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Humanitarian Logistics in times of pandemic

The current pandemic caused by COVID-19 has had a great impact on different industries worldwide, and logistics is no exception; moreover, it continues to be affected by the changes that the virus has caused, which are often radical and appear without prior notice.  

Pandemics, natural –or human caused- disasters, lead to a series of strategies whose main purpose is to mitigate these issues through specific assitance actions; such as Humanitarian Logistics: the process of planning, implementation and developement of product flows, materials and information from donors all the way to the people who are benefited from them.  

In that sense, the distribution of vaccines and their movement worldwide is the perfect example; it is a challenge that involved a great deal of logistics, since it involved the private sector, the government, NGO’s, humanitarian organizations, among others with different capacities and objectives. 

This is why humanitarian logistics must integrate all these actors for the successful completion of an action, directing them and taking into account a series of management stages. 

According to a study conducted by Redalyc, the disaster management stages are distributed as follows: during preparation, organizations have the possibility of creating and developing collaborative platforms that avoid or reduce errors of technical or human origin in disaster response; meaning, the success of humanitarian logistics lie on the communication and coordination between the actors involved. 

Beyond the changes that arise in logistics and the coordination work that humanitarian logistics involves, it is a process that has to respond to a series of procedures and strategic planning in the humanitarian supply chain. Humanitarian logistics responds to the management of vulnerable situations as quickly as possible; evaluating and coordinating the actors involved, fulfilling its objective of equal distribution of humanitarian aid. 

Another key factor for humanitarian logistics is its complexity in the context in which it takes place -mainly in its scope. From the beginning of the work, local and international actors and organizations are involved, which have certain limitations and capacity to act, and respond to different interests with a single purpose. 

Hence why working together can be more complex than usual, since the coordination of the supply chain undergoes significant modifications or alterations along the way. 



According to the same Redalyc article, logistics processes represent 80 per cent of the total costs in disaster response. This is why coordination is of the utmost importance to achieve greater effectiveness in this kind of humanitarian work. Effective coordination reduces costs, delivery times and improves aid coverage. 

On the other hand, humanitarian logistics identify three strategic moments that respond to location, transport and inventories, moments in which highly strategic decision-making depend on elements such as: increasing coverage, transport processes and aid distribution, or collaborative storage and purchasing. 

Humanitarian logistics depend on too many actors and processes in the supply chain, which is why it is necessary to have impeccable communication and collaboration, since these elements can be of great help to avoid or even eliminate the number of errors, loss of resources and duplication of tasks and efforts. 

En Woodward tenemos más de 80 años trabajando en logística nacional e internacional; estamos conscientes de esta problemática a la cual se enfrentan organizaciones y empresas del sector privado y público para llevar ayuda y asistencia humanitaria en los contextos internacionales que se presentan.  

At Woodward we have worked on national and international logistics for over 80 years; we are aware of the problems faced by organizations and companies in the private and public sectors to bring aid and humanitarian assistance in the international contexts that arise.  

Early planning of humanitarian logistics processes and an agile supply chain integration is one of our services. We respond to the new challenges that the world is facing in order to also be able to solve humanitarian purposes and have a more solidary society.