Following lessons learnt during the Cyclone Idai response in 2019 and a scoping mission in January 2020, the World Food Programme (WFP) with the support of the Global Logistics Cluster (GLC) partnered with the Government of Zimbabwe’s Department of Civil Protection (DCP) on the Field-Based Preparedness Project (FBPP).
This was part of a larger effort to enhance local supply chain management capacity and improve emergency preparedness through pro-active and coordinated multi-stakeholder engagement.
The Project specifically aimed to strengthen localisation, encourage collaboration between Government, the humanitarian community, service providers, academia, and private sector, and empower national responders with the tools and knowledge needed to lead humanitarian logistics operations during times of disaster.
"Joint planning and implementation with government and the formation of a working group for all humanitarian supply chain stakeholders were key to the successes of the Project that enabled better networking, coordination, information sharing, and collaboration," said Penniless (Penny) Chikumba, Regional Field Support with the Zimbabwe FBPP.
A Logistics Preparedness Expert was deployed to Zimbabwe in late January 2020 to set up the Project foundations. Moreover, a National Preparedness Officer was employed to support implementation with colleagues from DCP. Despite delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, under the leadership of DCP, a gap analysis and action planning workshop was held in Harare in October 2020. During this workshop and through various consultations, a Logistics Preparedness Action Plan was developed, in which the key activities of the Project were detailed.
Implementation of the activities progressed largely without issue despite some delays experienced due to the pandemic and in some cases unavailability of stakeholders due to competing tasks. The main activity involved setting up the Zimbabwe National Logistics Sector (ZNLS), a working group for all stakeholders in humanitarian supply chain. The group was established to enable better logistics coordination, information sharing, and collaboration. The successes of the Project include three Warehouse Management trainings at national and subnational level, three Mobile Storage Unit assembly trainings, and piloting of subnational government emergency warehouse assessments.
"The Project brought stakeholders together to further discuss emergency preparedness and activities at the national and subnational level, and furthermore shed light on the importance of logistics in emergency preparedness and response efforts."
The multi-team approach employed during the Project-facilitated trainings was well received. A ‘training of trainer’ method was furthermore utilised in which willing participants were carefully selected from a body of key partners and government departments partnered with the ZNLS, and who had already been providing support to the national emergency response. Learning outcomes and overall confidence were reinforced through supporting facilitation by those previously trained. Each of the training sessions or working group meetings collected participant feedback, which was later implemented to the extent possible in subsequent sessions.
"With the teamwork displayed in the collaboration, I envision preparedness in Zimbabwe to improve as logistics is increasingly viewed as more than just a back-office function.”
The Project introduced the use of technology to support access to real-time logistics information through the Logistics Information Exchange (LogIE) platform and raised awareness with the government and the partners at district and provincial level. This laid a strong foundation to enable utilisation of the platform in the event of a large-scale emergency where the Government is dependent on the support of the Logistics Cluster. Other activities included supporting contingency planning and joint emergency preparedness and response training sessions.
The funding support for the Project ended on 30 June 2022. The activities have fully transitioned and are now jointly managed by the DCP and ZNLS, as well as existing disaster management and coordination systems in Zimbabwe. With the teamwork displayed during the collaboration, stakeholders envision preparedness in Zimbabwe to rise and emergency response to become more efficient in the coming years, with the ZNLS becoming an ideal emergency preparedness platform.