Unfortunately, as is the case each year, the world was impacted by dramatic events – the war in Ukraine, with its ripple effects, brought the world back into crisis-mode. In addition, the humanitarian community faced other onset emergencies, such as the flooding in Pakistan, while continuing to address protracted crises in Haiti, the Horn of Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, South Sudan, the migrant flow across the Darien Gap and many other hidden crises. UNHRD provided critical support to partners to respond to these crises thus ensuring that much needed assistance reached those most in need.
The World Food Programme (WFP) established the UNHRD Network when, following a series of emergencies between 2004 and 2005 – the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, the earthquake in Pakistan, the Darfur crisis and drought in Niger – it recognized the need for a robust supply chain platform to rapidly respond to several crises simultaneously and to expand its support to the wider humanitarian community. The relevance of this capacity, especially in terms of the hubs’ strategic positions across the world, was again confirmed against the current humanitarian scenario.
UNHRD’s value was also confirmed by the external assessment that concluded at the start of the year and informed the 2022-2025 strategy which focuses on three pillars:
● Strengthen performance in core activities
● Build a relationship driven culture
● Become agents of change
Key to achieving the objectives of the new strategy is implementing a financially sustainable model and, thanks to the support of UNHRD host governments and donor countries, a solid path has been laid to reaching this goal within a few years.
Since UNHRD was established and the Network created, their support has been vital to offer storage of humanitarian items at no cost: in 2022, partners saved, on average, USD 10.8 million in storage fees globally.
Beyond its operational support role, UNHRD expanded its position as platform for developing value-based partnerships and facilitated the implementation of INITIATE2, the project co-led by WFP and the World Health Organization (WHO). INITIATE2 is a project that focuses on developing products and approaches that improve the preparedness and response capability of partners to health crises.
All of the above was of course only achievable thanks to the global UNHRD team who worked tirelessly to deliver services to partners and steer the course for UNHRD as a tool enabling the humanitarian community to unlock the full potential of partnerships.
A sincere thanks to the team, the partners, our donors and all who are collaborating and contributing to the UNHRD platform.
It also damaged critical infrastructure, and disrupted supply chains and economies globally, the majority of which were only starting to recover from the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, some 20 years had passed since the humanitarian community had responded to a large-scale crisis in Europe, meaning that systems and structures were put to the test.
UNHRD, thanks to its strategic locations, supported partners with overland and air shipments to Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia and Hungary. UNHRD staff from a variety of hubs also deployed to Poland and Moldova to support WFP Supply Chain on corridor operations, warehouse management and information management.
The humanitarian context in the country also accounts as a complex crisis considering that the country host one of the largest displaced populations in the world linked to the instability in Afghanistan.
From June to October 2022, extreme flooding left roughly one-third of the country underwater affecting an estimated 33 million people. These devasting floods, recorded as the worst in the country’s history, were triggered by heavier than usual monsoon rains and a severe heat wave that caused glaciers to melt. On 25 August, the Government declared a state of emergency and took the lead on the response. UNHRD’s support to partners intensified in September, with eight consignments in three weeks, out of the 10 linked to the flooding response.
Humanitarian needs, already at prominent levels due to the 4-year long food crisis and the devastating 7.2 earthquake in August 2021, further increased in the second half of 2022 due to gang violence and a cholera outbreak. In addition to creating internal displacement to makeshift camps, the armed gangs blocked the entrance of the country’s primary fuel terminal for over two months, creating shortages of diesel and gasoline with a ripple effect also on humanitarian operations. In October, two cholera cases in the capital Port-au-Prince prompted the Haitian health authorities to declare an outbreak.
In 2022, the main drivers of humanitarian needs were brought about by drought, climate change and economic shocks, compounded by a major earthquake in June. The lingering effects of decades of war, recurrent natural disasters and the long-term effects of COVID-19 continued to rattle the country and compounded by the erosion of multiple basic human rights, plunge millions into poverty, preventing them from building resilience and moving towards recovery and solutions.
When the duration goes beyond the “onset emergency” or the initial 90-day response, more variables are involved, and the volume of consignments and cargo shipped might not be enough to rank them into what this report usually define as “major operations” for a single country.
