Survey: COVID-19 is increasingly burdening humanitarian organizations

Humanitarian organizations are increasingly seeing their supply chains impacted by the COVID-19 crisis: changes in price levels, delivery delays for humanitarian supplies, as well as upstream and in-country movement difficulties are challenging aid workers and people in need worldwide. The initial findings from a first UN survey that involved KLU have now been substantiated.

A second online survey round was conducted to capture any changes from March to April 2020. “We need to examine the changes over time in order to get the big picture,” emphasizes Maria Besiou, a Professor of Humanitarian Logistics who conducted the analysis together with Mojtaba Salem, a PhD candidate and Head of Projects at RILOHA, KLU’s research group on Leadership and Operations in Humanitarian Aid.

Major findings include the following:

  • In April, the health sector observed price increases of over 10 percent and delivery delays of more than 30 days for products such as personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • There have been significant price increases for items related to COVID-19, as well as supply bottlenecks. Examples include personal protective equipment (PPE), blankets, masks, and medicines.
  • More than 90 percent of the upstream material movement from the point of sourcing to the point of entry in the country of destination has been negatively affected.
  • In-country material movement has been particularly negatively affected, from the point of entry to the point of usage or distribution, in Yemen, Iraq, South Sudan, Bangladesh and other countries.
  • Bootleg and very low-quality versions of products such as masks have increased on the market. Organizations generally show growing concerns over quality issues in procurement.
  • 80 percent of the respondents requested online logistics training to mitigate the challenges in connection with COVID-19.
  • Remote working has had a significant negative impact on the collaboration with suppliers, field colleagues, transport providers, and partners.

Nearly 80 organizations took part in the survey, reflecting a strong representation in the sectors health, water and sanitation, protection of individual rights, and food security.    

The survey was conducted by the Logistics Cluster (hosted by WFP) and supported by HELP Logistics, a program of the Kühne Foundation.

Corona Crisis: Analyses & Comments
This news is part of the Corona series of analyses and comments with KLU researchers regarding different aspects of the effects of the ongoing coronacrisis on our daily lifes, the economy, our way we work and more. Find all analyses and comments.

More information:

  • Results of the survey in April (PDF)
  • Results of the survey in March (PDF)
  • News on the first survey
  • All KLU information relating to the corona crisis can be found here – a collection of news, online events, analyses & comments, and expert contacts: