Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Humanitarian Logistics Association (HLA) Assembly – Bangkok, January 2013

The HLA assembly in Bangkok this year was attended by a diverse crowd including HLA board members, the Fritz Institute, UN agencies, the Red Cross, various major International NGOs as well as local NGOs, representatives from food banks in the region, representatives from the academic world, and representatives from the commercial sector, such as the RMA Group and World Cargo Alliance.

The theme of the day was capacity building, so many of the sessions were geared around the structured certification program for humanitarian logistics that the HLA has helped to put in place in recent years. From the Aidmatrix perspective, such initiatives are of great interest as anything that supports the improved image of the humanitarian logistics profession and helps to establish standard approaches, naturally complements our own efforts to leverage tools and technology for humanitarian logistics.

The discussion moved on to measuring logistics capacity and performance indicators: areas where larger INGOs – such as Save the Children and Oxfam - have both made significant progress in recent years. Again, this is of direct relevance to Aidmatrix as it represents the first step in a systematic approach that will lead to accurate identification of causality and, ultimately, professionalization solutions. In other words, checking the patient’s symptoms is the right place to start before you can diagnose the problem and prescribe the right medicine. Ultimately, we believe that Aidmatrix’ solutions are the right medicine. We discussed the need to take such initiatives to the next logical step: to investigate the “why?” and thereby establish causality. We intend to follow up closely with Oxfam and Save the Children to understand how they will go about this.

We were given fascinating presentations by several representatives actively engaged in humanitarian logistics in Asia: including Second Harvest Asia – a food banking agency active in Japan and the Philippines – and the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance. Both offer a great degree of potential for future partnerships with Aidmatrix, mirroring active partnerships we have with similar agencies in other regions. We also heard from Dr Robert de Souza from the University of Singapore, reflecting an the important and growing degree of interest in the subject of humanitarian logistics from the academic world.

Another focus, that the group turned to in the afternoon was the challenge of improving participation in the HLA from the Asia region. Currently only a small percentage of HLA members are based in this region which doesn’t accurately reflect the make-up of the profession. With a wide breadth of partnerships across different forms of humanitarian logistics and representation in Australia and India, Aidmatrix has offered to support this effort to the extent possible, by promoting and sharing information about the HLA with our partners.

We may also be able to help in other practical ways by leveraging our expertise in technology. A simple solution proposed would be to offer the HLA website in multiple languages – Aidmatrix has practical experience in applying technology which supports automatic translation into over 38 languages, including various Asian languages with different character sets. We have also offered to contribute content for the HLA’s technology pages, being directly involved in this field as providers and having close contacts with other technology partners interested in humanitarian logistics.

I found the Bangkok HLA assembly an incredibly positive and valuable event – both for Aidmatrix and for the humanitarian logistics community. I was able to meet up with some old friends and colleagues, put faces to names I was already familiar with, and also make new contacts, all with people who share my own passion on the subject of humanitarian logistics. We will continue to remain closely involved and offer our support wherever we can to this important and growing community of professionals. Their objectives are directly aligned with Aidmatrix’ own mission to accelerate humanitarian relief by finding tools and technologies to leverage humanitarian supply chains and logistics.”

-Dave Makepeace
Aidmatrix Business Analyst

No comments:

Post a Comment