Thursday, August 4, 2011

Logistics Complicate Food Aid Transport to Somalia

The logistics of transporting aid to famine-stricken Somalia is daunting. Meticulous planning and funding are needed for such a massive effort. Kenya is serving as a transit point for the emergency and longer-term supplies being into Somalia, with the past month seeing a stream of shipments by air, road, and sea.

It’s been a busy month for the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF. As the number of starving people has increased in Somalia, the agency has been scrambling to collect and deliver life-saving aid.

"We try and buy locally, in Nairobi, when we can, but obviously with the crisis as large as this we are looking to bring in supplies from other parts of the world," said Shantha Bloemen, spokesperson for UNICEF Somalia, based in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. "UNICEF has its supply division in Copenhagen. So we’ve already had, in the last few weeks, four full charter flights, 747, carrying about 350 tons of supplies into Nairobi, and then they’ll go either by ship, road, or air into Somalia.”

In total, UNICEF Somalia transported 2,000 metric tons of aid into Somalia during the month of July.

Such an operation requires strategic thinking, taking into consideration travel times, transportation infrastructure, security, and needs of the people on the ground.

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