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The luxury of choice is not available when a humanitarian crisis occurs. A disease or natural disaster does not decide to create havoc in a developed country where people have access to clean water and medicine. War is not often planned to be carried out where only the military is impacted and the civilians are kept safe and far from harm.

When these events happen humanitarian aid and Humanitarian Logisticians needs to be on the ground fast, assisting both beneficiaries and the relief organisations supporting them. They help to set up the infrastructure to get aid to the nether regions of the developing world and ensure that everything runs smoothly throughout the lifecycle of a programme.

Humanitarian logistics is the lifeblood of any operation that gets the necessary people, services and goods to the right place, at the right time. When faced with the challenges of international customs, limited local infrastructure, humanitarian strife, and demands to return maximum value on each donation, it becomes quite complex. Professor Nagurney from the University of Massachusetts states it well by saying, “Logistics networks, in times of crisis, provide the essential infrastructure for the movement of both goods and services”

While humanitarian aid has provided help to stricken areas and developing nations for many years, the conditions that create this need (e.g. religious and political unrest, natural disaster, etc.) have been occurring with increasing regularity. Getting materials such as clothes, food, medicine and other basic supplies as well as the service providers such as medical workers, relief workers, and other people with critical areas of expertise to effected areas has become more frequent and more complex.

Addressing the shortfall of female Logisticians

Logisticians within humanitarian response are overwhelmingly male. The skills and abilities of men are significant and critical. However we need to teach, network with and mentor both men and women to understand and value unique contributions to humanitarian situations. Aid organisations combining elements of social work and health care typically have a largely female workforce; yet even in organisations with over 90 percent females, the logisticians are typically male (e.g. MeĀ“decins Sans Frontieres).

Find out more from our Women & Logistics article.

About the Author

  • About Melanie Miller: Melanie Miller is a Manager in Accenture's Supply Chain Management Practice. Melanie has led multiple engagements for Humanitarian organisations, Professional Services clients as well as chemicals and utility clients. The primary focus of these engagements was improving the Supply Chain function through diagnostics, procurement technology implementation, supplier management, logistics strategy, strategic sourcing, and contract management. These engagements covered all phases of the project, from diagnostic through implementation.

Melanie Miller

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