In times of crisis, rapid response and efficient logistics are crucial for delivering aid and relief to those in need, and with such extensive expertise in aviation and logistics, Chapman Freeborn has played a pivotal role in supporting humanitarian organizations, governments, and NGOs in their aid and relief efforts spanning the last 50 years. Almost every emergency airlift mission over the past five decades has involved an aircraft chartered by Chapman Freeborn.

Chapman Freeborn has recently joined the Humanitarian Logistics Network, reinforcing its commitment to humanitarian efforts. This partnership allows Chapman Freeborn to collaborate with a diverse group of humanitarian organizations, promoting knowledge exchange and cooperation. This collaboration plays a crucial role in managing effective humanitarian responses, as it helps navigate logistical challenges, optimize resources, and deliver aid efficiently.

Chapman Freeborn specializes in providing swift and effective air charter solutions for delivering aid and assistance to disaster-stricken areas, conflict zones, and other regions in need. By leveraging a global network of airlines, cargo operators, and private aircraft, the company can provide humanitarian organizations with access to a wide range of aircraft, including cargo planes, helicopters, and passenger aircraft configured for medical evacuation. This versatility allows for the transportation of large quantities of aid, medical personnel, and equipment to remote and inaccessible areas.

Chapman Freeborn adheres to stringent safety standards and protocols, ensuring that all aspects of the logistics process meet the highest quality and security measures.

Case Study – Turkey and Syria

Chapman Freeborn partnered with several international humanitarian organizations to provide air charter services during this crisis and operated over 45 flights to affected areas. They successfully chartered aid flights to the affected regions from the USA, UAE, Germany, Spain, Belgium, India, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, Singapore and the Philippines.

Within a few hours of the first earthquake, Chapman Freeborn’s team was immediately activated as it started to receive requests for both passenger and cargo requirements. Chapman Freeborn investigated the best airports in Turkey and Syria to support the efforts of its clients, contacting Civil Aviation Authorities and ground handling companies. At the same time, its humanitarian teams were also in contact with multiple operators in the Middle East and Europe, to ascertain the capacity that would be available as soon as the cargo requests came in.

Many years of civil war have rendered delivering cargo to Syria very challenging, however, Chapman Freeborn’s team navigated Syria’s embargoes and closed borders to ensure the aid reached the people who needed it most, coordinating its onward passage too. The team gained the necessary land permits, flyover rights, and approvals from the Syrian Civilian Aviation Authority and the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, resulting in thousands of tonnes of aid reaching the population.


Through its air charter expertise, rapid response capabilities, and strong partnerships, Chapman Freeborn enables aid and relief organizations to navigate the complexities of disaster zones and deliver life-saving assistance to those in need. As crises continue to arise around the world, Chapman Freeborn remains committed to empowering humanitarian efforts and making a positive difference in the lives of affected communities.

The 15 countries that are being affected the worst by an unprecedented food and nutrition crisis are being urged by United Nations agencies to take immediate action to safeguard the most vulnerable children.

Numerous children are suffering from severe malnutrition, and access to vital health, nutrition, and other life-saving services is decreasing as a result of conflict, climatic shocks, COVID-19's continued effects, and growing living costs. Acute malnutrition, often known as wasting, affects more than 30 million children in the 15 nations with the highest rates of the condition. Severe wasting, the deadliest type of undernutrition, affects 8 million of these children. This poses a serious threat to children's lives, long-term health, and development, with consequences felt by people, their communities, and their nations.

For full article, click here.

Like many African doctors, Peter Mativo had to travel overseas to complete his training.

In 2007 he left Kenya for Bangalore to pursue his goal of becoming a neurologist. After 18 months in India, he returned to Kenya and now works at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi.

"Most of us train in India, as Africa is not a developed continent. We have a very poor economy with no medical infrastructure in place nor specialised training," he says.

"I would have never been able to get a specialised degree if I would have not opted for India," Mr Mativo says.

