Logistics Cluster irons out the admin in Haiti10 February 2010
Most of us would be pretty happy to receive a surprise gift which had been shipped halfway around the world especially so that we could help thousands of desperate people with it. But the reality in a massive emergency such as the response to the Haiti earthquake is that it pays to be prepared for these kinds of surprises.
Which is where UNHAS and the Logistics Cluster, led by the World Food Programme, came in – in style. A sizeable donation of medical supplies and food from the Taiwan government had been flown on a presidential aircraft into Santo Domingo in neighbouring Dominican Republic. The big question was – how to get it into Haiti and out to people in need as quickly as possible.
The problem was mentioned by the Dominican Republic Secretary of State to German Puente and Jose Odini from the UNHAS team in Santo Domingo during a meeting. The two immediately offered their services to assist the Dominican Civilian Defence who were handling the issue.
One of the cluster system’s greatest strengths is bringing divergent groups of people together to find the most efficient response in the circumstances. Everything proceeded very quickly. A tent was prepared at La Isabela airport where the cargo had been kept, and the UNHAS team got to work palletizing the cargo, with the help of labourers provided by the National Airport Authorities. The goods were then loaded onto WFP’s Caribou aircraft which carries out daily shuttles between the two capitals.
The take-off was attended by the Taiwanese Commercial Attache, the Head of the Dominican Civil Defense, the Minister attached to the Haitian Embassy and other high authorities, greeted in Port-au-Prince by UNHAS and Logs Cluster personnel, and immediately moved onwards straight to people in need. No delays, minumum red tape, and the only fuss being where to take the team photo.
At the airport to receive the goods on behalf of the Haitian government was the Director of the Haiti Civil Protection Department, Altea Jean Baptiste.
It was a good day’s work. Matthew Hollingworth, Global Logistics Cluster Coordinator, had the biggest smile of all.