'Moving House' for a U.N. Peacekeeping Mission

Over 3,000 pieces of heavy equipment, containers and vehicles have been moved from Sudan to South Sudan, on behalf of two U.N. Mission -- the U.N. Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and South Sudan (UNMISS). The truck pictured here represents just one type of item that WFP has transported since July 2011. Copyright: WFP/Niels Olsen

The largest logistics service provision contract in WFP’s history is nearly complete. Over the course of nearly two years, WFP has helped to move over 3,000 pieces of heavy equipment, containers and vehicles for a large U.N. peacekeeping mission – an effort that has spanned four East African countries and crossed the waters of the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

On the global scale, WFP has seen the number of its humanitarian ‘customers’ grow from 15 in 2009 to 63 by the end of 2012. By providing services in overland transport, shipping, storage and handling, WFP is ensuring that humanitarian partners are able to not only deliver aid and relief to hundreds of thousands of those requiring assistance, but to ensure the continuous running of their operations.

As the biggest logistics service contract for WFP to date, it’s only natural that the operation is a complex one. Demanding the dedication of WFP staff from all over -- Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and Headquarters -- this huge effort has been referred to by staff as the ‘UNMIS(S) move’.

 At the request of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), WFP was asked to help the Mission relocate from Sudan to South Sudan following the closure of their offices in July 2011. With nearly 15,000 personnel, UNMIS was a vast operation in Sudan. In particular they were in need of assistance from WFP in moving their containers, vehicles, and heavy equipment such as forklifts and generators, from their logistics base in El-Obeid to South Sudan – nearly 3,300 pieces of equipment in total.

Using barge operations, WFP transported cargo via Kosti Port in Sudan on the River Nile, carrying it down into Malakal, Bor and Juba. Using an array of specialized trucks, onward transport was arranged to other locations by WFP logistics staff in South Sudan.

After the success of this movement, WFP received more requests to move additional equipment to the successor U.N. Mission in South Sudan – UNMISS. The second phase of UNMISS cargo movement was to begin in 2013, and entailed a new route to reach its destination -- requiring the coordination of several WFP Country Offices and close collaboration with the U.N. Department of Field Support (DFS), as the move was by sea via Port Sudan to Mombasa, and transported by road through Kenya and Uganda before reaching South Sudan.

A 1,500km journey from Kosti port meant that cargo was sent by road across the eastern half of the country to Port Sudan. Securing all cargo into shipping containers, it travelled on WFP-contracted ships around the Horn of Africa, and into the port in Mombasa, Kenya.

Up against a steep deadline, WFP staff worked vigorously to ensure that the first of two batches departed at the beginning of February, while the second movement followed a few weeks later– a total of 461 containers. Now, in mid-March, the first trucks unloaded from the ship have crossed into South Sudan. In the next few months, the UNMISS cargo will continue to make its way into the country.

This project has contributed to paving the way for WFP to provide potentially large and complex logistics services to the UN missions, filling gaps in transport, contracting and storage capacity among other needs, when and as requested. At the same time, WFP will continue to provide logistics services on a smaller scale to humanitarian agencies and partners.