In 2022, UNHRD continued to support partners in their efforts in some critical areas such as the Horn of Africa, Central and Eastern Africa and the Darién Gap.
Ethiopia, particularly vulnerable to weather-related shocks, such as droughts and floods, is still coping with impact of the Tigray conflict.
After four consecutive failed rainfall seasons, Kenya experienced a late and short October-December rainy season; meanwhile, refugees continued to arrive, mainly from neighbouring countries such as Somalia and South Sudan.
Somalia is in the grip of the worst drought in 40 years affecting nearly half of the country’s population and security remains a challenge.
Uganda hosts the largest refugee population in Africa and the third largest in the world, mostly from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In 2022, in a refugee context aggravated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the country also experienced climate-related hazards and, starting from September, an outbreak of the Ebola virus.
Due to conflict, poverty, malnutrition and frequent disease outbreaks, DRC continues to be one of biggest humanitarian crises with needs amongst the highest in the world. South Sudan is facing the worst humanitarian crisis since its independence in 2011. The country is on the frontlines of the climate crisis and millions in the country are living the daily reality of a worsening climate. More than one million people have been affected by an unprecedented, multi-year flood event that is sweeping the nation, worsening elevated levels of hunger caused by ongoing conflict and the global food crisis.
The number of migrants embarking on the perilous Darien Gap route, between Panama and Colombia, reached a record in 2022, nearly doubling the figures of the previous year. According to the Panamanian government, nearly 250,000 people crossed into the country compared to some 133,000 in 2021.
The vast majority of migrants following this route come from Venezuela, which continues to face a deep economic, social and political crisis. Since 2015, more that 7.1 million Venezuelans have fled the country. Out of them, more than 2.48 million live in Colombia where, despite significant development gains over the past decade, humanitarian needs are still rising because of conflict, increased impact of hazards related to climate change growing socio-economic vulnerabilities worsened by COVID-19.
UNHRD creates value for the humanitarian community through its global platform of partners, who collaborate on developing solutions that enhance logistics preparedness and response capabilities.
Here are some examples of how partners come together to exchange knowledge and expertise and use the reach of the Network for better stockpiling strategies.
INITIATE2 is a project that is co-managed by the World Organization (WHO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) and that focuses on product development for health humanitarian responses. During 2022, partners who are involved in emergency outbreak response activities met in UNHRD Brindisi to work on a solution for developing a mobile infectious disease treatment module.
This initiative leverages on the infrastructures of UNHRD Brindisi which is used to organize workshops and large-scale emergency simulations. At these facilities, the prototype of the treatment module will be tested, and responders will be trained on its installation and use, in real-life scenarios by mid-2023.
INITIATE2 was launched at the G20 ministerial event on “The role of logistics in preparedness and response for the COVID-19 pandemic and future humanitarian and health crisis” held at UNHRD Brindisi on 30 June 2021. One year after this event, the initiative received further attention by the G20 members states as it was included in the list of “Actions for strong and inclusive recovery” part of the G20’s Declaration announced at the Bali Summit in Indonesia on 15-16 November 2022. This recognition is testament to the crucial significance of value-based partnerships and of a unified approach since preparedness in responding to the challenges faced by the world.
The Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) launched at UNHRD Panama their first regional humanitarian stockpile during a visit to the hub of the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, on 13 October. More stocks will be prepositioned in the other UNHRD hubs in Brindisi (Italy), Dubai (UAE) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).
Items pre-positioned at these selected UNHRD hubs include shelter items, blankets, hygiene kits, kitchen sets and equipment such as collapsible water tanks. ECHO’s decision to implement their regional humanitarian stockpile through UNHRD, which comes also with a two-year donation of USD 700,000 to the Network, is a further recognition of its the vital services in enabling global and regional emergency preparedness and response efforts of the wider humanitarian community in the context of the rapidly changing relief sector.
On 6 and 7 October 2022, 41 participants from 36 organizations gathered at the Brindisi hub for the UNHRD Global Partner Meeting. It offered the opportunity to present and discuss the new UNHRD Strategy 2022-2025 which focuses on three pillars:
● Strengthen performance in core activities
● Build a relationship driven culture
● Become agents of change
Sessions of the meeting provided space to discuss strategic stockpiling, value-based partnerships such as INITIATE2, capability transfer and simulation trainings. Participants shared inputs on the creation of a task force made up of UNHRD partners and staff to provide guidance on stocks composition and ceilings and improve coordination amongst the humanitarian community before and during emergencies.
