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Enhancing emergency preparedness with the Logistics Intervention Fleet

At the onset of an emergency, Logistics can be seen in many places -- WFP trucks move in, vessels with food aid dock at the ports and sometimes airlifts quickly fly in much needed assistance.  The side of Logistics that most may not see is what’s going on behind the scenes.

Through emergency preparedness, logisticians are able to ensure that they are not only ready for a sudden disaster, but that they have the tools needed to respond.  One of these tools is the recently established Logistics Intervention Fleet (LIF). As part of a global initiative to make efficient use of regional fleet and truck surpluses, WFP is able to improve its emergency response capacities through a network of strategically located emergency fleets. A resourceful and cost-efficient way to reshuffle and maximize trucks not in use, there are three strategic fleets in total: East Africa, West Africa and Central America & the Caribbean.

In the past, finding trucks suited for the very difficult conditions often found at the onset of an emergency has been a challenge, especially since these are not usually available with local transporters. Because specialised all-terrain trucks are key to reaching vulnerable populations in isolated areas, these fleets will play a vital role in ensuring that WFP is sustainably capable and independent in their emergency response capacities.

The first pilot project of the LIF fleet is underway in Kampala, Uganda, where consolidation of excess trucking assets from East Africa has been centralized in preparation for their new emergency roles. So far, the Kampala pilot project has accrued significant cost-savings, as the handful of costs associated with owning and maintaining a fleet has been divided amongst several Country Offices (CO’s) – and has not been absorbed by individual CO’s as was done in the past.  On top of cost-efficiency, the beauty of this deal is that the centralized fleet ensures that all participating countries in East Africa have immediate access to reliable trucks when they most need them. 

While the fleet is envisaged to begin its operations by early 2012, the project has already provided tangible benefits to the countries supporting this initiative such as significant cost reductions for overall maintenance, running and overhead costs. On stand-by and ready for deployment, the entire fleet of at least 25 fully operational trucks can be sent to any of the countries in the East African region within 5 days of a request being received.

Project Manager Thomas Goransson, emphasized the importance of team work when he spoke about the LIF’s accomplishments thus far. “Without the continuous support from the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB), the global fleet manager, the regional logistics officer, and the Uganda Country Office, this would not have been possible.”
 

Above photo credit: WFP/Thomas Goransson

Care

It's essential to plan and execute logistics during humanitarian operations with utmost care.