India is keen to strengthen such ties with Africa. It has identified the healthcare sector as one area where trade between the continents can flourish.

So young African doctors are encouraged to finish their training in India, meanwhile, Indian healthcare firms are expanding all over Africa.

For the full article, click here.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a worldwide public health crisis that has afflicted women and girls throughout history. GBV, which is defined as harmful acts intended towards individuals based on their gender, is a persistent concern for girls and women all over the world, regardless of age, ethnicity, or financial situation. And they are vulnerable everywhere – at work, school, and at household.

To know more, click here.

The unprecedented drought in the Horn of Africa is affecting the entire community, but women and girls are paying an "unacceptably high price," according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which launched a $113.7 million appeal to meet their needs on Wednesday. 

The funds will be used to expand life-saving reproductive health and protection services, such as the establishment of mobile and static clinics in places like displacement camps.

Because of the drought, more than 36 million people in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya require humanitarian assistance. 

For the full article, click here  

In the lead up to our annual Health and Humanitarian Logistics Conference, 16 & 17 November, we hear from key people from around the HLA's network and the humanitarian aid sector.

In this guest blog, Pamela Steele considers the steps needed to develop capacity in health supply chains, and the challenges faced by low-middle income countries.


In 2014, West Africa was the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak. The Mano River Union (MRU) countries, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia were hit by almost 99% of the total Ebola cases. Sierra Leone and Liberia themselves faced particularly unstable conditions as they had just emerged from deadly civil wars that had devastated their economies and health systems. These countries all faced significant challenges when battling the disease due to health systems lacking in basic supply chain infrastructure.

It’s not only the West African countries have fragile health systems. Most Low and Middle-Income Countries' health infrastructures were implemented by colonial administrations in prior decades and today are considered to be dilapidated. These health systems remain weak despite billions of dollars invested by western donor countries. When the devastating Covid-19 pandemic struck, there was a huge fear that they could not withstand the pressures. Africa was fortunate that, while the impact of Covid-19 was strongly felt globally and locally, it did not kill as many people as had been envisaged (although it did lead to a high level of economic suffering in its aftermath).      

This poses a significant question - will these countries be lucky again, given that no-one knows when the next pandemic will kick in? And has Africa learned its lesson on the need to strengthen its weak health systems, particularly the health supply chain system? 

The pandemic put great strains on existing health systems. It challenged in-country health supply chains, significantly impacting the delivery of essential care to those in need up-to-and-including today, two years after! Poor infrastructure that currently supports the delivery of health products, inadequate funding, parallel supply systems, insufficient local manufacturing capabilities, high prices, are some of the critical weaknesses exposed by both Ebola and the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This situation urgently calls for building efficient supply chain connections that focus on identifying locally sustainable and globally enabled supply chain management approaches, adaptable to complex and challenging environments. Thus, the need to develop innovative solutions that meet markets local, regional, and global needs.

Governments Leading The Way

Unreliable access to medicines and other health supplies remains one of the leading causes

of preventable deaths and poor health outcomes, particularly in Africa. One third of lives are at risk because of irregular access to medicines. While many factors affect the availability of drugs, the capacity of a country's supply chain to ensure access to health supplies can be a significant constraint. As mentioned earlier, although western donors have been investing heavily in strengthening health systems and, recently, supply chain capacity development, we have seen little progress being made. What can be done to ensure their investments lead to sustainable improvements that reduce dependency on external assistance? I think that the model for capacity development is archaic, often driven by donors with little commitment from national governments, and where implementing partners do the job through embedded staff instead of genuinely building the capacity of government staff to act autonomously. It's time to take a performance-based approach, because it should not be dependent on donors to come up with a plan for strengthening a country's health system; rather, it should be government leaders leading their health system strengthening by taking the driver's seat and driving development. 

The parallel systems, although created with good intentions, weaken government systems, including poaching the few capable workforces, thereby weakening the same governments they have come to help, thus the need to integrate those systems and take a whole-system perspective. 

