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Logistics Support Unit

The LSU is involved in logistics coordination through close interaction with the UNJLC, and contributes to inter-agency discussions related to logistical aspects (other than military) of emergency relief. As OCHA’s focal point for suppliers, it provides logistical support to the field and headquarters, particularly on transport issues.

LSU is also responsible for the timely mobilization and delivery of emergency relief goods, among other items, through the management and immediate dispatch of OCHA stocks of basic non-food, non-medical relief items held at the Humanitarian Response Depot in Brindisi, Italy.While these stocks are not designed to provide relief in all situations, they can, thanks to the support of the governments of Italy, Norway and Luxembourg, contribute to filling gaps in emergency assistance.

Key objectives

  • Strengthen coordination in inter-agency logistical efforts
  • Manage and replenish the OCHA stockpile of basic relief items in the UNHRD, and provide support to interested governments for the dispatch of appropriate items to disaster-affected countries in a timely manner
  • Achieve progress in the areas of shelter guidelines, enhanced customs facilitation and logistical support to the field and headquarters

Activities

In 2005, LSU planned and arranged for 10 emergency relief shipments from the UNHRD to five countries in Africa and Asia (the latter mostly related to the Indian Ocean tsunami and South Asia earthquake), in response to natural disasters and complex emergencies. Shipments grossed 256mt, roughly in line with 2003 and 2004 levels. A more detailed report on this activity is available in electronic format on OCHA online, or in hard copy on request to lsu@un.org.

Thanks to an Italian contribution for 2004/2005 and pre-established commercial contracts, the unit procured emergency relief items to a value of some US$ 1.8 million in 2005. It also obtained goods in kind from Norway to a value of some US$ 850,000.

In light of OCHA’s coordination efforts for the tsunami relief, LSU was tasked, in early 2005, with issuing Logistics Bottlenecks Reports summarizing and analysing most crucial information available. Approximately 30 such reports were issued between January and May. This arrangement was repeated in large-scale emergencies throughout the year, notably during the responses to the Nias earthquake in Indonesia in April and the South Asia earthquake in October.

LSU’s Logistics Bottlenecks Reports issued between January and March during the tsunami response, and limited at first to internal use, were later disseminated and found useful for logistics coordination on a much wider, external basis. During the response to the South Asia earthquake later in the year, an innovative joint reporting mechanism was put in place with UNJLC by which joint OCHA/UNJLC Logistics Bottlenecks Reports were posted on the UNJLC website as well as on ReliefWeb. After initial questioning by readers about the difference between the OCHA/UNJLC Logistics Bottlenecks Reports and the already existing UNJLC Bulletins, it was made clear that the role of the first was to reflect the situation at a given moment, in order to facilitate immediate decision-making, while the aim of the second type was to reflect a much broader, analytical view of the logistics situation.

LSU also took part, as OCHA focal point, in both the Logistics and Emergency Shelter Cluster Working Groups. After the Humanitarian Response Review recommendation to “expand global mapping of relief stocks”, the Logistics cluster decided to use the Register of Emergency Stockpiles, managed by LSU, as a basis. LSU started to revise the Register in line with the parameters of the cluster, such as setting up a new classification, common to all users, for items in stock; inclusion of detailed data about stock levels; revision and update of contact points; and possible inclusion (in cooperation with UNJLC) of a mapping tool.

LSU continued to disseminate, as widely as possible, its November 2004 booklet on Tents – A Guide to the Use and Logistics of Family Tents in Humanitarian Relief. Some 200 copies were circulated to relief partners in Pakistan during the earthquake response. LSU also won the support of a number of partners for the launch of a revised version of the 1982 UNDRO publication, Shelter after Disaster – Guidelines for Assistance. Despite its age, this book remains a key reference source in natural disasters and its revision is overdue. As a first step, OCHA/LSU commissioned a study of major gaps in the material and evolutions during the last 20 years, which was started in November.

LSU was also instrumental in securing funding from EMERCOM for a multi-purpose, cargo passenger air complex to facilitate support to UNDAC field missions, and is in discussions with WFP on practical implementation.

The unit was very involved in discussions around partnerships with the private sector, in particular the donation of in-kind relief goods or logistics expertise. It participated in the establishment of online business guidelines, drafted project proposals, provided advice and information on a framework for discussions with potential partners, and acted as counterpart for the donation of vehicles by a private donor in response to the South Asia earthquake.

Given the size of the unit (just one professional and one general service post in 2005), LSU is heavily dependent on external actors and partners such as UNOG for the procurement of relief items, WFP for the dispatch arrangements from the Brindisi stocks, and UNJLC for the gathering and analysis of logistics information at field level.

Performance evaluation

A total of 10 relief shipments were organised from OCHA/UN Humanitarian Response Depot stocks, providing assistance to five countries affected by natural disasters or emergencies. A recent audit of OCHA’s relief operations in Sri Lanka showed that these relief items were distributed to beneficiaries in an adequate and timely manner. Given its limited capacity, LSU was not able to systematically follow up the dispatches at destination and report about the whereabouts of some of the consignments. The LSU still has some improvements to make in this area.

Some progress was achieved in 2005 in the areas of implementation of border crossing measures, guidelines for emergency shelter and logistical support to the field and headquarters.Work in these areas is ongoing with interested parties.

 


 

 

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