Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Why The Logistics Project?

The Logistics Project was originally a working name for the concept it has now become.  We stuck with the name because it has that no frills “it does just what it says on the label” factor.  In 2003 I left the relative safety of a Royal Air Force career to “go and work in aid”.  I took me the best part of a year to get into the aid world during which I worked for a commercial freight forwarder moving Kylie Minogue's Love Kylie Lingerie range; a fact that the best man at my wedding is eternally grateful for as it allowed him to say I spent a year in Kylie’s knickers.  In September 2004 Itook my first aid job as a Logistician in Darfur…….oh my word this was not the slick well-oiled machine I had known from the military.  In fact at times the wheels barely stayed on the huge logistics juggernaut.  This wasn’t particularly the organisation I worked for but just a general attitude toward logistics that prevailed that anyone can do it…..so…… anyone did do it with varying degrees of success.  There were some great logistics operators in UNJLC but throughout my career  I have met computer programmers, veterinarians, MA development students, ambulance technicians, agriculture experts, mountaineers and pretty much every profession under the sun having a go at logistics.  I started putting together a plan of how it could all be done better particularly in emergencies.
At roughly the same time The Fritz Institute were writing a report on just how badly wrong the tsunami response had gone logistically.  It was scathing about the skill levels, logistical education levels and the disorganised concerted effort levels.  They came up with a number of solutions the most renowned one is the Certificate in Humanitarian Logistics. If you want to get into humanitarian logistics or are in humanitarian logistics and want a qualification I would recommend this course – it is not the be all and end all of being a good field loggie but it is a great start.

North Darfur:
 En route to ACWY meningitis mass vaccination in Saraf Omra

I spent the next six years throwing myself into and out of different logistics and operations jobs to see the problem from all angles.  I have responded to the Tsunami, Niger Food Crisis, Kashmir Quake and Haiti Earthquake and consulted on projects from ethical ethanol distribution West Africa to loading athletes at multi sports events in Qatar.  I have worked with air transport, shipping overland and inland waterways.  Over this time I not only got to understand logistics but aid and development programming and eventually ran a medium sized country office in Haiti, leading hospital, education, engineering and camp management teams.  Within in those six years there were a few mistakes and a lot of bruises to my plans on how to make things better.
2011 has been about knocking these plans into shape with the sharpest minds I can muster. 
Dr Tony Roach, former Professor at Oklahoma University and now International Strategy &Management Lecturer at University of Bath’s School of Management, John Leach, Director of Operations at Shelterbox, Jonathan Horsfall, a development worker with Revelation Life Uganda, Paul Nedoszytko, of 7 life languages, Ewan, an RAF Ops Support Wing Commander, Robert, an LSE economist  Ian, well renowned charity CEO.
The outcome is this:

The Logistics Project is registering as a Community Interest Company. We are starting the process of building a secure self sustaining agency by providing consultancy services to Aid & Development Agencies, Charities, Not for Profits and the Corporate Social Responsibility departments of companies looking to work in aid.  Being a CIC we don’t need to pay dividends to any shareholders or investors so all the money gets reinvested in the two activities The Logistics Project concept was built on the DRU and the GIMP (yes we know this is funny).
THE DRU
The Disaster Relief Unit deploys to disaster zones within 12 hours of the incident and starts to look at co-ordinate in the logistics efforts by filling the capability gaps in rapid onset disasters.  Often there is insufficient logistics capacity in country to absorb the huge surge of cargo that arrives post disaster.  The DRU is manned by specialist logisticians who have donated their time either free of charge or sponsored by their company.  They will be trained by The Logistics Project’s Humanitarian Leadership Training Academy (HuLTA) in how to apply their expertise to the humanitarian setting, how to survive in a disaster zone and how to co-ordinate with UN and NGO agencies.  The aim is to have a team in country to work with all aid agencies in solving problems of arrival, clearing, storage and distribution of aid materiel.

THE GIMP

UNJLC/WHO/UNDSS Joint Recce Pic Chinasi
"Mad Dog" in the foreground

The Geographic Information Management Project was borne of the work done in Kashmir by UNJLC.  Whilst large 4x4’s were struggling to map the country due to missing bridges and landslides and trying to trace roads by helicopter was too inaccurate it was found that two men (myself and “Mad Dog” Metcalfe) could quickly map the areas disrupted by earthquake damage by using mountain bikes and on foot with a few tactical helicopter pick-ups and drop-offs..  The GIMP seeks to engage mountain bikers, mountain marathon athletes and a limited amount of enduro riders to head out into the disaster zone with GPS equipment and track roads, note areas of damage and disruption to infrastructure and provide other vital data to GIS sections of UN agencies and mapping charities.  Although this work wouldn’t normally be the remit of logisticians an understanding of the road network is vital in creating a picture of the viable main supply routes and the challenges in reaching vulnerable disaster affected communities.  The GIMP will be manned by volunteers selected at special selection weekends and given training in how to operate in a disaster zone.

2 comments:

  1. Hello to Every One at Logistics Project

    My name is Uday , i am presently based in Pune, India . I have been working on and off on small assignment in Logistics in here in India in emergencies and peace time response. I have worked for RED R India, UNICEF, ACTED to name a few

    Looking forward to new challenging assignment and also interact members from the group

    Regards,
    uday

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  2. HI Uday,

    Please drop our info team a line info@thelogisticsproject.org.

    ReplyDelete