and the operational environment.

One aspect explains the three important aspects of humanitarian procurement: transparency; accountability; and efficiency and cost-effectiveness. It then provides information on how purchasing policies can be written and developed and the four steps of a procurement process in a disaster: needs identification; specification; sourcing; and contracting and supplier management.

Other aspects of the guide look at how to deal with customs, advice on developing a distribution plan and the options for models and how to maintain quality control – something often ignored in an emergency situation. There are also a number of sample templates and policies buyers can draw on as examples.

Logisticians working in the field frequently have limited internet access, so the LOG can be downloaded and all the information in the offline version can be searched and browsed in the same manner as it would in the online version. It is designed for full mobility for field work, allowing users seamless and continuous access to the reference tools and templates.

As the LOG is an ongoing project we want to encourage you to share your thoughts, tips and feedback. Please get in touch by emailing global.logisticscluster@wfp.org if you would like to contribute.

Key points

• The guide was created in collaboration with humanitarian organisations and experts

• It is designed to help groups work together, regardless of their size or purpose

• The authors are encouraging buyers to give feedback

The LOG can be viewed or downloaded free at www.logcluster.org/tools/log

MICHAEL WHITING is visiting lecturer in humanitarian logistics at Cranfield University and the Defence Academy

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Sustainability International Supply chain Sustainability international resources knowledge zone supply chain 2010

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