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Humanitarian logistics news: CILT HELP forum 11 Jan 2007

January 18th, 2007 | By: Martin Arrand

CILT(UK) launched the Humanitarian and Emergencies Logistics Professionals (HELP) Forum early last year with the aim of sharing best practice and developing the skills of those working in the humanitarian logistics field. (For more background see the HELP Forum page on the CILT’s website.)

My own involvement in this – motivated by a longstanding interest in development issues and encouraged by a personal network of professionals in that field – has been to promote the knowledge management aspects of the Forum’s mission. The first small step was the introduction of the HELP bulletin board, hosted on this site, to make coordination between meetings easier.

Logistics templates

The most recent meeting, 11 Jan 2007, showed the Forum starting to engage at a practical level in some of the elements of its mission. Sheona Grant, a student from University College Dublin, is working on a thesis covering the process of data gathering and assessment for logistics in humanitarian emergencies. One of the areas for improvement in for emergencies logistics is in the coordination and standardisation of this process – a common complaint of local officials is that they spend their time repeating the same information to a series of agencies and NGOs making very similar assessments.

The Forum gave some time to generating and exchanging ideas for a series of Logistics Templates – sets of standard questions about the situation, infrastructure, social/political/management structures, together with usual sources of information. I was lucky enough to work in a group with an impressive bredth and depth of experience. Some what I picked up is in the Resources section, below.

Professional register, and lessons from the field

Another idea that has a lot of potential – but which seems to be running up against a few practical problems – is that of a register of logistics professionals with humanitarian experience who may be drawn at short notice from their day jobs to respond to an emergency. HELP has a working group to progress this, and the update they gave indicates they are engaging fully with all the issues.

On the practical side, HELP has already facilitated the move of one young professional into such an arrangement. The feedback she gave was very positive: in particular, she pointed out the the existence of a CILT Forum – and the previous positive experience of Transaid for similar arrangements – made promoting the idea made her employer much easier.

As an aside, I was glad to see new members, and overall there was a healthy mix of people at different stages of their careers, and of representatives from humanitarian, private-sector, military and academic sectors.

Andrew McClintock’s presentation of lessons from the field provided and illuminating close to the session. I was particularly interested to hear about the relief operation he ran in Batticaloa in Sri Lanka following the asian tsunami – when I visited a friend in Sri Lanka in 1998 we had wanted to get up to Batti, but the security situation at the time made that too difficult on a short trip.


I tried to note down all of the organisations and websites that came up in discussion. Here’s a quick collation of what’s in my notebook. I’ll also post these on the bulletin board.


www.bioforce.asso.fr – French organisation offering training to relief workers, including logistics
www.fritzinstitute.org – based in the US, provides a Certification in Humanitarian Logistics programme
www.logisticslearningalliance.com – accredited by the CILT, provider of the Certificate in Humanitarian Logistics
www.redr.org – Mark Flannaghan gave a good assessment of RedR’s 3-day logistics course (gives a good grounding, but is classroom-based)


www.alertnet.org – Reuters news service for humanitarian emergencies
www.reliefweb.int – extensive, up-to-date news
www.globalhand.org – connects NGOs and private-sector organisations

Transnational bodies

www.unjlc.org – UN Joint Logistics Centre (lots of useful information, including an extensive Field Operations Manual that is available to download)
www.unhrn.org – UN Humanitarian Response Network

Other useful info

www.unjlc.org/acronyms has a great list of acronyms and jargon
www.mapaction.org provides mapping services to humanitarian relief agencies
www.aidworkers.net is a portal for aidworkers, with knowledge base and blogs from those in the field
www.reliefsource.org/foss/index.php/Main_Page is an interesting project to develop an open-source disaster management information system (including a large supply chain element)


Pingback from Supply Chain View » Certificate in Humanitarian Logistics: positive comments from candidates
Time 31 January 2007 at 5:14 pm

[…] In my report of the CILT HELP Forum I mentioned in passing the Certificate in Humanitarian Logistics. Yesterday the latest edition of CILTWorld dropped through my letterbox and I was delighted to see a 2-page spread on the qualification. […]