The Right People and the Right Skills

But let's face it, strengthening health supply chains is complex and costly. 

According to (Kaplan, 1999), capacity development is "the ability [of an organization] to function as a resilient, strategic and autonomous entity" or, as defined by United Nations Development Programme, the process through which individuals, organizations, and societies obtain, strengthen, and maintain the capabilities to set and achieve their development objectives over time. In addition, the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness states that capacity development is essential for sustainable development. Supported by strengthening and using national procurement and supply management systems, they are crucial elements of scaling up for more effective aid. 

Health supply chain capacity development requires the rare skills of planning, execution, monitoring, and fully understanding supply operations. Reforms can be driven by national-level stakeholders through internal and external political channels, but also by interest groups with a narrow focus on a specific commodity (e.g. vaccines) or a specific part of the supply chain (e.g. cold chain or procurement). Developing meaningful supply chain capacity improvements involves governments, the private sector, non-profits, and international organizations, as well as funds and collaborative initiatives. Some of these entities enjoy political clout, visibility, and attractive funding facilities, while others have gained credibility with niche expertise, unique tools, or in-country presence. In addition, many of these entities collaborate. Yet often, many technical implementers tend to lack the capacity and capability to develop systems that would reduce a government's dependency on external expertise.

Six Steps to Sustainable Development

Supply chain capacity development is complex. It is not an intervention; and is not as simple as providing technical assistance or training, although these are essential elements in operationalizing capacity development strategies. Meaningful development involves managing change and strengthening the enabling societal environment and the organizational levels, as well as the capacity of the individuals working in the supply chain. The aim is to make such improvements sustainable. 

Here are a few guiding principles one could take into consideration when embarking on health supply chain capacity development: 

  1. Context: ensure the context is considered holistically linked to governance, financing, workforce, and information systems, and is aligned with the national development plans and strategies. 

  2. Ownership: health supply chain capacity development efforts reside with those who "own" the supply chain(s), as only those in charge of the systems can change them and influence the enabling environment. Third parties can advocate for and facilitate the process; however, no third party can promise to ensure, guarantee or lead such reforms.

  3. Partnerships: Supply chain capacity development must be approached in collaboration with all stakeholders that operate or depend on the system, or can otherwise be supported. This includes aid agencies, local NGOs, civil societies, faith-based organizations, and the private sector. Inclusion and early stakeholder engagement lays the foundation for the sense of ownership, benefiting implementation. Although forging a broad stakeholder base is time-consuming, this consultation process can serve as a form of capacity development. The partners work through a process that can later be emulated in similar contexts.

  4. AS-IS before TO-BE: Country contexts vary; Supply chain capacity development advice and action are based on facts, logic, and evidence. Despite the money and time investment, robust systems assessments and root cause analyses are critical stages to precede remedial action. If the reform is not anchored in a solid foundation (the objectives and critical issues), the likelihood of failure increases.

  5. Commitment and Sustainability: Supply chain capacity development is a long-term commitment. At the onset, it is agreed with the stakeholders what success will look like and how it is articulated as longer-term goals and shorter-term milestones that can be monitored. 

  6. Capacity to help: Navigating the process of forging partnerships, establishing strategic frameworks, and contributing to assessments and root cause analyses as part of supply chain capacity development is demanding and time-consuming. It requires broader skill sets that differ from those required for technical assistance. Third parties making supply chain capacity development commitments do so with a pragmatic view of what they can do and where their relative strengths lie. 

Governments need to get into the driver's seat to make capacity developments happen, and they need to take a systematic approach to address health system strengthening and coordination of partners as a foundation for improving health care. Indeed, this will be required to achieve sustainable development goals on health and for universal health coverage to become a reality.


Our 2022 Health and Humanitarian Logistics Conference is taking place on 16 & 17 November at the Aidex Expo, Brussels. The theme for this year is 'Strengthening Local Crisis Preparedness and Response Plans through Effective Logistics Networks', where challenges and potential solutions will be discussed over two days.

