Private-public partnerships and increased collaboration are essential to improving humanitarian supply chains

With more than 88 million (UN 2016) people in need, and 60-80% of humanitarian expenditure tied up in supply chains, the importance of humanitarian supply chain has hardly ever been greater.  A recent report from the World Food Programme (WFP),”Delivering in a Moving World”, highlights the need for non-governmental organisations (NGOs), governments, and the private sector, to increase collaboration when preparing for and responding to humanitarian crises. The report referenced three case studies in West Africa (Ebola), Nepal (Earthquake) and Philippines (Haiyan  Super Typhoon), but also noted the Haiti crisis, and the more than 200 donors that deployed at the same time during the crisis.

The report highlights the critical role that the private sector can play, not only in providing technology expertise, but also to strengthen local supply chains and to improve supply chain agility. The importance of strengthening local supply chains can’t be underestimated, or “as local as possible and as international as necessary.”

The private sector can sell or produce required supplies (e.g. equipment, medicine) during a crisis, and can assist with warehousing and transportation. Most importantly, the report notes the need for long term private-public partnerships (PPPs), and the importance to focus on emergency preparations prior to a crisis. The report states that there is a need to move away from organisational silos, improve long term collaboration at all levels, and leverage shared organisational services during a crisis.