Host governments and the donor community continued to support UNHRD – thanks to the space made available by our host governments, UNHRD partners saved, on average, USD 10.8 million in storage fees globally in 2022. We are pleased to share some highlights on events and operations involving this part of our community.
Attending this handover ceremony, the then Minister of Government of Panama, Janaina Tewaney Mencomo, reiterated her country’s commitment in leveraging its key position in the region to facilitate humanitarian response in Latin America and the Caribbean, including through the Regional Logistics Centre for Humanitarian Assistance (CLRAH). The Ministry of Government generously hosts UNHRD Panama within these facilities which were established in 2018. The then Vice minister of Multilateral Affairs and International Cooperation, Ana Luisa Castro, taking over the presidency on behalf of her government, emphasized how humanitarian assistance is at the top of Panama's foreign affairs agenda by making available its modern and integrated logistics platform, the first in its hemisphere, to ensure a rapid and coordinated response to crisis. Representing the Government of Panama, there was also the Permanent Representative to FAO, IFAD and WFP, Tomás Duncan Jurado. Addressing the event on behalf of WFP was the Deputy Executive Director, Management, and Chief Financial Officer, Manoj Juneja, the Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Lola Castro, and the then UNHRD Network Coordinator, Marta Laurienzo.
With an increasing number of humanitarian organizations using the hub’s training centre and simulations facilities, the priority area of intervention to be covered through this first contribution will be the construction of the security fencing of the area recently made available by the Italian Ministry of Defence. By securing the use of this area, which offers a natural setting and dismissed infrastructures resembling a post-disaster landscape, the hub is expanding its capacity for scenario-based simulations as well as for accommodation.
At the same time, the facility at the Brindisi military airport compound hosting warehouse space, including cold and temperature-controlled rooms, and a cargo centre will be also renovated.
Through this MoU, Italy has confirmed what announced at the G20 ministerial event hosted at UNHRD Brindisi on 30 June 2021 that is their support on the larger multi-year investment on the hub to establish an international conference centre, strengthen its logistics capacity and upgrade of the research and development unit. Overall, the plan shall aim to reduce the carbon footprint of the hub, including through the installation of green energy production infrastructure and by renewing the fleet with electric vehicles.
Over 2022, WFP invested in the refurbishment of the plenary room of the hub’s Training Centre to strengthen the facilities’ capacity for scenario-based simulations. The Global Partner Meeting, there hosted in October, came with the perfect time to display such renovation which walks in parallel with the above-mentioned widerplan: over the first half of 2023 the renovation of the Training Centre will be completed and work in the new simulation area will begin.
Such airlifts have been made available at a moment’s notice and have afforded UNHRD the possibility to offer partners free of cost transport options for emergency operations. In 2022, this tremendous support was harnessed to swiftly respond to the devastating floods in Pakistan.
At the core of UNHRD are our global teams who dedicate their lives to supporting the humanitarian partner community. In addition to the many interactions with you throughout the year, here are some key moments of the activities that teams have been involved in.
This is recounted through the voices of the staff who, in many cases, have been part of the Brindisi hub and worked behind the scenes since its establishment in June 2000. Since then, WFP transformed a humanitarian depot into a supply chain hub and created a network to expand its own preparedness and response capacity and that of the wider humanitarian community. RAI Italia’s cameras show how UNHRD organizes a humanitarian consignment on behalf of a partner organization, following the journey of one air shipment from preparation and loading in Brindisi to offloading in Baghdad, Iraq, and handover to local authorities.
On 10 – 12 October, UNHRD Customer Service staff gathered at the Brindisi hub for a workshop aimed at strengthening their knowledge across the functions to better support partners in their requests. Colleagues from Finance, Procurement, Support Across the Network, Health Supply Chain and UNHRD Lab joined the sessions to reinforce the cross-functional work. Customer Service staff also attended the Global Partner Meeting, which was held just before the workshop, to get the opportunity to interact face-to-face with partners with whom they usually work through computer screens.