About the Logistics Cluster
Due to the ad hoc and unpredictable nature of many international responses to emergencies, the international humanitarian community (UN agencies, International Organisations and I/NGOs) reviewed past operations and identified consistent gaps and weaknesses. To address these issues the UN Emergency Response Coordinator, through OCHA, introduced an Agenda for Reform in September 2005. The reform was targeted to improve partnership between humanitarian actors and therefore enhance the overall response to emergencies, and was rapidly developed along three key axes, known as the three pillars of the reform: (1) Development of clusters at global and country levels. (2) Strengthening of the role of the Humanitarian Coordinator at field level. (3) Modification to key aspects of the funding mechanisms.
The Cluster Approach, one element of the Humanitarian Reform, was designed to facilitate the formation of groups of organisations, organised by sector, which would work together to improve humanitarian response. Originally there were nine Clusters; WASH, Protection, Nutrition, Education, Early Recovery, Emergency Shelter, Camp Management, Health, Emergency Telecommunications and Logistics. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) also agreed to designate global ‘cluster lead organisations’ to ensure that essential aspects of emergency response were properly coordinated, monitored, and that specific organisations could be held accountable for the activity in particular sectors of an emergency response. WFP, due to its expertise and vast field capacity, was mandated by the IASC to be the global lead of the Logistics Cluster.
The Logistics Cluster
The Logistics Cluster is responsible for coordination, information management, and, where necessary, logistics service provision to ensure an effective and efficient logistics response takes place in each and every operation. To achieve this goal, the Logistics Cluster fills gaps in logistics capacity, meets the need for logistics coordination services, and where necessary acts as ‘provider of last resort’ through the Lead Agency. Globally, the activities of the Logistics Cluster are driven by the Global Logistics Cluster Support Cell (GLCSC), based in Rome. The GLCSC, in regular consultation with partners in the humanitarian logistics community, has operationalized the overarching Cluster Mandate originally articulated by IASC, by focusing on the following areas of responsibility:
Operations – GLCSC Logisticians act as the focal point at the global level for Logistics Cluster operations, provide a concentration of logistics expertise, and regularly deploy in support of on-going activities or in response to sudden onset emergencies. GLCSC Logisticians support the activities of the Logistics Cluster by; representing the Logistics Cluster in the Field, facilitating coordination between humanitarian actors during emergencies, designing and managing logistics cluster activities, supporting deployed field staff and offering specific logistical support to specialized agencies.
Information Management – The primary role of GLCSC IM staff is to serve as the communications link between field operations and the Humanitarian Community. They support field operations directly by providing surge capacity at the onset of an emergency, establishing guidance and maintaining global standards to ensure continuity across operations, and directly filling the position of field IM Officer where additional trained personnel are unavailable. The IM Officers ensure that high quality, timely, and accurate information products are disseminated through the Logistics Cluster website to support activities at both the field and global levels.
Coordination – A central focus of the GLCSC is to act as a liaison between humanitarian actors, where logistics operations are concerned. To that end GLCSC staff: organise and participate in a variety of inter-organisational forums, prepare and disseminate regular updates on Logistics Cluster activities to partner organizations, and participate in a variety of specialized working groups.
Training – In order to improve coordination between humanitarian actors in logistics, allow for better information sharing between organizations, and improve the ability of our partners to understand and access services offered by the Logistics Cluster, GLCSC staff organize and facilitate multiple trainings each year including: Logistics Response Team (LRT) training, Stand-by Partner (SBP) training, and Logistics Emergency trainings for corporate partners.
Tools – The Logistics Cluster also works to develop tools aimed at improve the capacity, efficiency, and effectiveness of logistics response in emergencies. These tools represent the combined expertise of all Logistics Cluster partners, and are made available for the benefit of the humanitarian community via the Logistics Cluster Website.