From teacher, to logistician
In February 2016, the southern hemisphere’s strongest ever tropical cyclone on record, Cyclone Winston, tore through the Pacific Island nation of Fiji. Home to 869,458 people across 110 islands, the category 5 cyclone impacted villages and remote communities across the country. Logistics infrastructure was critical to reach those in need.
Fast forward three years, and logistics remains the backbone of emergency response operations across the region.
The Pacific Logistics Cluster, led by the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Fiji office, brings together a community of responders before disaster, working as one on activities and initiatives to strengthen supply chain systems.
One such initiative is the recently launched three-way partnership between Pacific Red Cross National Societies, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and WFP. The partnership seeks to strengthen logistics capacity, with focus at community level.
“Logistics preparedness is important to know our options and limits, plan efficiently and make the right decisions for any specific challenges that may arise.”
That’s Vani. She’s the first logistics development intern to take part in the initiative’s two-month internship programme. Vani was selected from the Fiji Red Cross’ Ba Province Branch. Located in the north-west of Fiji’s main island Viti Levu, the province is home to 107 villages.
If disaster hits, the province’s local Red Cross responders are often among the first to reach those in need.
“In the Pacific, community responders play an incredibly important role. Hosting an intern from a local Red Cross Branch office allows us at IFRC and WFP to better understand the challenges faced by Red Cross volunteers, and ensure our support is adapted accordingly,” said IFRC Logistics Manager, Catherine Harris.
This month, we caught up with Vani on her experience and how she believes it will help her work across the Ba province.
What were your motivations in applying for this internship program?
To be an active and well-versed Fiji Red Cross Branch Administrator, I wanted to learn more about logistics and use information to support systems in other programs.
Having the experience of a secondary school teacher I also wanted to pass on knowledge on how to address and manage logistics cycle and tools to my fellow volunteers. This is one support service that we, volunteers, need to familiarise ourselves with to meet the requirements of the National Society and beyond.
Why are logistics preparedness activities important across the Pacific region?
Collecting information across all logistical avenues allows for better planning in case we need to respond to a disaster. Logistics preparedness is important to know our options and limits, plan efficiently and make the right decisions for any specific challenges that may arise
Logistics development intern, Vani, is at Nuku'alofa ferry termincal in Tonga as part of a simulation exercise during the Polynesia sub-regional workshop.
How will you use the knowledge acquired throughout this internship when you return to Ba?
I hope to share the knowledge I have to support logistics department across all branches at different trainings and workshops. I would also like to visit different storage sites to apply my newly-acquired storage management skills into practice and strengthen the work of the logistics volunteers.
What’s your biggest takeaway from this internship?
Having the right things at the right time at the right place. Keeping in mind the right quantity, right quality and the right price.
Find about more about Pacific Logistics Cluster preparedness activities here.