Droughts have plagued the Horn of Africa for decades. In 2011, East Africans experienced one of the worst in over sixty years, and millions lost their harvests and livestock. While droughts are not easy to predict, reoccurrences in the region are unfortunately inevitable. But what can be done? In response to future natural disasters, a new WFP project will help to aid the humanitarian response.
In collaboration with the Government of Djibouti, WFP will manage and set-up a Humanitarian Logistics Base (HLB). A ceremony on 23 June 2013 at the future site of the base officially launched the project. Situated near the port of Djibouti, it is a key entryway into the Horn of Africa.
Generously supported by the Government of Djibouti, the Government of Canada and the Government of Finland, the HLB will help the humanitarian community in reaching those in need –more quickly and efficiently.
WFP will set-up the new base on a 40,000 square meter plot of land made available by the Government of Djibouti. With the capacity to store 65,000 metric tons of food, 2,500 square meters of relief items, and 200 shipping containers, the HLB will be key in pre-positioning aid for WFP operations as well as those of humanitarian partners. About 40,000 metric tons of food will be stored as bulk commodities in silos. This will be a pioneering endeavour for WFP, and will require partnering with experienced silo builders and operators. In addition to an extensive storage compound, plans also include cost-savings benefits for WFP and humanitarian users such as customs and tax-free exemptions for all cargo being stored at the base.
WFP’s logistics team in Ethiopia explains that around four million metric tons of WFP commodities have passed through the Djibouti corridor in just three years, giving it an increasingly significant role in the transport of aid throughout the Horn of Africa. Food and relief items stored in the HLB will be able to travel by road to reach a large geographical area, including Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia, and by short sea voyages to Yemen and other ports.
With a project of this scale, capacity development is an important component. WFP foresees engaging with key institutions in Djibouti in an effort to develop the country’s logistics infrastructure. In 2013, WFP plans to assist the Government of Djibouti in training 60 truck drivers, 60 forklift drivers and 30 warehouse managers – all of whom will be involved in the daily operations and running of the base.
The hub is also being supported by the Caterpillar company. Caterpillar Inc., the world's leading manufacturer of construction equipment, has provided six forklifts and two generators to the project through its global partnership with WFP.
Initial construction works have begun and are expected to continue for the next 15 months, excluding building of the silos. This new project will allow WFP to better facilitate the movement of food assistance through the Horn of Africa – an area which accounts for about one quarter of the people that WFP helps worldwide.