Amplifying supply chain excellence in theory and practice for the benefit of humanity
After many years of successful project collaborations, KLU and HELP Logistics have decided to put their relationship to the next level and established a joint Center for Humanitarian Logistics and Regional Development (CHORD).
CHORD aims at bringing together the best of two worlds by combining top-class academic research and education with operational training and consulting excellence. The Center is backed up by extensive outreach and field presence through 4 regional HELP offices and forms a unique offering in the humanitarian and development context.
As a thought-leading hub, CHORD is delivering innovative logistics and supply chain solutions validated by rigorous research methods to improve social and economic progress in developing countries.
CHORD is offering a broad variety of applied research and education services to its partners across different sectors.
The focus of CHORD’s work is on analysing and strengthening supply chains in the context of disaster preparedness and resilience, food and agriculture, pharma and health as well as sustainability.
CHORD undertakes clearly specified research and education projects that generate and transfer new innovative findings to deliver long-term and sustainable impact.
CHORD equips leaders and senior managers in the humanitarian space with an extensive skill and tool set provided by experts with commercial and humanitarian experience combined with the best academic knowledge this field has to offer.
Project: Executive Supply Chain Management in the Humanitarian Context (ESM)
The growing interconnectedness in today’s world combined with accelerating change processes have created a dynamic and complex environment which places immense demands on organizations operating in the humanitarian space. In this context, supply chain management is increasingly recognized as critical success factor for short term aid deliveries as well as long term development programs.
CHORD has established a 4-day executive program for leaders and senior managers of humanitarian organizations and government agencies. The course builds competency and knowledge to tap into the enormous potential that supply chains offer to organizations and the entire sector to ultimately do more with less.
Participants are challenged to think strategically and out of the box across sectors and in different operational contexts. By the end of this program participants are equipped with an extensive skill and tool set provided by experts with commercial and humanitarian experience combined with the best academic knowledge this field has to offer.
The ESM is offered at KLU in Hamburg as well as in the regions (Asia, Middle East, East Africa and West Africa) in close collaboration with local universities.
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Every year, CHORD offers and supports internships to students from around the world to build and shape the next generation of humanitarian logisticians. As part of their BSc, MSc and PhD programs, the KLU offers lectures, student projects and theses in the field of humanitarian logistics. CHORD puts special focus on the development of local talents and collaborates closely with partner universities in the regions.
Project: Internship with IFRC and HELP Logistics
Interview with Nimisha Gopakumar on the internship she undertook with HELP Logistics and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
Nimisha, what was your motivation for applying for this internship?
One experience among the many I've had after joining KLU was my introduction to Humanitarian Logistics. In contrast to my main interests, I happened to take up Humanitarian Logistics course as my elective and ever since, I have been completely hooked on to this sector. Prof. Besiou's class had interactive sessions, working groups and lectures which further broadened my knowledge and exposed my understanding to various challenges that are constantly faced throughout the sector. This was when my interest grew to explore the humanitarian sector and to understand how existing challenges can be solved. I realised at that stage that I wanted to pursue an internship in the humanitarian sector.
What were your responsibilities within the project?
My internship involved conducting a Return on Investment Study as well as an Analysis of Supply Chain expenditure in various emergency relief response activities performed by IFRC and supported by HELP Logistics. My responsibilities involved the collection of data related to the study and analysing the same to arrive at the final conclusions being 1) Supply chain expenditure contributes to 60-80% of total project expenditure and 2) Early preparedness in relief activities helps in reducing cost and lead time thereby resulting in a saving of $7 for every investment of $1 in preparedness.
What did your typical work day look like?
My typical work day began with the collection of information relevant to our study. In order to be well versed with the information collected, I had two weeks of briefing sessions with colleagues working in different departments of the IFRC. Since our study involved a huge amount of data collection, I was also responsible for scrutinising the data in order to extract only what was necessary for our study. Moreover, being provided with so much data also helped me to widen my knowledge about the organisation and the various activities IFRC is involved in around the globe.
Tell us about some of experiences you had during the internship.
I must agree that this is one of the best internships I've done. I had a great working environment and an amazing team who was always willing to help and always made time to patiently explain the concepts I was new to. I also got the opportunity to meet delegates from the regional offices of IFRC who would also share information and provide more insight about humanitarian logistics.
Honestly, I did not find anything negative as this was a fantastic learning experience for me and all of the circumstances were useful opportunities. Maybe one negative aspect of this sector is that finding a job can be very challenging. Networking is key and the level of growth is also not very promising for budding talents. The other negative feature is the lack of economic stability as this sector may not be as high paying as private enterprises are.
