Uttam Das has always been interested in everything that had to do with logistics. Growing up in Kalurghat, a heavily industrialised zone located on the banks of the Karnaphuli river, Uttam was surrounded by cranes, flatbed, and trucks, and it was through this that he developed a penchant for logistics and was inspired to pursue a career in this field.
Uttam began his logistics career working for one of the many large clothing manufacturers in Bangladesh, liaising with dozens of national and international clothing agencies and exporting samples around the world. But Uttam felt the call to put his skills to use in the humanitarian world and joined the World Food Programme-led Logistics Sector in Bangladesh in 2018, getting an insight into how logistics play out in the humanitarian sector. Since then, he has played a vital role as a storekeeper, responsible for everything related to warehousing, from overseeing the operations of the Madhu Chara hub, one of four runs by the Logistics Sector in Cox’s Bazar, to supervising the tally assistants. In fact, when walking into the Madhu Chara hub, you soon find out how familiar everyone is with "Uttam Da", meaning ‘Uttam the older brother’ in Bengali.
Uttam’s role has also seen him travel overseas, attending the Relief Item Tracking Application (RITA) training at WFP Headquarters in Rome where he had the opportunity to learn a new tool to improve his ability to track relief items stored by partners at the hub. Since 2018, he has been serving as the RITA focal point for the Logistics Sector in Bangladesh and supported partners on the use of this tool.
"Uttam is very professional, hard-working, resilient, and a keen learner. He is the face of the Logistics Sector's operations and maintains a good coordination relationship with all the partners on the ground," says Ashim Shrestha, a Logistics Officer and one of Uttam’s colleagues.
Working in a cyclone-prone area, Uttam has also become more involved in emergency preparedness, facilitating drills and trainings for partner organisations working in Cox’s Bazar to strengthen their capacities. Uttam also played a pivotal role in the Logistics Sector's response during the massive fire that swept through the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar last March, supporting partners by erecting mobile storage units and other logistical infrastructures like ablution units, lighting towers and generators.
"When an emergency strikes, as a logistician I feel the urge to respond to it to the best of my abilities,” says Uttam. “By establishing a channel with the partners I guarantee that their demands are met on time as well as ensuring that they are prepared to respond to any type of emergency."
“Uttam is a wonderful person who is supportive, cooperative, flexible, and approachable. Since 2018, he has always responded and acted promptly to every request made and support asked for,” said Jude Uzzwal Anzous from Relief International.
The Logistics Sector in Bangladesh has been operating in Cox’s Bazar since 2017 and works with partners to address common logistics gaps and challenges around the Rohingya response. As part of this, the Logistics Sector facilitates access to common storage for humanitarian partners, ensures smooth collaboration between responding organisations, produces and shares key logistics information, and builds local capacity.
To learn more about the Logistics Sector’s operations in Bangladesh, visit the dedicated operations page here.