Teaming up for Cyclone Idai

LET on the ground in Mozambique
09 April 2019
Damaged roads pose challenges for the delivery of life-saving items

When Tropical Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique, efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance to those in need were challenged by the storm’s massive impact on logistics infrastructure.

As the storm passed, continuous flooding only created further complications for responders on the ground, with normal transport routes impassable and affected communities cut off by road transport. There was a critical need for information on the hardest hit areas, populations impacted, and how to ensure the quick delivery of relief assistance.

Though the Logistics Cluster was activated on 20 March, preparedness measures were already taking place before the cyclone made landfall, with the cluster reaching out to partners with existing knowledge, experience and logistics capacity in Mozambique to ensure a quick and efficient response.

One such group of partners is the Logistics Emergency Team (LET).

Comprised of four of the largest global logistics and transportation companies - Agility, DP World, Maersk and UPS - the LET work together with the Logistics Cluster to support humanitarian crises across the world with information and infrastructure.

 

In the case of Cyclone Idai, information provided by the LET was crucial.

Understanding logistics capacity and bottlenecks in the height of a response

It was clear that logistics infrastructure across ports, storage, air and road had been hit hard by the cyclone, what was less known was to what extent.

As this information unfolded on the ground, LET partners assisted by providing up-to-date insight on infrastructure capacity and availability, access constraints and ocean transit times. The cluster was then able to share important details with partners on road conditions, vehicle tonnages and expected transportation times. 

Knowledge on infrastructure availability is especially critical in the initial weeks of a humanitarian response, when information is scarce but key in order to make informed decisions on how to best reach the people in need.

In the case of Cyclone Idai, this was even more important with Beira - a city which functions as a logistics hub and entryway for not only for Mozambique but for several countries in the region - completely cut-off by road.

Being able to access information on logistics capacity and bottlenecks such as road access constraints through the LET partnership has been crucial in the first phase of the response.

 

Addressing the lack of storage solutions

The LET partners have further supported the humanitarian response with storage solutions, lending out containers and moving them between the airport and port. This helped address the lack of storage available due to the destruction caused to existing warehouse space. If needed, reefers have also been available to support the humanitarian operations, for temperature-controlled of crucial relief items.

The LET partnership is one example of the importance of leveraging on existing capacities, knowledge and expertise of partners from all sectors to enable humanitarian relief. To learn more about the LET see here: https://logcluster.org/logistics-emergency-team

In this emergency response there has been an exceptional support from the Private Sector as a whole. This article outlines the specific support from the longstanding LET partnership, but other big private sector companies have been stepping in and supporting the Humanitarian Community along with the LET companies.