A new concept for humanitarian logistics in DRC

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Photo: Conditions of access to the Pinga health zone. Mpeti-Pinga axis (Masisi, North Kivu / Walikalé, DRC)

Observations in multiple countries have highlighted the lack of data on logistic environments and related global vulnerability. To address this, ATLAS Logistique – HI-AL (the Operational and Technical Division of HI – Humanity and Inclusion) is developing new concepts to define logistics as a key pillar of the resilience of vulnerable populations.

HI-AL implemented a H2H Network funded pilot service in the North Kivu region in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) aimed at providing a logistics analysis on a small to medium scale area.

The objective was to identify and compile the reasons and factors that make an area more or less logistically accessible and therefore more or less vulnerable, and alongside this, to conduct an assessment and analysis on the high risk areas identified by the humanitarian actors working in North Kivu.

Vulnerability is often associated with the ‘make up’ of different groups in the population i.e. the proportion of males to females, the number of lactating mothers, the number of children and displaced persons etc., together with information from evidence-based surveys conducted by different intervention sectors (WASH, Food Security and Livelihoods, None Food Item).

HI-AL however, is convinced that the logistical environment of a person or group defines its capacity to either be reached by the humanitarian community or face crisis in the short or medium term. For example, when dozens of villages are accessed by one single road - which is often damaged in the rainy seasons due to extreme weather conditions - the inhabitants become more vulnerable to getting supplies and are less resilient to crisis and emergency situations.

As the HI-AL Project Manager in North Kivu (DRC), I was assigned to test this new concept with my team, supported by HI-AL Headquarters who developed the project methodology and technicity.

The project was implemented in two phases:

We developed a new concept called the ‘logistics vulnerability’ to compare administrative strata (i.e. health strands in the case of DRC) based on calculations from accessible secondary data (rurality rate, etc.). This process shows that authorities and humanitarian organizations at a country level are able to know where the most logistically vulnerable communities are located and can, through existing data, identify the hardest-to-reach areas (excluding information on the security situation).

Secondly, in collaboration with other humanitarian actors, we identified areas lacking logistics data and facing severe global vulnerability to carry out a logistics assessment. Taking into account the security constraints, we selected the Birambozo area for this assessment, focusing mostly on supply chain, markets and transportation. At the end of the assessment, we wanted to be able to respond to the following questions:

Transport: How much does it cost to deliver cargo in the area? What types of vehicles are available?

Infrastructure: What types of infrastructures are available? What are the transport capacities? Is there any need for transshipment? Which routes are most commonly used and essential for the community? What is the impact of the humanitarian supply chain on these infrastructures?

Supply chain: How dynamic is the local market? What is the stock level for the key None Food Item (NFI) and Food Item (FI)? Where are the strategic markets and supply areas located?

Humanitarian needs and response: Where is the population in needs pressuring the most local populations? Where can the humanitarian needs requiring the most transportations services be identified?

This assessment report will be presented to other local humanitarian organizations with recommendations from HI-AL based on the most logistically vulnerable areas.

With the support of HI-AL Headquarters, we were also able to develop a series of maps to illustrate the findings of the assessment.

Collaboration Between H2H Network members

The project was realized as a result of HI-AL’s partnership with CartONG, who helped with expertise and provided guidance in the data collection process, analysis and representation of the data. Given that this was our first experience with this process, the collaboration with CartONG really helped shape our data collection and format better representation.


A successful first step

It was a real challenge for us to develop a new approach and methodology in such a short period of time, whilst still retaining our ambitious objectives. I feel really proud to share the first study that my team has done on logistical environment for the area of Birambizo. This report is dedicated to the humanitarian actors and coordination teams but will also support the local population.

Our findings can been seen as a first step in the field of the humanitarian logistics research. The path has been shaped for our analysts and researchers and I am very confident that this project supported by the H2H Network will inform future research.