Delivering in a Moving World: KLU’s Contribution to the First World Humanitarian Summit

Professor Maria Besiou

Professor Maria Besiou and her research assistant Sara Guerrero-Garcia collaborated with Jean-Baptiste Lamarche (Action Against Hunger-ACF), Rebecca Vince (Plan International), Stephen Cahill (World Food Programme) and Sean Rafter (HELP Logistics, a program of the Kühne Foundation) on a paper that explains the importance of humanitarian supply chains and their challenges, and makes key recommendations on how to overcome them. They presented the paper, which was funded by HELP Logistics, at the World Humanitarian Summit held in Istanbul in May 2015.

The paper entitled “Delivering in a Moving World…looking to our supply chains to meet the increasing scale, cost and complexity of humanitarian needs” poses six questions and provides several recommendations for implementation based on humanitarian response case studies, including the Nepal earthquake response, the West Africa Ebola outbreak, and super typhoon Haiyan.  The questions and recommendations were drawn from interviews with nearly 40 practitioners conducted between February 2015 and April 2016, and through grey and academic literature.

The report urges the international community to shift the paradigm from separate humanitarian and development silos and to leverage and realign funds across humanitarian and development budgets. These recommendations are approaches to solving the problem of how the international community should invest to reduce the cost and increase the localization of humanitarian response.

On the subject of how the humanitarian organizations can ensure a seamless transition between in-kind and cash modalities, the paper has two recommendations: 1) providing support to local supply chains during both the preparedness and response phases when utilizing cash modalities and 2) maintaining in-kind supply chains in case humanitarian organizations must quickly transition to providing relief items to beneficiaries.

With regard to uninterrupted supply access to beneficiaries during complex emergencies, governments are the stakeholders with the highest political influence. The recommendations are to ensure that humanitarian supply chains are respected as neutral, that supply corridors are opened and protected, and ultimately, that conflicts cease. To achieve these aims, the organizations should work closely with governments prior to emergencies and sign agreements on the cooperation and facilitation of humanitarian work with them.

The paper also looks at the issue of how the humanitarian and private sectors can leverage and benefit from their inherent interdependencies to improve humanitarian outcomes. The humanitarian sector can achieve this goal by establishing long-term collaborations with the private sector for emergency preparedness and response activities on the local, regional, and international levels alongside national disaster management offices and other stakeholders.

Finally, the paper argues that local humanitarian networks should be strengthened to take on preparedness and response activities to complement international intervention. Humanitarian response should be “as local as possible and as international as necessary.” Moreover, the local and international humanitarian communities should be aligned on preparedness scenarios and collaborate on information management and strategic coordination. These recommendations aim to tackle the issues of how coordination can evolve with an increasing number of actors while maintaining humanitarian standards and effectiveness, and how the humanitarian sector can rationalize supply chains to meet expanding needs.