It’s late November in Juba and heavy rains are transitioning to dry season in South Sudan. Temperatures are already hitting 40 degrees which is unusual for this time of year – that doesn’t normally happen until the peak of the dry season in mid-January.
This landlocked, central African country is not immune to the challenges of a changing climate and seasonal weather patterns. For the Logistics Cluster and its partners working in-country, flexibility and creativity are key to adapting to this constantly evolving operational environment.
As the mud begins to dry, the end of the rainy season comes as a sigh of relief for logisticians, marking the reopening of many roads and meaning physical access is once again possible. During this period humanitarians must act fast.
The Logistics Cluster plays a huge role during this limited window of opportunity, supporting the humanitarian community’s massive prepositioning activities ahead of the next rainy season.
Convoys play a vital role in these prepositioning activities. November saw the coordination of convoys increased to allow the participation of more than 88 vehicles from 8 different organisations along 4 different routes around the country. This has meant that during November, trucks were able to reach the far north of the country by road including stops in Bentiu and Yida near the border with Sudan, a rare achievement this early in the dry season.
During rainy season, air operations are often the only option to ensure cargo gets from A to B, but as road access improves, there is marked shift towards road movements. This change is crucial to reducing the cost of humanitarian activities as well as the operation’s carbon footprint, however, in order to facilitate this shift, greater storage capacity is required. As such, The Logistics Cluster has deployed a new Mobile Storage Unit to Yei, managed by ACROSS, in order to support the area’s humanitarian community. This new asset, brought by road in mid-November, is part of the Preparedness activities for the Ebola Virus Disease in the regions neighboring the Democratic Republic of Congo, namely Equatoria state.
With the huge increase in activity, keeping track of the large number of cargo movements is incredibly important and requires time and precision. Using the Relief Item Tracking Application (RITA), the Logistics Cluster receives and monitors more than 100 requests from different organisations each month. Over the last month, the team has scaled up its cargo tracking and flight planning capacities through the training of two additional staff in Juba.
The challenges posed by climate change as well as the environmental impacts of humanitarian operations are growing and important issues among the Logistics Cluster, its partners and the wider humanitarian community. The topics even formed part of the discussions at Global Logistics Cluster Meeting in November. Until a solution is achieved though, the dedicated Logistics Cluster staff and partners in the field in South Sudan will continue to practice flexibility and thoughtfulness as they adapt to these changing conditions.