Humanitarian Logistics: Efficient Solutions for Fast and Reliable Aid

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Well organized supply chain solutions are essential for overcoming the hurdles of humanitarian logistics and getting urgently needed supplies to people in emergencies.

Logistics solutions are always important;every day they ensure that global economics function efficiently and that companies and individuals can ship and receive the goods and commodities they need. However, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which hampered the flow of goods and materials around the world, has shown just how important supply chains are in times of crisis. Also, in the case of natural disasters, the importance of well-functioning supply chains cannot be underestimated. This is where humanitarian logistics comes into play. As stated by the European Commission, humanitarian logistics is broadly defined as “the processes and systems involved in mobilizing people, resources, skills and knowledge to help vulnerable people affected by natural disasters and complex emergencies”.

Humanitarian logistics is becoming a highly important topic, partly because of today’s challenges with regards to climate change. According to the UN, catastrophes related to climate change have multiplied drastically over the last 50 years. Additionally, among all catastrophic events, droughts seem to result in the highest number of fatalities during the specified time frame, followed by storms, floods, and extreme temperatures.

Logistics under pressure

Whether international disasters relate to climate change or other crises, logistics experts have to make sure that relief supplies reach the place or region of emergency quickly and reliably. When Turkey for example was hit by two devastating earthquakes in February 2023, a sophisticated logistics chain had to be established to transport relief supplies to the affected areas.

There are, however, numerous hurdles that aid organizations and other stakeholders face. Firstly, transport of supplies has to be carried out quickly, under extreme time pressure. Yet, immediately after a disaster it is often unclear how accessible the affected areas are. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes but also military conflicts can cause significant infrastructure damage, affecting aid deliveries. Furthermore, certain relief supplies require highly specialized transport and storage conditions. In addition, the importation of aid and donation of goods often involves highly complex bureaucratic procedures.

Advancing humanitarian logistics

The power of modern logistics can be leveraged to fight these challenges. This was recognized inter alia in the 1990s by U.S. entrepreneur Lynn C. Fritz, who is considered the father of humanitarian logistics. Fritz made it his mission to advance the procedures and practices of commercial logistics so that they could be used for humanitarian purposes. In 2001, Fritz sold his company, the Fritz Company, to UPS to focus entirely on humanitarian logistics.

At Coyote Logistics, we are a UPS Company, part of UPS Supply Chain Solutions. Similar to Lynn C. Fritz, we are strongly dedicated to advancing humanitarian logistics. By leveraging our expertise and network, we strive to further optimize supply chains to assist people in crisis and emergency situations worldwide.