A young boy enjoying his Plumpy'nut (Photo: Ministry of Health and Child Welfare)
WFP is at the forefront of humanitarian logistics in Zimbabwe, delivering much-needed food assistance to more than a million people in 40 districts this year. However, the number of Zimbabweans benefiting from WFP’s role as logistics service provider and advisor to government and other humanitarian organisations is much greater. In response to a request by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, WFP has recently assessed the national supply chain of a nutritional product given to severely malnourished patients, and has designed procedures to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the programme.
In late 2011, the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare (MoHCW) contacted WFP requesting storage space for 18,000 cartons of Plumpy’nut, a therapeutic food purchased by UNICEF who deliver it to some 1,500 health centres around the country. The Ministry and UNICEF work together on a programme aimed at treating severely malnourished patients with ready-to-use therapeutic foods and clinical protocols. WFP works alongside these partners in the fight against malnutrition in Zimbabwe, and is currently implementing another health programme focused on moderate malnutrition in 388 clinics.
One problem faced by the Ministry involved maintaining appropriate stock levels and keeping the Plumpy’nut fresh.
“We told them that storage was not the whole problem and that if they only addressed the storage issue, the same problems would arise next year,” says Vladimir Jovcev, head of WFP’s logistics unit. “The whole supply chain needed to be looked at.”
MoHCW, with support from WFP, conducted a countrywide assessment of how the nutritional programme was being managed, from ordering stock to transporting it around the country and reaching the homes of malnourished people.
“We don’t want to build any parallel structures, rather we are trying to identify gaps and strengthen existing structures,” Jovcev says.
Vakai Makanganise, National Nutrition Logistics Officer from the MoHCW, says they lacked the logistical expertise to manage and distribute the product effectively.
“Considering the complexities of the health centres in the country, and that some are in very remote areas, we were struggling to reach them,” he says. “We're now working together to come up with a clear, functional and accountable supply chain, and are introducing important documentation such as stock cards, consignment notes, delivery and dispatch notes, and receipt vouchers. This will ensure that the Plumpy’nut stays fresh, is delivered on time and in the correct quantities”.
After analyzing the results of the assessment, it has been decided that provinces should be supplied with rations of Plumpy’nut from a central warehouse in Harare every three months. By way of a pilot, temperature controlled containers will be installed in the provincial centres that lacked sufficient storage facilities, beginning in Manicaland, Masvingo and Midlands.
“Now that the gaps are highlighted and a way forward has been determined, we're working with MoHCW and UNICEF to implement these changes,” Jovcev says. “Clinic staff will be trained to ensure they all use the same reporting, storage and administration standards.”
With improved logistics and communication procedures put in place, the Ministry and UNICEF will be able to maintain sufficient stock levels and make sure that the people who need it most receive high-quality Plumpy’nut regularly and on time.