Two major logistics companies, UPS and TNT, have joined forces for a humanitarian cause by offering free warehousing facilities to the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depots (UNHRD), run by the World Food Programme in Ghana and Panama.
This follows discussions between major players in the Logistics and Transport industry (UPS, TNT and Agility) on common industry-wide support to humanitarian operations.
“This generous TNT-UPS contribution to the UNHRD network means that WFP and our partners are able to respond faster to urgent needs in all regions. The faster the response from these hubs, the more lives we’re able to save,” said Amer Daoudi, Associate Director of WFP’s Transport and Procurement Division.
The depots stock vital supplies such as high-energy biscuits, drugs and other rapid response equipment essential for emergency operations.
At the request of the Italian government, the HRD depot in Brindisi recently sent tents, blankets, kitchen sets, medicines, water supply systems and generators on two humanitarian flights to Bangladesh following the cyclone.
The UNHRDs are envisaged as state-of-the-art multi-faceted facilities which act as first response nodes as well as regional procurement, training, knowledge and solution centres for the humanitarian community's emergency response activities.
Since October 2006, WFP has been using TNT’s warehouse facilities at Accra’s Kotoka International Airport in Ghana.
UPS then followed in February 2007 by providing similar warehousing facilities at Panama’s Tocumen International Airport.
“When WFP opened the Humanitarian Response Depots in Ghana and Panama, our corporate partner, TNT, offered its hospitality for the initial facility in Accra - then brought UPS on board for the second, in Panama,” said Daoudi.
The Ghana and Panama hubs have already been pressed into active service; over the past 12 months, the Ghana facility expeditiously dispatched critical food and non-food items to life- saving humanitarian operations in the Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Chad and other countries south of the Sahara.
The Panama depot has seen its fair share of activity with the provision of much needed relief supplies to Peru and Bolivia in the aftermath of the earthquake in August, and to Nicaragua in response to Hurricane Felix.
WFP is establishing the UNHRD network in five strategic hubs; they are currently in Brindisi (Italy), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Panama City (Panama) and Accra (Ghana) with Subang (Malaysia) yet to be established.
The depots provide logistics and procurement services for the emergency response operations of all UN agencies, as well as international, governmental and non-governmental organisations.
“We are grateful to TNT and UPS for their support in 2007 and their continued commitment to assist WFP in 2008.
The premises offered by TNT in Accra and UPS in Panama are a concrete example of the continued close cooperation between the private sector and WFP to assist people in need,” said Daoudi.