It was a hot day, with the sound of clanging metal frames everywhere as a group of logisticians hammered down on ground spikes to hold a Mobile Storage Unit (MSU). From the distance, it may have looked like a normal day at Madhu Chara Logistics and Engineering hub, but that was not the case for Ashim Shrestha who was moving around to ensure everyone is involved and understanding the process.
The MSU erection training was in full swing with two teams immersed in different stages of the setup and at that moment, the Logistics Sector in Cox’s Bazar had reached a big milestone. During the latest edition of the MSU Erection and Cyclone Warehouse Drill, more than 100 humanitarians from partner organisations had been trained in less than 100 days.
“The realisation that we were able to reach out to 134 people from 33 different partner organisations, makes me very happy. It means we now have more people with technical knowledge on humanitarian logistics who can use these skills during the upcoming cyclone and monsoon season and for future emergencies”, says Ashim Shrestha, who leads the training projects for the Logistics Sector in Cox’s Bazar.
Ashim giving explainations to participants at a MSU set-up training in Cox's Bazar. Photo: Logistics Sector
For logisticians working on the Rohingya refugee response, having the right toolbox to overcome logistics challenges and constraints is crucial. This is true across 12 months of the year but is especially important during the cyclone and monsoon seasons, when weather conditions can change operations in an instant and sound knowledge of logistics can play a lifesaving role in the quick dispatch and delivery of items.
The Logistics Sector team, with Ashim Shrestha in lead, took on the task of facilitating training sessions, coordinating MSU set-ups and passing along valuable knowledge, techniques and practical insights across the six training sessions that have taken place so far this year. Ashim, who has been working in Cox’s Bazar for the last 13 months, is the person responsible for overseeing capacity strengthening and preparedness initiatives. For him, the job is incredibly rewarding.
“Trainings provide a platform to share my experience and expertise with trainees and pass along my knowledge. At the same time, it’s also an opportunity for me to learn from their experiences. It’s a two-way learning stream”, says Ashim
Capacity strengthening forms a core pillar of the Logistics Sector’s strategy in Cox’s Bazar in an effort to support the logistics response capacity of national staff from multiple partner organisations. “It is not rare to ask a room full of field logisticians whether they ever had any formal training in humanitarian logistics and get just a handful of positive nods. A lot of people have been learning logistics by doing and we want to fill this gap” says Otavio Costa, Logistics Sector Coordinator.
In the first months of 2019, three training curricula were offered to humanitarian partners: the Basic Humanitarian Logistics Course, MSU Erection Trainings and Warehouse Cyclone Preparedness Drills. Additionally, two training sessions are currently being developed: an Emergency Maintenance Driver’s Induction and the Basic Humanitarian Logistics Course II, as the Logistics Sector expands its capacity strengthening components to reach more partners with needed skills.
From entry to mid-level logistics assistants and officers, each training provides humanitarians from across the sector the resources to work together and improve their skillsets.
Through a combination of classroom sessions to hands-on demonstrations, the practical approach of these trainings is key to ensuring participants retain the content and see it being applied in their work environment.
“This was a very technical side of the MSU construction that I was able to witness from the training. I haven’t had the opportunity to experience something like this at my organisation. It was extremely beneficial,” says Kaniz Fatema Shikdur from Médecins Sans Frontières, as she stands against the MSU, now prepared for cyclone landfall following the training.