Register now for free in-person or online access

In the lead up to our annual Health and Humanitarian Logistics Conference, 16 & 17 November, we hear from key people from around the HLA's network and the humanitarian aid sector.

Today, Prof. Luk Van Wassenhove reflects on 20 years of humanitarian logistics.


“It was 20 years ago, today…”, goes the famous opening line of The Beatles’ magnum opus Sgt. Pepper’s. It is indeed some 20 years ago, today, that we saw the birth of humanitarian logistics as a necessary and respected discipline in practice, and a subject of study in academia. Sure, there were plenty of excellent and experienced humanitarian logisticians or “loggies” before that time, but the rest of the organization often viewed logistics as the rather simple (but too expensive) operational task of bringing stuff from point A to point B. Clearly, given the sometimes-rough field context, the delivery of supplies was not always a piece of cake and many loggies were guys (yes, sorry, almost all guys) who could entertain you endlessly with strong cowboy-like stories late at night at the bar. These very motivated professionals had mountains of experience but little training and systems to support them. Improvisation (“doing miracles” ) was probably the right word to describe a lot of behavior. Humanitarian organizations, including the big ones like the UN sisters, did not consider logistics to be a crucial function in which investments were badly needed.

Consequently, little management attention and resources were allocated to develop logistics and the function was hidden somewhere very low in the hierarchy. Not surprising that at some point the humanitarian world would face reality, that is: be faced with the fact that logistics is a crucial function. This realization indeed happened after the response to a few major sudden-onset disasters, such as the Indian Ocean tsunami, had been below par and strongly criticized, and people realized change was necessary.  

Adapting logistics to a changing world

Today, logistics is a well-respected function, relatively high in the organizational hierarchy, with full attention to the need for expert professionals (i.e., hiring, training, and retention) and adequate systems for preparedness and response (at least in most organizations). Of course, a lot remains to be done but there is a solid bedrock to which further progress can be systematically added. Logisticians today are well-trained experts, capable of adapting and applying concepts (e.g. from the commercial sector) to their specific context. We have seen the emergence of professional logistics associations like HLA playing an important supporting role, as well as many training programs, be they internal or at academic institutes. Researchers have developed methods and insights to support system design and decision making. 

It is truly amazing how much progress was made in two decades. Humanitarian logistics has become a mature function with plenty of expertise. Humanitarian operations have become “Better, Faster and Cheaper” like the IFRC slogan used to say. Of course, this does not mean there is no room for improvement, especially in smaller organizations that lack the resources to develop a full-fledged logistics function. There is a clear role to be played here for bigger organizations as well as for professional associations like the HLA.

But beware; to not take the time to evolve the sector correctly would mean going backward. While logistics has progressed enormously within the humanitarian sector, the world has also fundamentally changed: technology, funding, long-lasting contracted disasters, pandemics, war, climate change. Feel free to add many other elements as you see fit. Once again, there may be lack of management understanding of the key role logistics needs to play. This is no time to rest on our laurels since we could easily find ourselves in the same situation as 20 years ago. 

Just take the change vectors mentioned above and ask yourself if logistics sits at the table where key strategic decisions are made. I am sure you will agree that we are not quite there yet. The next logical question is: what is required? Well, just like in commercial companies, logistics needs to be strongly connected to the other managerial functions and responsibilities within the organization and be onpar with them. It should not be isolated or inferior. Second, one needs to realize that one cannot possibly do things alone, i.e. there is a strong need for partnerships and specialization in the supply chain. E.g. why should every organization have its own fleet? Can’t we think about mobility and set up excellent sharing systems, at least for some of our needs? Third, how to think about efficient and effective use of technology? The first thing that comes to mind is that data is still in many cases the beast. Effective data gathering (and sharing in some cases) would truly help since modern data analytics can provide useful insights. Similarly, AI types of techniques can help forecast future needs which is particularly urgent in the context of climate change. I am sure you can easily add to this short list. 

