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HRH The Princess Royal launches new initiative to help improve disaster relief

HRH The Princess Royal joined leading figures from the humanitarian and logistics sectors yesterday to launch a joint initiative and ‘three point’ collaboration plan aimed at improving the effectiveness of emergency aid.

Speaking at Tuesday’s inaugural ‘Humanitarian Logistics Summit’ at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the first event of its kind to bring together more than 100 expert logisticians from a wide spectrum of professional backgrounds, HRH The Princess Royal endorsed the joint initiative and stressed the urgent need to recognise the importance of effective logistics during major disasters.

HRH said: "While the 2004 Asian tsunami was a wake-up call for the aid community regarding the need for better coordination between NGOs, the UN, donors, the military and governments, this has in fact been a massive challenge since the huge famine response operations of the mid-eighties in Ethiopia and Sudan.

"Although reviews of the effectiveness of humanitarian interventions following major disasters have been conducted, it is vitally important that the role of logistics in responding to emergencies is recognised and supported across the aid sector. As Patron and President of two of the organisations represented here today, I am delighted to be part of this important step."

Hosted by the Forum for Humanitarian and Emergency Logistics Professionals (HELP) of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport CILT(UK), the Humanitarian Logistics Association (HLA) and disaster relief charity RedR UK – the summit agreed a joint initiative including necessary steps to ensure improvement in three key areas of humanitarian logistics:

·Improve professional development for humanitarian logisticians
·Improve technical support services for logisticians working in the field and
·Improve benchmarking, metrics and value chain analysis.

The initiative involves leading aid agencies, logisticians from leading private sector companies, academics and donors.

George Fenton, Chairman of the Humanitarian Logistics Association, said: "Given the growing scale, scope and frequency of disasters, there is a huge need to professionalise the aid sector, particularly with regard to logistics. We hope that this event will help us highlight the pressing need for a global community of humanitarians working in logistics – and kick start a debate about what we need to do to improve effectiveness and foster innovation during major disasters. Taken together, we believe these measures will improve the lives of people affected by emergencies worldwide."

He added: "With the right support, humanitarian logisticians can become leaders in the cost-effective delivery of the right aid to the right place at the right time."

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