What was the level of integration within the team?
I am beyond happy to say that my level of integration with the team was a solid 100% because I was treated like a fellow staff rather than a normal intern. The organisational culture followed at IFRC was also quite informal which meant that everyone had the equal opportunity to personally communicate with one another within the organisation.
The IFRC staff seemed very welcoming and helped me a lot especially during my first week until I got used to my work space.
What support was received from the internship supervisor?
In this internship, I had two supervisors, one from HELP Logistics and the other from IFRC. Both my supervisors were equally supportive and were very patient with my work. My supervisor from HELP Logistics was always responsive to my emails and questions. My supervisor at IFRC was one of the best supervisors I've had. He was so motivated and always lent a helping hand whenever I needed it. He was also my major source of information as well as for networking.
What value has the internship had to your professional / personal development?
Certainly, I believe this was a brilliant start to a new career path that I am seeking to follow. There was so much learning in the internship both academic and non academic, which has prepared me to find opportunities and best reflects where my competence would be most valuable. Adding to that, this internship also made me find more like-minded people who seemed to be on the same career path I was and of course, they helped me shape my view towards the humanitarian sector as well.
Can you give some general advice for making this internship experience valuable?
The best way to make your experience count is to fully understand the value of your internship and understand how your efforts will be helping the company to improve. Staying motivated and passionate about one's work is the best way to have the best experience as with all other things.
Thank you very much Nimisha for this interview!
After her graduation at KLU Nimisha started working as a supply chain consultant for HELP Logistics in the Philippines. Today, she works as a Shelter/NFI and Logistics Officer at IOM, the UN Migration Agency.
Building responsive and resilient supply chains is critical for delivering life-saving assistance and minimizing economic setbacks to commerce and communities. CHORD has developed several simulation models to better understand the behavior of complex supply chain systems in the humanitarian and development context. The simulations applied in real world scenarios reveal critical supply bottlenecks, identify fields of improvements and measure the expected impact of investment activities. The results serve as a baseline for strong investment business cases and have facilitated discussions between donors, humanitarian agencies and governments.
Project: Preparedness Investment and Impact Measurement
Since 2016, we have been researching the impact of preparedness investments in the humanitarian supply chain. In a first step we ran an extensive supply chain expenditure study with five humanitarian organizations on 23 emergency operations around the world. Through this study we found that the supply chain is indeed the backbone of humanitarian operations. However, humanitarian actors are facing challenges in building and strengthening capacity in their supply chains. In a second study, we built a system dynamics model that simulates and measures the impact of preparedness investments in terms of cost and delivery time saved as well as local social impact generated.
The findings helped to increase the awareness in the community on the relevance of supply chain management and convinced donors to provide more funding for preparedness efforts. The impact of such investments is currently measured with partners in the Philippines and Madagascar.
Project partners: Action Contre la Faim (ACF), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UNICEF and Save the Children International
For further information, please reach out to: Timna.Eckschmidt@the-klu.org
Project: Strengthening Resilience in Health Supply Chains
The threat of epidemic outbreaks is putting public healthcare supply chains under stress. Supply chain disruptions negatively impact the availability of and access to essential medicines and primary healthcare services. Since beginning of 2021, CHORD is collaborating with the World Food Programme on a project to analyze and strengthen public healthcare supply chains. The team is using system dynamics to analyze the health supply chain system’s resilience to epidemic outbreaks and to find leverage points for preparedness investments to ultimately ensure the functioning of healthcare during health outbreaks. The model is built on the basis of two system dynamics models on supply chain resilience and preparedness that have been built by CHORD in prior projects. It will be implemented in various countries to support strategic and operational decision-making.
Project partner: World Food Programme (WFP)
For further information, please reach out to: Timna.Eckschmidt@the-klu.org
Actors operating in the humanitarian space have to play an active role in fighting climate change and reducing their CO2 footprint. CHORD collaborates closely with KLU’s Center for Sustainable Logistics and Supply Chains (CSLS) to support its partners in their efforts in greening the humanitarian supply chain.
Project: MSF Climate Smart Project - Emission mapping of MSF’s global freight transportation to increase sustainability
CHORD supports MSF’s Climate Smart project that aims at decreasing the organization’s negative environmental impacts without compromising on the effectiveness of its aid programs. The project team works on different approaches to understand and highlight the harm for the environment caused by the operations. One concrete project deliverable is an interactive dashboard that maps and visualizes greenhouse gas emissions caused by global freight transportation. The dashboard helps to identify potential improvement areas and crucial points to reduce emissions. The improved visibility helped to increase the awareness for sustainable actions in the organization. The dashboard is used as a basis for discussion with stakeholders on mitigation actions and to set targets to enhance the sustainability of MSF’s supply chain.