The importance of supply chain management

The key point and common element, however, is that all of these require a strong supply chain management function to transfer from a largely internal system optimization view to an external influencing view where input from excellent supply chain analyses drives important decisions on funding, technology, partnerships, collaboration, specialization, etc. Supply chain management, anchored in logistics, should become a driver, not an add-on to decisions taken elsewhere. Of course, this requires attracting and developing supply chain experts with the managerial skills that can help leverage logistics know-how by influencing important strategic organizational decisions, without having the authority to impose them. 

My major point is that logistics today finds itself at an important junction, just like 20 years ago. It needs to change its perspective and take the next step in becoming a driver of important strategic decisions within the organization. E.g. how do we invest in data analytics, technology, sharing platforms, partnerships? How do we decide which key competencies to focus on so that we can provide (sell) services to others, and how do we decide what we should outsource? 

Covid-19 has clearly shown that the world is a very complex and heavily interconnected system. This system complexity also hits the humanitarian world in the face. Complex systems require a different outlook and willingness to align many stakeholders. We can’t do it alone and we heavily depend on what others decide to do. Moreover, the problems are so huge that we cannot even dream of having sufficient resources. There is simply no other solution than to collaborate/exchange/partner with others, be they humanitarian, commercial, or academic.

Our challenges for the next 20 years

Continuing to evolve and progress probably also means that it would be wise to pay more attention to diversity, e.g. women in leadership positions and empowerment of locals. It should also be noted that collaboration with other external as well as internal stakeholders can be strongly enhanced by technology. Finally, one cannot ignore the importance of reducing the environmental footprint of humanitarian action.

Just like 20 years ago, I am strongly convinced that the current logistics/supply chain departments and their experts are ready to tackle the new challenges. It is no longer about logistics (often considered to be an operational execution function) but rather about supply chain management, with the emphasis on management (a more strategic integrative perspective).  Logistics has built the expertise. It is time to leverage this expertise to better manage supply chains and help drive important change in our organizations.


Professor Luk Van Wassenhove currently focuses on aligning business models and new technologies with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, e.g. closed-loop supply chains, circular economy, and disaster and health logistics.  He recently co-edited special issues on humanitarian operations for the Journal of Operations Management, the Production and Operations Management Journal and the European Journal of Operational Research.

At INSEAD Professor Van Wassenhove holds the Henry Ford Chair in Manufacturing, as emeritus. He currently leads INSEAD’s Humanitarian Research Group.


Our 2022 Health and Humanitarian Logistics Conference is taking place on 16 & 17 November at the Aidex Expo, Brussels. The theme for this year is 'Strengthening Local Crisis Preparedness and Response Plans through Effective Logistics Networks', where challenges and potential solutions will be discussed over two days.

Register now for free in-person or online access

In effort to build the capacity within the sector, Logistics Learning Alliance (LLA UK) has been partnering with the ICRC and other organisations since 2006 through the FRITZ CHL, CHSCM and the Humanitarian Medical Logistics Practice (Distance Learning) programmes. The LLA’s Humanitarian Essential Logistics Modules (HELM) covers essential topics and roles in the humanitarian logistics and supply chains. HELM is delivered in Kenya, Turkey, Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Haiti.

The ICRC LSC Nairobi has since 2016 played an essential role in hosting HELM students, which are facilitated by Haydn Sandvig, who is a facility member and the Director of International Business for LLA, he also a member and advisor for the HLA, and an Ambassador for the Institute of Supply Chain Management (IoSCM). Both HLA and IoSCM endorse the HELM sessions.

