The power of partnerships

Collaboration in Cox's Bazar across 2019
10 December 2019

Cost calculation, intermodal transport management, customs, risk management, inventory forecast; logistics is a wide and complex area and humanitarian logisticians are always under pressure to make decisions on a myriad of topics.

Over the last several months, the Logistics Sector has been working to strengthen the diversity of perspectives by bringing together the humanitarian community, academia and commercial sector to feed logisticians with the needed expertise to make efficient decisions and unleash the full potential of partnering up beyond the limits of the humanitarian community.

“Working with a range of diverse actors means we’re able to obtain different perspectives and experiences needed to overcome shared challenges. Partnerships also help us overcome reoccurring gaps and challenges,” says Ashim Shrestha, the Logistics Sector training lead.

 

As 2019 rounds out, we reflect on how the potential of partnering up has led to a stronger humanitarian response in Bangladesh over the past year and project how the partnerships can go even further in 2020.

Private Sector

“Long lead times for customs clearance processes for humanitarian cargo has been an ongoing challenge for responders,” said Logistics Sector Coordinator, Otavio Costa. “To access complex, hard-to-source supplies, customs are typically the first burden logisticians have to deal with as they often depend on international markets. A question we wanted to address as the humanitarian community through such a complicated process more effectively? And so, we reached out to the private sector to help us answer this. 

In July this year, the Logistics Sector arranged the first-ever Customs Workshop for the Rohingya Response. Co-hosted by Logistics Emergency Team (LET) partners, Agility and UPS, the event rallied 35 participants from 21 organisations. The workshop was the first of its type in Cox’s Bazar and sought to address challenges and gaps faced by the humanitarian community when bringing in humanitarian cargo into Bangladesh by tapping into best practices to import/export goods in Bangladesh.

“With such a wide range of actors in the same room, the event provided a unique opportunity to share and build on the experiences of the LET partners, exploring the current gaps and shortcomings in customs processes,” said Ashim. “Engaging with local commercial actors enabled the organisations to see good practices in action so that they can deal with practical problems.”

Academia

“Partnerships between universities and humanitarian workers can generate knowledge and learning for both. Academics can disseminate the results of their research through training, as well as apply their knowledge to help humanitarian workers in solving real problems.”

 

That's Professor Irineu de Brito Jr. from the São Paulo State University and researcher from the Center of Innovation of Logistics System from University of São Paulo. On 4-5 September 2019, a training on Advanced Humanitarian Logistics was held in Cox’s Bazar, hosted by the Logistics Sector with support from the University of São Paulo’s Centre for Logistics System Innovation. The training was especially targeted to help senior logisticians to reflect on challenges that they face in daily operations by covering a wide scope of tools, focused on strategies to improve costs, transport, risk management and coordination, as well as strengthening ties between academic theory and practical implementation.

 

“I believe this training provided a good opportunity for us to learn new things that will broaden our thinking and approach in addressing our challenges within the humanitarian logistics context,” said Md. Ashikuzzaman, Senior Manager for Logistics from Action Against Hunger.

 

Health Logistics Inter-Sector Coordination

In 2019, the Logistics Sector started the Health Logistics Inter-Sector Coordination meeting co-led by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Here, all logistics focal points working in health came together to address and solve common problems faced in supply operations ranging from importing processes, cold chain, quality assessments, waste management etc. For example, one problem identified through the partnership with the Health Sector lead to the introduction of training in Quality Assessment of Medicine led by WHO.

 

Moving forward

The successful implementation of Logistics Sector activities in Cox’s Bazar relies on the strength of the humanitarian community coming together.  As we look towards 2020, the team will continue to link the humanitarian responders to enable technical expertise to flow into the response and further strengthen collaboration in a challenging operational environment to have synergy between different stakeholders and humanitarian community.

For more information on the Logistics Sector operation see here.