‘Lack of logistics training’ led to tsunami relief errors

A “chronic shortage” of logistics training contributed to mistakes in aid agencies’ responses to the tsunami, including the sending of aid teams to the wrong locations, according to an investigation published this week.

The investigation was carried out by Humanitarian Emergency Logistics Professionals (Help), a joint working party of leading aid and government agencies brought together by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport in the UK. The report was published by Cranfield University.

It found that training and professional development in humanitarian logistics is “woefully inadequate”.

The report found that there are few logistics courses for British aid agencies. Those that do exist tend to be narrow and focused on the specific needs of the countries where they are delivered. NGOs have to adopt a ‘DIY’ approach to accessing information on humanitarian logistics, the report said.

To address the problem, Help is considering establishing an MSc course in humanitarian logistics and developing a ‘rapid response’ toolkit for training.

Geoff Newton, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and joint co-ordinator of Help, said the aim is to “create a momentum that evolves the framework for humanitarian logistics training in the long-term”.

Members of the institute include Oxfam, Unicef, Transaid, the International Red Cross and the Department for International Development.

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