During their visit to the LSC Nairobi, students interacted with practical aspects of Supply Chain, Warehousing, Fleet Management, Medial Logistics and Quality Assurance practices. This interaction allowed students to connect theory and practice and learn from the best practices exhibited at the LSC Nairobi. The quarterly visits will also be beneficial for exchanging knowledge and experiences between the students and LSC staff, given that many of the students are practicing in their home countries. A video (posted in the HLA Member Zone) captures one of the visits that occurred recently on May 13 2022, where learners got the chance to visit various departments, observe real-time processes ask questions and interact with different members.

Supply chains were disrupted before the war in Ukraine “Even before COVID-19 reduced incomes and disrupted supply chains, chronic and acute hunger were on the rise due to various factors, including conflict, socio-economic conditions, natural hazards, climate change and pests.” May 24, World Bank

What will happen now that there are less than 10 weeks of global wheat supply?

“Global wheat inventories currently stand at about 10 weeks of global consumption, a food supply expert said during a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council on May 19.” May 23,

A perfect storm

Common causes of humanitarian disasters are: political unrest and conflict, environmental causes, healthcare emergencies, population displacement, hunger and malnutrition and lack of basic services. More than ever before this constellation of crises has created challenges that can only be solved by doing things better and differently from before.

A lot of attention has been given to the war in Ukraine. Not because it is the only war going on, but because the sheer scale and speed of internally displaced and people on the move has dwarfed anything seen in our lifetimes. And although most of the largest NGOs in the world are headquartered in Europe most of their work is done in other continents. Many were caught with their supply chain pants down.

And what will happen now that the war in Ukraine has created a perfect storm in food insecurity? The private sector is rushing to find solutions to this problem, but we know that the most vulnerable will suffer the most, and they had no margin of error. These complex crises are compounding, and the humanitarian sector needs to up its game.

Responding to crisis requires a coordinated response – across agencies, organizations, governments, borders and sectors. Moving critical and lifesaving supplies requires tools and platforms that until today did not exist. Organizations like the World Food Program do a great job with their supply chain and logistics but their platform is not open to all of the countless other oganizations that are required for these responses.

trellyz designed its platform to provide the multi-entity, location-based coordination to all actors in the public service and humanitarian space. Its RefAid app is being used by 8,000 organizations in 41 countries to disseminate information about critical services. But the only way to get the critical services need to people who need it most is to increase visibility of needed supplies and potential donations of goods. trellyz launched its Logistics Hub with this goal in mind.

Call to action: If you have or know of donations in kinds, supplies that are available anywhere in the world to aid organizations and those helping provide resources to the humanitarian supply chain, get an account now. If your organization, or one you know needs supplies, get an account to list these requests now. If you offer logistics and freight forwarding, please register to offer these to those with offers or requests. The trellyz Logistics Hub has a super easy user experience and its possible to use the platform exclusively for your own organization or trusted partners in a small network is supporting the use of the platform for the Ukraine crisis, but there are so many more uses. And we are here to help, with the active support of our Logistics Alliance members: HLA, WCA (WorldCargo Alliance), Microsoft, Distribute Aid and DEMAC.

During the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Weeks (HNPW), HLA ran a session on local procurement. This session brought together participants from a wide range of organisations in Geneva and around the world.  

Shorter supply chains have long been a big topic in the humanitarian community. Buying supplies locally instead of flying them in from abroad can support the economy in a crisis-affected area while at the same time being more efficient and environmentally friendly. However, many questions and issues remain. The new Local Procurement Learning Partnership (LPLP) focuses on these.

Rebekah Yore introduced participants to the LPLP. Its first proposed project is the establishment of a local supplier register, a shared database hosted by HLA that will promote easier and more effective local procurement. LPLP will also gather evidence of the impact of using local procurement to support beneficiary communities and establish baseline metrics for local procurement spend, aiming to move towards making procurement a part of programming. Finally, LPLP will address compliance and quality barriers that local suppliers and manufacturers experience. 


