A year after calling for the creation of a system to collect real-time data for the deployment of aid to humanitarian crises areas, Princess Haya has announced the launch of the Humanitarian Logistics Data Bank.
Princess Haya, chairperson of the International Humanitarian City (IHC), made the announcement at the World Government Summit in Dubai, just weeks after donating a “significant” sum to the World Food Program to support its Dubai warehouse, which acts as a ‘first response’ hub for global emergencies.
"The Humanitarian Logistics Data Bank will facilitate the real-time collection of data for the deployment of aid in impacted regions,” Princess Haya told delegates on Sunday.
“Realisation of the humanitarian logistics data bank’s incredible potential will depend on dedication, determination and drive, not only of the organisations within the humanitarian sector, but of individuals,” she added.
The data bank will overcome one of the major hurdles that various international aid organisations face when a humanitarian crisis or disaster begins to unfold. Namely, that it can take up to 24 hours for emergency response hubs such as those in Dubai and elsewhere to get an accurate picture of what is needed on the ground.
According to Stefano Peveri, a senior logistic officer at the World Food Program and the UN Humanitarian Response Depot Dubai manager, many of the processes of data collection are manual. A regional office in the affected area will inform the head office of the unfolding disaster, and the regional hubs are then informed.
“The WFP aims to have the assessment of needs and the funds made available for transport within 24 to 48 hours of being alerted,” he said. It can then take another 12 to 24 hours to get the first shipments of aid on the ground in the affected region.
According to Marie-Laure de Quina Hoff, logistics manager for the Dubai Office of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), they’re able to support 5,000 people with tents, blankets and cooking utensils overnight from their Dubai hub in the IHC.
“We do a lot of pre-positioning and preparedness of supplies here, in case we want to send it out to somewhere else in the world,” she says. “We gather stocks from different suppliers around the world and consolidate it here in Dubai for crisis response.”
“Our Dubai operation is the first line of response to developing situations,” agrees Soliman Mohamed Daud, senior global supply officer at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
But having to rely on third or fourth hand information about developing disasters puts these Dubai-based humanitarian logistics hubs at a huge disadvantage, especially when they are running a supply chain that is, essentially, constantly primed for an emergency.
Manual processes and data collection leads to inefficiency and incorrect supplies being sent, which Princess Haya told delegates at the World Government Summit last year is unacceptable.
“If we do not act now, we will lose our humanity, and this is a disaster greater than any other physical disaster,” she said.
Princess Haya is the wife of Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. She works closely with the World Food Program, which assists more than 80 million people in 80 countries every year, delivering food assistance and improving nutrition.
From its Dubai hub alone it is able to feed 1.5-million people daily. The World Food Program is one of several UN and other NGO aid groups that are provided free logistics facilities at the International Humanitarian City in Dubai.
The non-profit, independent free zone was created by Sheikh Mohammed in 2003.