Getting the Right Relief to the Right People at the Right Time

Hundreds of millions are affected by disasters each year and the number is growing
The number of annual natural and man-made disasters has tripled since 1970. The strains on humanitarian organizations responding to emergencies, underlined in this year�s World Disaster�s report published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), showed that last year alone, 256 million people were reported affected by disasters, well above the decade�s annual average of 210 million.

What is humanitarian logistics?
Humanitarian logistics refers to the processes and systems involved in mobilizing people, resources, skills and knowledge to help vulnerable people affected by natural disasters and complex emergencies. It encompasses a range of activities, including procurement, transport, tracking, customs clearance, local transportation, warehousing and last mile delivery.

Why is humanitarian logistics important?
Logistics is central to disaster relief. It is about getting the right relief supplies to the people in need at the right time. It serves as a bridge between disaster preparedness and response, between procurement and distribution, and between headquarters and the field.

A re-enactment of IFRC�s mobilization for the 2001 Gujarat earthquake showed that the speed of the relief process increased 20-30% using Humanitarian Logistics Software.
The non-profit Fritz Institute has created Humanitarian Logistics Software, state-of-the-art web-based logistics software to automate the mobilization process and track supplies from donation to delivery in the field. Easy to use, it links emergency operations with logistics and finance to provide a comprehensive and timely view of the relief pipeline from a PC anywhere in the world.

Bringing best practices from the private sector to humanitarian emergencies
IFRC recognized that its logistics processes could be more efficient with 21st century technology to address the multiple simultaneous and complex humanitarian emergencies it serves. The partnership with Fritz Institute brings best practices from the commercial sector, along with its expertise and resources customized for the humanitarian relief delivery chain. This one example of the types of public-private partnerships that can contribute towards the growing needs of the humanitarian community.

Humanitarian Logistics Software provides up-to-the-minute information for more effective relief

  • Accelerates relief to beneficiaries with increased relief chain velocity.
  • Stretches relief dollars by allocating the right goods to the right place at the right time and relief staff time and delivery processes are efficient and freed up from repetitive research and tracking activities that have been done by hand and paper.
  • Increases transparency for donors so they know that their pledge was delivered to the disaster effort.
  • Enhances institutional memory in an area known for high staff turnover by enabling all functions of relief organizations to make decisions based on historical experience and ensure optimal performance.

In 2005, a total of 157 million people - 7 million more than in 2004 - required immediate assistance, were evacuated, injured, or lost their livelihoods.
Fritz Institute's special expertise is in the delivery of humanitarian assistance and it provides the leading edge in logistics for that chain of need. And this is indeed a vital role, because when disaster strikes, help that arrives too late is actually no help at all, and even a few hours can spell the difference between starvation and nourishment, destruction and survival.
- Madeleine K. Albright
Former US Secretary of State
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