Sending aid during an emergency is a big challenge. Runways could be destroyed, borders shut, or whole areas cut off by floods and landslides. The people you need to get the goods through — from airport staff to truck drivers — might be injured or frantically searching for loved ones. So we do all we can to speed things up.
Since then, we have always kept goods in stock and ready to go at a moment’s notice — although how we buy and store them has evolved over the years.
At first, supplies were kept in leased warehouses in Rotterdam, Holland. This made sense because after a global emergency, charter flights packed full of aid would head to the scene from airports around Europe.
But new regulations and rises in flight and storage costs soon made this option more expensive. What’s more, the stock we held was almost all made in Asia. Was it really efficient to ship all these goods to Europe?
Sharing gives us warehouses around the world
In 2009, we became a partner in the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot initiative.
This means we can keep goods at warehouses in six places hand-picked for good access to emergencies worldwide — Italy, Ghana, Malaysia, Panama, the United Arab Emirates, and the Canary Islands. Most of our stock is in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
We can also borrow from and share aid with other members of the initiative, including UN agencies and other charities.
The goods we hold in Dubai right now can get vital help to about 10,000 people. The whole lot should fit into one standard charter flight.
What are we holding in Dubai?
Plus: 2,000 construction ropes, 4,000 sleeping mats, 4,000 fleece blankets.
Local suppliers could be the answer
Even with a network of warehouses around the world, it might be quicker and cheaper to buy goods closer to the scene of emergency. Every crisis is different, so in each case, our experts make a quick decision on what’s best.
The items we send should fit what’s needed on the ground. Thin clothes or blankets won’t be much good in freezing weather, for example. We will only send supplies that are needed, and what we send meets a range of international standards.
In any case, stock from our warehouses will only be enough to kick-start our work. We’ll need to quickly buy more or send on goods provided by our partners. So we work hard to build strong links with suppliers before disasters happen, meaning we can buy the right goods fast. We ensure we know who can sell us what, and where those goods will be sent from. Plus, a good relationship might mean a slightly better price, and that means money left over to spend helping people in need.
Careful planning and years of experience mean next time an emergency strikes, Concern will be ready to go.