ACE WEBINAR ON PANDEMICS AND NATURAL DISASTERS:
RETHINKING HUMANITARIAN LOGISTICS
While the global pandemic has interrupted capacity building efforts such as the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme, the Centre continues to provide education for ACE Programme graduates. The AHA Centre recently implemented a webinar series to support its objectives of capacity-building, networking, and utilising leadership competencies to improve national and regional coordination response mechanisms and disaster management more broadly. The webinars will run from September to November 2020, and are primarily intended to expose the ACE Programme graduates to the latest trends and challenges in disaster management.
The first webinar was conducted on 16 September 2020, in which experts and practitioners from International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and HELP Logistics shared their humanitarian logistics experiences managing humanitarian relief operations amidst COVID-19.
This pandemic has disrupted humanitarian relief operations in many ways. Restrictions limit the deployment of items and staff to the field, while global shortages of specific items (such as personal protective equipment – PPE) also hampered the supply chain at the beginning of the pandemic. Alongside this, the speed of deployment has been affected due to border closures and also shortage of commercial flights. Delays on getting tax exemptions remain a challenge as many officials work from home, reducing human resource capacity to process documentation, while some stakeholders maintain their usual ways of working in contrast with the general crisis business approaches.
All webinar speakers agreed that this pandemic has forced humanitarian actors to be agile in terms of planning and operations. This can begin with creating closer supply chain hubs, outsourcing to the private sector, and integrating efforts and coordination with manufacturers/suppliers on medical PPE. The speakers also pointed out the importance of logistic sustainability and responsiveness, by enhancing local logistic capacity and prepositioning of commodities which are contextualised according to the population density. The use of non-in-kind assistance, for example cash, is also an option to ensure effective humanitarian assistance. Speakers and participants agreed that export-import restriction and country isolation are the most serious challenges for disaster impact that need to be addressed. In this sense, collaboration and cooperation among stakeholders is required to improve the logistic supply chain and reduce the supply competition.
The first two-hour webinar was attended by 150 participants from various sectors – with 77% of the participants having a background in disaster management and 87% having some job responsibility related to humanitarian logistic. ACE Programme graduate Ms Murni Mat Amin from the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) Malaysia summed up the discussion as a key step to “think strategically and act collaboratively”. The bonding between ACE Programme graduates through engagement such as this form a further opportunity to ensure an efficient flow of humanitarian logistic across the region.
Written by : Gaynor Tanyang/ Ferosa Arsadita | Photo : AHA Centre