Project partners: MSF Climate Smart, MSF Operational Center Geneva, HELP Logistics
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Achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is a Sustainable Development Goal. With many different stakeholders, regulations and specific handling requirements, health supply chains are dynamic and complex systems that face a myriad of challenges. In case of a pandemic such as COVID-19 further complexities and challenges are likely to occur.
CHORD studies the impact of COVID-19 on health supply chains and offers online trainings to humanitarian and health staff to make sure essential medicines reach the patients at the right time, at the right condition and at the right price.
Project: COVID19 Survey
The Global Logistics Cluster (GLC) and CHORD performed three global surveys to understand the dynamic impact of the pandemic on humanitarian supply chains. 150 survey responses from 40 different humanitarian actors around the globe were received. The analysis provided insights into the patterns of problems, such as changes in price levels, delivery delays of humanitarian supplies, as well as upstream and in-country cargo transport challenges. 80% of the respondents indicated a need for access to online trainings to rapidly build-up medical logistics capacity.
Project partner: Global Logistics Cluster (GLC)
“The surveys performed together with HELP Logistics and the KLU were great examples of where swift and applicable academic work contributes to fast-moving humanitarian operational decision-making.” Bruno Vandemeulebroecke Deputy Coordinator, Global Logistics Cluster
Project: Medical Logistics in Pandemics (MLP) Training
A major root cause for inefficiencies, losses and waste in medical supply chains is simply insufficient knowledge. The MLP training aims to equip aid workers and health staff with the most essential logistics and supply chain knowledge in the context of medical operations. Special focus is put the current response to COVID-19 making sure that the right product and service reaches the patients at the right time, at the right condition and at the right price. The course is a fully blended learning experience that includes self-studying online lectures, challenging quizzes as well as interactive live sessions in a virtual classroom environment.
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“For UNFPA this training has really big impact that we can already see on the ground. We have plans to scale it up significantly in the near future” - Ms. Dani Jurman Humanitarian Supplies Analyst, The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
In view of the ever growing funding gap, humanitarian actors are asked to find new and different ways of operating to make their work more effective and efficient. Joining forces in the supply chain is expected to bear tremendous potential to provide more assistance with less ressources. CHORD studies coordination and collaboration efforts between humanitarian organizations as well as across sectors at international and local level.
Project: Orchestrating Coordination among Humanitarian Organizations
The study ”Orchestrating coordination among humanitarian organizations”(a joint project with Ruesch, L., Tarakci, M., Besiou, M., and Van Quaquebke, N.) investigates coordination in United Nations’ cluster meetings. In cluster meetings humanitarian organizations meet to exchange resources. Yet, coordination failures in prior disasters led by the clusters raise questions as to the effectiveness of the cluster approach in coordinating relief efforts. To better understand barriers to coordination, we conducted 21 expert interviews and built an agent-based simulation.
Our theory discerns a cluster lead’s roles of facilitating coordination but also investing in its own ground operations. We find that specifically serving such a dual role impairs trust and consequent coordination among cluster members. The additional simulation findings generalize the detrimental effect of the cluster lead’s dual role versus a pure facilitator role and specifies it against various boundary conditions.
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The humanitarian logistics sector provides a world of opportunities for meaningful and impactful research. CHORD aims at supporting and shaping the research agenda by delivering top class publication outputs
Prof. Dr. Maria Besiou
Professor of Humanitarian Logistics and Academic Director
Dr. Jonas Stumpf
Prof. Dr. Andreas Kilian Gernert
Assistant Professor for Sustainable Operations
Sarah Joseph, PhD
Dr. Mojtaba Salem
Daan van Beek
Prof. Dr. Hanno Friedrich
Associate Professor of Freight Transportation - Modelling and Policy
Prof. Dr. Niels Van Quaquebeke
Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior & Head of Department of Leadership and Management
Prof. Dr. Moritz Petersen
Assistant Professor of Sustainable Supply Chain Practice, Co-Director Center for Sustainable Logistics and Supply Chains
Prof. Dr. Sandra Transchel
Professor for Supply Chain and Operations Management
Prof. Marcos Ritel, PhD
Assistant Professor for International Trade
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