Almost one year after the COVID-19 pandemic first reached South Sudan, its effects remain a critical challenge to humanitarian agencies delivering assistance. Logistics operations are notoriously challenging in a country affected by insecurity, poor road infrastructure and extreme rainy seasons that have led to floods. As part of its activities, the WFP-led Logistics Cluster works to build the skills and knowledge of humanitarian logisticians in-country to improve their ability to deal with the challenging operational context and improve the overall response.

Maintaining learning and a sense of community

In 2019,  the Logistics Cluster delivered 33 training sessions to 671 participants from 148 organisations across eight locations over the course of one year (related blog story: “Meet the trainers”). Once COVID-19 hit, face-to-face trainings were put on hold, with learning programmes shifting to virtual modules. Embracing this transition, 230 staff from 56 humanitarian organisations registered for and participated in online courses to continue their learning journeys. But the pandemic highlighted a demand and need for greater knowledge around medical logistics as agencies pivoted to respond to the latest challenge.

This is where HELP Logistics could assist. Partnering with the South Sudan Logistics Cluster, HELP Logistics launched an ambitious online course on Medical Logistics in Pandemics, with a special focus on the current COVID-19 response. As part of the training, participants completed a four-week self-paced online learning programme with bite-size modules of 10-15 minutes. The training concluded with a live online session featuring guest speakers from the South Sudan Ministry of East African Community Affairs, the private sector (Shippers’ Council), and representatives from the World Health Organization and MSF Holland to put learning into a local context. This turned the classic training approach into fun and achievable milestones that could be easily accessed during field missions or breaks from busy work schedules.

To-date, 159 participants have already successfully completed the three-module course, with a fourth module to be added shortly.

“We saw a demand from our partners who were eager to learn more to help them as they adjusted their responses to meet this new health dimension to the ongoing crisis here in South Sudan,” says Karolina Greda, Logistics Preparedness Officer for the Logistics Cluster in South Sudan. “We’ve always understood that our biggest role in providing training is utilizing our relationships with the private sector and academia to give our partners access to expert knowledge, and this training from HELP Logistics is a prime example of that.”

“HELP Logistics gratefully joins forces with the Logistics Cluster South Sudan to bring together our training product with the Cluster’s great network in the country,” says Jonas Stumpf, Director of Global Programs at ‎HELP Logistics. “We are particularly happy about the large numbers of aid and health workers successfully completing the course despite the difficult circumstances many of the participants have been facing in the last weeks.”

So what do the participants think about the training?

"I would definitely recommend this training to others. In the context of COVID-19, this training was so useful because many logisticians out there are really overwhelmed with arising challenges. The training helps understand the impact of the pandemic on medical supply chain and provides a clear way forward in terms of how organisations can plan business continuity and how any organisation should embrace localisation for sustainable development even amidst the pandemic.” Rose Poni, Tearfund

Rose Poni, participant from TearFund
Bona Makuch, participant from Health Pooled Fund

All the topics were incredibly valuable to me because they are aligned with my current area of work, including government policies and emergency preparedness.” Bona Makuch Deng, Health Pooled Fund

Mawadri Paul, participant from GOAL Ireland

"The most interesting session was on good distribution practices as this is directly linked to my work responsibilities, where my organisation receives consignments on quarterly basis, and I am responsible for last mile distribution to the various health facilities." Mawadri Paul, GOAL Ireland.

Ritah Gire, participant from Finn Church Aid

“The quizzes were so perfect and a very interesting way to do self-assessment. It was so exciting each time I would see "correct or right". The self-assessments opened up my brain and gave me the passion to listen carefully. Also, to learn more and more. The live sessions at the end of the course were very educative as the speakers had vast experience in the humanitarian sector.” Ritah Gire, Finn Church Aid


To learn more about the Logistics Cluster operation in South Sudan, visit our dedicated page.