‘Local responders are at the heart of the platform’

A look into the Pacific region’s latest humanitarian logistics tool
28 September 2018

In the lead-up to cyclone season, logisticians across the Pacific region sit down to review and revise their prepositioning strategies. Is there enough stocks at community, provincial, national and regional level? What stocks are a priority, in what quantities and where?

This task just became easier, better informed and more efficient. How? The PALM platform.

“The platform transforms the landscape for stockpile mapping reporting in the region. For the first time the dozens of responding agencies that preposition stock have an opportunity to do so in consideration of what other agencies are doing. For the first time, it provides a real opportunity to establish national prepositioning strategies in coordination with the region’s humanitarian community,” said Florent Chané, WFP Pacific’s Logistics Coordinator.

Prepositioning is a critical component of preparedness strategies globally to ensure quick access to life-saving materials and a reduction in transport times, so cargo reaches impacted populations faster. This is particularly true in regions such as the Pacific, where island nations and isolated communities face the reality of severe storms and flooding on a yearly basis. Enter: PALM.

What started as an idea - born from a 3-month consultation period in 2015 upon the opening of the WFP Pacific Office - is now a reality. Collecting data from more than 50 national and regional Pacific organisations, the tool provides an analysis and visualisation of stock reporting in real-time, allowing agencies to identify gaps, duplication and areas of collaboration.

PALM is a tool, driven, designed and developed for Pacific Island responding agencies, championing localisation and strengthening decision-making capacities of national actors.

“The platform aims to challenge the push-pull approach. For localisation to be implemented effectively in logistics, national and provincial responders must lead and take ownership of logistics data and decision-making. PALM allows National Disaster Management Offices to have a better overview about what is in-country, and reduces centralised decision-making at the regional level," said Florent. 

“What’s more, the largest responsibility and greatest workload – updating the data - rests on the those managing the storage facilities, putting local responders at the heart of the platform."

 

Last week, Florent led training for logistics coordinators regionally, as PALM begins to rollout across the Pacific. Jamie Newton, Supply Chain Manager at World Vision Australia, says logistics latest tool is a game changer for the region.

“For two years, organisations have been inputting their data into the Pacific Stockpile Mapping spreadsheet, and before this there wasn’t really anything to map stocks in the Pacific.  We now have a tool that will not only benefit agencies when it comes to preparedness and response, but a tool that everyone will benefit from.”

“I think this can change the way we look at and think about prepositioning and responding during emergencies. PALM will help agencies preposition the right stocks and quantities in the region, help eliminate too much stock being brought in during emergencies, and quickly highlight any gaps during the initial phase of a response.”

For Florent, the platform’s driving force was to develop something based on needs identified by Pacific Islanders, but a worldwide rollout, well, it's not out of the question.

“If other parts of the world see a similar need and have no other tool available, there’s the possibility that PALM can be expanded. The Pacific is often the last wheel of the cart when it comes to global attention. If PALM was seen as useful in other parts of the world, it’d be great to know the Pacific region was a leader in developing and implementing an innovative tool to better coordinate and guide prepositioning strategies wherever it might be needed.”

Learn more about Logistics Cluster preparedness work undertaken across the Pacific here.