A word from our Global Logistics Coordinator

Athalie Mayo's message on COVID-19
18 August 2020
Photo: Logistics Cluster

The current operation in Lebanon reminds us that, despite the considerable challenges of COVID-19, we must continue to find effective ways to respond to sudden onset emergencies as well as the existing protracted crises. As we celebrate World Humanitarian Day today we honour humanitarians working to provide life-saving support to those most in need and thank our partners, colleagues and donors for their incredible work in these extraordinary times. Our thoughts are particularly with those responders in the field that find themselves in the eye of the COVID-19 storm.  It is remarkable how operational continuity has been maintained thanks to the tremendous efforts of those involved and how new ways of working have been developed thanks to everyone’s collaboration and flexibility. Dr Tedros recently described the COVID-19 pandemic as a “once in a century health crisis”. Despite the terrible impact of the pandemic, it can only be hoped that we are able to draw some positive lessons and practises from the unprecedented situation we are facing today.

 

As we celebrate World Humanitarian Day today we honour humanitarians working to provide life-saving support to those most in need and thank our partners, colleagues and donors for their incredible work in these extraordinary times.

 

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt around the globe we are far from a final review of the response. At country level our colleagues continue to work relentlessly to support partners on the ground.  From the Global Logistics Cluster (GLC) Support Team we have tried to constantly review and fine-tune both our support to field operations and the global activities. While the global response to the pandemic has taken us into unchartered territories, there has been a clear need to facilitate information management, coordination, capacity strengthening and preparedness. As you will read in this newsletter, delivering on these core Logistics Cluster functions has been adapted to the needs of the COVID-19 working environment. In a rather unusual role reversal the GLC Support Team, many of whom are based in Rome, were “early adopters” of enhanced remote working modalities as the virus hit Italy earlier this year. The team worked incredibly hard to support the response while themselves facing a wide range of personal and professional challenges. This experience helped prepare us to better shape some of the global activities such as the dedicated remote support to country teams, new online training courses, no-regrets deployments, and adaptation of preparedness activities.

Since the onset of the crisis, the Logistics Cluster Strategic Advisory Group has been extremely generous with their time and advice as we sought to readjust our activities to best respond to unmet needs.  We have tried to be as flexible as possible with our support to the various structures and systems as they evolved and took shape over recent months. Access to information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on international supply chain capacity and on the availability of services for the humanitarian community has been one of the key partner needs. The inputs from our private sector partners have been absolutely invaluable in this respect and provided decisive and timely insights. This has been further complemented by analytical support from academic and humanitarian partners.  As the crisis continues we shall seek to align the approach in accordance to partners’ feedback and operational requirements.

 

Thanks again to everyone for their unstinting collaboration, support and immensely hard work in these difficult times.



On the 15th anniversary of the Cluster Approach, I hope that the Logistics Cluster will draw lessons from the year’s events to adapt where necessary and ensure its ongoing relevance to the humanitarian community. The terrible impact of COVID-19 may in some ways catalyse efforts to review our scope of activities as well as drive us even harder to achieve some of the previously stated goals of sustainable logistics, capacity strengthening and localisation. One issue that the response has highlighted for me personally has been the broad scope of portfolios that many of our partners handle. Recent calls and discussions have underscored the fact that for many partners “logistics” covers a varying range of operational activities from transport and storage of relief items to procurement and life support. This may be a topic to explore further at the next global meeting.

Thanks again to everyone for their unstinting collaboration, support and immensely hard work in these difficult times. While the road ahead is still uncertain, October’s first online global meeting will be a great opportunity for partners to come together and work on the shared approach to our activities. This new online format will allow for a greater participation and I really look forward to this chance for productive exchanges and discussions.

Best regards,

Athalie Mayo
Global Logistics Cluster Coordinator

To learn more about the Logistics Cluster’s work visit our website.