The impact of COVID-19

According to Daniel Birungi (Uganda Manufacturing Association) “the COVID pandemic forced a pivoting of procurement due to limitations in access to global supply chains. The silver lining out of the COVID pandemic on the international sourcing front was in the realization that capacity exists to supply several of the items previously sourced globally. Today’s story is a mixed bag though as the opening up of logistical limitations is seeing some pivoting back into the pre-covid mentality and reinforcement of the (often) restrictive procurement guidelines.” This echoes findings from a study by HLA intern and King’s College London student Caoimhe Macgabbhan who recently published her report entitled “Localisation in the Aid Logistics Sector: Perceptions, Challenges, and Opportunities”. 

Claire Travers presented her recent research. This included supply chain disruptions experienced in the humanitarian aid sector in 2020 and highlighted the variety of issues encountered. A majority of interviewees reported experiencing unpredictable pricing, an inability to source, purchase, or receive items, increased lead times, and quality concerns when items were finally delivered. 

Given the likelihood of future large-scale disruptions, Daniel Birungi called for “inbuilt targets for local procurement that are reviewed and updated regularly” to “build resilience into international humanitarian procurement practices by pushing ever-increasing levels of local procurement”.  Participants agreed that this was an important consideration. 


Societal impact

Susan Hodgson (Save the Children International) highlighted that local procurement “has to be better than moving stock internationally and reducing local economy” and “can benefit socially by providing jobs, better standards of living etc.”. This opinion was widely shared in the room. Wojciech Piotrowicz (HUMLOG Institute), who is an advisor to the Government Centre for Security in Poland, highlighted the pointlessness of shipping items that are freely available in Poland there to help refugees from Ukraine. 

Daniel Birungi pointed out that “from the perspective of a host community on the refugee front, local procurement is also a fast-track method of ensuring community buy in”. John Jal (YSAT), who represents a refugee-led organisation, highlighted their involvement in the COVID-19 response with vital products like handwashing stations. 

Susan Hodgson agreed that community involvement is important, “including diverse groups, female owned businesses, community businesses, not just large ones or suppliers based in capital cities but how we can drive a really local approach”. This tied into a wider debate about how “local” local procurement should be. In the session, it was agreed that the key measure should be that the money stays in the area.

As a further advantage of local procurement, its potentially lower environmental impact was highlighted in the session. However, Susan Hodgson cautioned that “local may not always be greener, and we need to address this”. Daniel Birungi believes that local procurement is “a good driver of sustainability and sustainable sourcing”. Susan Hodgson added that by sourcing more locally, organisations can “help local suppliers to drive greener solutions”. 


Lingering concerns

John Jal highlighted the difficulties his organisation faced in “getting the funds approved to be used by YSAT to innovate a unique solution for the pandemic”. He stated that YSAT was faced with mistrust and “the technical rigidity with internal procurement systems, fear of the unknown, and the top-down procurement policy”. Participants agreed that these are common issues they have seen across multiple contexts. 

Daniel Birungi pointed out that in his experience “complaints always arise around the complexity of the procurement systems and the fact that most INGOs do centralized procurement with decisions made quite far from the local context”. Many organisations are now decentralising their processes. 

Cost savings are a key argument for centralised, global procurement. Higher up-front cost for buying local can be off-putting.  However, the ability to source replacement parts or service items throughout their whole lifecycle must also be considered. In areas that are hard to reach, this can be a real challenge unless supplies and expertise are available locally. 

There were also questions about compliance with standards and the difficulties of gaining reliable information on local suppliers and their performance. Safeguarding was highlighted as one crucial concern to avoid local procurement driving practices such as child labour. Daniel Birungi highlighted that “there already exists significant local capacity to vet compliance to international best practices and this must be the bare minimum requirement for getting a foot into the international procurement landscape”.

While there was wide agreement that local procurement should be increased, many open questions remain. The LPLP offers a forum for those working in this area to come together to exchange experiences and find ways to overcome issues. 

- Dr Sarah Schiffling, Senior Lecturer in Supply Chain Management, Liverpool John Moores University


Learn more about the Local Procurement Learning Partnership by visiting their dedicated page on the new HLA website.