‘‘We grow as a team and we get things done’’
The air is dry in Bloemfontein. Gusts of sand whirl with the wind, dancing across the open landscape in the South African bush. Tent doors fly open, as meeting minutes, Service Request forms, and other key documents are swept up with the breeze.
In a crowded tent, Carmen Jose remains calm in front of her laptop. Surrounded by the sound of a generator, a ringing phone, and a flurry of activity, she is in the midst of the cluster’s Logistics Response Team training. It’s day 2 and the pressure is high.
"I’ve learned that, when it comes to field of humanitarian aid, with good cooperation, willingness, and team work, anything is possible."
How did Carmen find herself in Bloemfontein? That’s a story which begins in March.
On 14 March Cyclone Idai hit off the east coast of Africa, causing widespread damage across Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Just six weeks later Cyclone Kenneth struck – the strongest cyclone to ever hit the African continent - causing further devastation in Mozambique’s north. As response shifted to early recovery across the region, responders from the area expressed a desire to take on the lessons learned, exchanging experiences and best practices to be better prepared for the future.
This is how the first regional Logistics Response Team Training for the southern African region was born, with the aim to empower national and local actors, by placing them at the centre of the region’s humanitarian network.
18 participants, from 8 organisations, across 5 countries, training together, to respond together.
It was during the Cyclone Idai response that Carmen was first exposed to the humanitarian world, sparking an interest to better understand the sector’s language. In her day-to-day life she is the Commercial Country Manager of Safmarine in Maputo – Company part of Maersk Group since 2015. During the Cyclone Idai response, she was among the frontliners.
"In the private sector we need to manage time and information with care, but it’s not the same as the humanitarian sector. The big difference is that in the humanitarian world any decision you make can literally cost lives. You need to be extra cautious with time by being smart and fast to put things together. On information management the challenge was to not only share data with the right people, but making sure that it is updated, relevant and accurate to facilitate all the work of the partners on the ground with us."
Maersk, along with UPS, Agility and DP World form part of the Logistics Emergency Team (LET) created at the World Economic Forum in 2006. This initiative is one of the first multilateral public-private partnerships to support the humanitarian community after large-scale natural disasters by providing pro bono logistics expertise, human resources and in-kind services often in the form of logistics assets.
At the end of the training we catch up with Carmen once again.
"Be ready for something intense, overwhelming and rewarding all at once. Would I recommend it? Would I do it over again? 110% - yes."
Find out more about the Logistics Cluster training programme.