The United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD)

UNHRD enables its partners to assist people affected by natural disasters or other complex emergencies by prepositioning vital relief items and allowing them to be dispatched rapidly to critical areas. In addition, the HRD network offers services and knowledge that allow various humanitarian partners to fulfill their missions rapidly and effectively.

UNHRD is an international network of six humanitarian support hubs located strategically around the world that provide supply chain solutions to the international humanitarian community. It is managed by WFP and currently enables 86 partners to respond rapidly and precisely to global emergencies. The individual depots are located in Italy, the UAE, Ghana, Panama, Malaysia and Spain.


The original UNHRD depot was inaugurated in the year 2000 to replace the Humanitarian Depot in Pisa, then managed by the Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Upon decision of the Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) the mandate to provide rapid and accessible stockpiling and demobilisation services to partners inside and outside the United Nations was transferred from OCHA to WFP. Subsequently, the hub was moved to the military airport at Brindisi in an effort to set up a new and robust logistics platform, available to all partners as a “shared resource”.

In 2006, based on its own requirements and that of its partners, WFP replicated the successful Brindisi model by setting up further emergency response facilities in strategic locations worldwide, creating a network of HRDs in Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and Latin America. Each of these locations has been selected to provide easy access to an airport, port and road systems, making access to a wide range of transportation methods available and allowing for consistently low response times of 24-48 hours.

Originally, five humanitarian organisations relied on the UNHRD Network, including WFP itself. This number has since grown to 86 in July 2017. Partner organisations that join the network are diverse, spanning UN agencies, governmental and non-governmental organisations.

UNHRD Services

Core business: Stockpiling and Response

The UNHRD network provides the core services of warehousing, inspection and handling of prepositioned relief items in any of the six HRDs worldwide for its range of partners at no cost. Additionally, it offers a wide range of related services, such as procurement, transport, technical assistance and technological innovation through its internal R&D facility, UNHRD Lab. In combination, UNHRD is able to provide holistic solutions to its partners, facilitating their humanitarian response.

Operational field support

Expanding its core services, UNHRD offers optional technical assistance for specialised logistics services through its Rapid Response Teams (RRTs). These highly skilled technicians are deployed at the onset of an emergency to prevent any potential bottlenecks in the receiving areas. Among the tasks executed by RRT members are the installation of mobile warehouses, training of local staff and, should the emergency demand it, the setting up of treatment units and decontamination bays.

Upgrading of support equipment

Through the UNHRD Lab, the Network is able to offer R&D services to its partners in the continuous effort to increase effectiveness in emergency situations. The unit reviews, designs and upgrades relief items in light of its partner’s potential needs. The optimised designs are subsequently tested for use in a humanitarian setting before being fed back into the UNHRD Network as procurable stock for partners. Currently the Lab focuses on reducing packaging waste from relief items, among other projects. You can find a more extensive overview of Lab activities on its dedicated page.