The Logistics Sector in Bangladesh: One Year On

A look back on the challenges and achievements from Cox’s Bazar
02 October 2018

Muddy hills. Heavily congested dirt roads. A monsoon season followed closely by an impending and unpredictable cyclone season. This paints the setting for what is today the largest refugee camp in the world: Kutupalong-Balukhali.

At the storage hub in Madhu Chara, hub manager Keely Severn coordinates offloading of hygiene kits on its way to families in need. Madhu Chara is one of three hubs across Cox’s Bazar where the Logistics Sector coordinates access to storage for live-saving humanitarian cargo through the World Food Programme and Handicap International.

 

365 days of coordination & collaboration

It’s been just over 12 months since the start of the Rohingya crisis in August 2017, when more than 700,000 people fled Myanmar's Rakhine state, crossing the border into neighbouring Bangladesh. As organisations scaled-up operations exponentially, the logistics capacity of the humanitarian community and of the local infrastructure became significantly constrained.

For the past year the Logistics Sector has been supporting the government-led humanitarian response in Cox’s Bazar, a district in southeast Bangladesh which not only hosts Kutupalong-Balukhali but the many other camps and sites where the Rohingya people have sought refuge. For 365 days, the team has been in working in overdrive, ensuring logistics gaps are covered and relief items can reach those in need.

At the outset of the crisis, storage was one of the first critical gaps identified by responders. One year on, 25,000 m3 of relief items, from dignity kits to medicine and shelter materials, have been stored in the hubs on behalf of 24 organisations.

That’s enough humanitarian aid to fill 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

 

With heavy congestion on the main roads and continuous repair and construction works, road blockages or closures are not uncommon. Through close collaboration with agencies, authorities and the military, the Logistics Sector maps road access within and around the camps to make sure logisticians have up-to-date information to plan their operations. Using the collected information, the Logistics Sector advocates with relevant actors to ensure road access is maintained on key routes for the delivery of relief items.

The Logistics Sector also supported the monsoon preparedness plans of organisations by making twenty containers available for storage of prepositioned and rapid response items. The containers were assigned to eight different organisations and placed in seven different locations.

 

What’s next?

It's been a challenging and rewarding 12 months for the Logistics Sector team in Cox’s Bazar. As operations enter their second year, and preparations for cyclone season are ongoing, the sector will continue to work as a common forum for the humanitarian community in Cox’s Bazar to discuss, solve and seek collaborative solutions to the most pressing logistics constraints.

Read more about the Logistics Sector operation in Bangladesh here.