DJIBOUTI -- WFP began preliminary construction on Sunday of the first ever logistics hub for humanitarian relief work in the Horn of Africa. The hub will enable WFP and its partners to coordinate more efficiently the assistance going to food insecure areas in the region.
Built near the Djibouti port, its strategic location is expected to shorten food assistance delivery times and costs. The port is also the main gateway for food entering Ethiopia, a nation housing over 1.8 million of WFP’s beneficiaries.
When construction ends in 2015, the facility will enable a smoother flow of assistance to the WFP’s Horn of Africa beneficiaries. People living in the Horn represent around one quarter of WFP’s total beneficiaries annually. Operations in the region span Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya and Somalia.
Develop local transport sector
The structure will also help the development of Djibouti’s transport sector; more than 120 truck and forklift drivers and 30 warehouse managers are being trained to meet new transport requirements in 2013 alone. “This capacity development undertaking benefits Djibouti not only through the reinforcement of its transport infrastructure but more importantly by the transfer of knowledge and expertise to Djiboutian professionals," said Ramiro Lopes Da Silva, WFP Assistant Executive Director.
The Djibouti government is also actively supporting its development and made 50,000 square meters of land available to the WFP for its establishment. The Government of Canada contributed US $ 18 million to build on this land and noted that the facility will enable them to reach a larger amount of food insecure people than ever before. The US $1.3 million donation made by the Government of Finland will provide for silo storage capacity development which is expected to yield major savings to transport, handling and related costs.
In addition to government donations, construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., has provided six forklifts and two generators to the hub’s development through its global partnership with WFP.
WFP's Ethiopia operation is building and managing the hub. It already moves the majority of its food assistance through the Djibouti port in partnership with the WFP Djibouti office.