When Disaster Strikes
Disaster can strike at any time. When it does, you need to address it immediately. You never know when it will occur or the extent of the damage will be. As a result, it’s hard to be ready. Countries and global organizations work together to help those left vulnerable. Often, this planning is the deciding factor in the ability to handle a crisis. As Alessandra Cozzolino points out, “Logistics is the most important element in any disaster relief effort… [and] makes the difference between a successful and a failed operation.”
What exactly counts as a disaster? The term can refer to a variety of incidents, ranging from earthquakes to political crises. Each situation requires a different level of logistics efforts. This depends on the cause of the disaster and the predictability and speed at which it occurs. Disasters are becoming more and more relevant in today’s society. Ever since the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 came with record breaking relief efforts, there has been an increased awareness and interest in humanitarian logistics.
There are three main areas in which logisticians work to build relief efforts. Before a disaster occurs, they work to construct a plan. When it occurs, they respond to immediate needs. Finally, in the aftermath they work to restore the affected area. It may not come as a surprise to see that the most important (and most difficult) stage is the planning. This is when they establish a network of supporters and resources for use in the event of a disaster. Without these connections, it would not be possible to achieve a level of response to our fullest capacity.
The logistics of disaster relief are surprisingly complex. But, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network. Their reach is over 150 million people in 189 National Societies. That’s a lot of coordination. Their vast network of 13 million allows them to tackle issues in four main areas. Disaster response, disaster preparedness, health and community care, and promoting values of social inclusion and peace.
To take on their tasks, IFRC utilizes outside providers. Global Logistics Service (GLS), is IFRC’s logistics provider. They have been recognized for supply chain excellence. GLS has a global network and the flexibility to respond to an array of disasters in many locations. They use this network to help areas of need in an efficient and cost effective manner. GLS recognizes the importance of having an action plan in place. Otherwise, they would not be able to efficiently and effectively respond to any disaster scenario.
It’s not a secret that most of us don’t have to respond to disasters at the drop of a hat. However, lessons from humanitarian logistics are still very relevant to any supply chain. Being prepared for the unpredictable and having a risk mitigation strategy is critical.