Natural disasters like the recent earthquake in Nepal highlight the importance of good logistics in the starkest terms. The success or failure of humanitarian logistics is a matter of life and death for those affected by natural disasters.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is just one example of many organisations working around the world to help in humanitarian relief efforts after disaster strikes. It is a non-profit organisation that forms the UN’s food assistance branch and it works to provide logistics services for the entire humanitarian community when a disaster strikes. The work the WFP and organisations like it do is crucial to the success of the international aid effort.
Fortunately the WFP has been making preparations for a disaster in Nepal for some time with an existing operation, allowing it to react quickly. So far the WFP has set up a humanitarian staging area (HSA) in Kathmandu International Airport as part of the Logistics Response Plan drafted in 2013, as a contingency plan in the event of a natural disaster. The HSA has been established to avoid congestion at the main entry points of affected areas and ease the flow of life-saving commodities, where large-scale relief activities are being undertaken.
The WFP also plans to set up a logistics hub in Birganj at one of the main road entry points at the border with India to forward relief to the affected areas of Nepal. Furthermore, hubs including temporary storage space will be made available to humanitarian organisations in three or more smaller logistics hubs to be set-up at strategic positions in Nepal, including Pokhara. These hubs will be placed at locations where the road infrastructure still allows larger trucks to pass and will support coordination and all services to the affected areas.
The organisations also plans to establish a logistics corridor from India should congestion limit operations at Kathmandu International Airport. This may include road transportation from Calcutta, India, and tactical airlift from Lucknow Airport in India to Birganj, from which onward transport into the affected areas such as Pokhara can be facilitated.
For the air transport effort the WFP plans to make one or more helicopters available for the movement of the most urgent humanitarian cargo to inaccessible and remote areas. Destinations and schedule will be based on need.
Finally the WFP plans to augment the transport capacity of the region by providing a dedicated truck fleet in Kathmandu for inter-agency cargo movement.
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