One of the primary goals for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and humanitarian relief associations is delivering the right supplies at the right time to the right locations – all in order to save lives and help communities in need.
As such, NGOs often face logistics challenges that differ from the issues faced by larger companies with well-established supply chains. Smaller NGOs are dependent on donations and often find it difficult to predict the exact amounts of inventory they will receive, how they will store the eventual surplus and at what cost.
Next to uncertain supply comes uncertain demand, as the need of humanitarian efforts continues to be unpredictable. And once the supply and demand are aligned and storage is ensured, the humanitarian relief needs to be shipped to the destination in need – which brings new challenges of its own.
Larger organisations have established processes and partnerships, but smaller NGOs rarely have easy access to logistics companies due to their unpredictable and low volumes. A lack of freight options and external support can result in companies failing and therefore being unable to support communities in need, which Maersk is working hard to alleviate.
Case in point: medical mission to Cameroon
One such local organisation in Spain is the Andalusian Association for Sanitary Cooperation, which coordinates medical missions and supports communities in Cameroon.
The organisation collects donations of medical equipment and protective supplies before sending to Cameroon where they’re needed most. There, they are joined by doctors from Spain who provide essential surgeries and education to local doctors.
For the mission to be successful, it is essential that cargo is delivered on time and when volunteers are at the location. Getting everything coordinated and lined up proved a major challenge for the association on a recent mission, as it seemed shipping providers had no available vessel space for their cargo at the right time.
Reaching out to the Maersk team in Algeciras, the Association was able to get support through the booking process, as well as containers, vessel space, equipment, documentation and cargo discharge at the final destination.
Our team in Algeciras worked with the local volunteers on arranging empty containers and documentation required for the medical supplies and ensuring the cargo was ready for shipment. Once the cargo was on board, the team on the vessel kept a close eye on it through the transhipment and final delivery before discharging to the warehouse in Douala.
This year’s mission marked the second year in a row that Maersk has supported the Andalusian Association for Sanitary Cooperation, and our teams look forward to doing so in the future in line with our purpose and ESG strategy.
The challenges of small NGOs are extensive, and to live our purpose of improving life for all by integrating the world, our teams are finding ways to become more visible to the humanitarian relief associations in need and hope to share more concrete steps soon.