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RedR trains private sector logistics firms in disaster response

As part of a partnership between the private and humanitarian sectors, disaster relief training and recruitment charity RedR has recently completed a series of three global training events for personnel from a tri-corporate consortium consisting of UPS, TNT and Agility, in the basics of humanitarian response to disasters.

The consortium, which is known as the Logistics Emergency Team, is working with the World Food Programme (WFP), as part of the UN-backed logistics cluster – a system of coordination of response activated following a major emergency. The first training, for the European Emergency Team, took place in Düsseldorf, the second in Singapore for the Asia Emergency Team and the final training took place in Miami. All three were well received by participants.

David Tan who attended the first training in Düsseldorf , an experienced TNT Emergency Response Team member and Operations Manager for Singapore comments;

“The training gives you an in-depth view of what you can experience when assisting in an emergency: personal safety, health and multi-cultural communications are part of the preparations. And the golden rule: always expect the unexpected! My first time in the field was a unique experience and the training was a great foundation.”

The personnel selected for the trainings are those who would be called on from UPS, TNT and Agility to respond when a disaster occurs. As many of the personnel have little or no prior knowledge of disaster relief, the practical training provided by RedR is essential to equip them with the knowledge of how to use their skills in the field, ensuring that they can hit the ground running.

When responding to a disaster, the personnel will be involved in a number of activities including: warehousing, airport logistics, behind-the-scenes logistics and supply chain management. The staff might also be seconded to international aid agencies working in the area. The first time the Logistics Emergency Team has been called on to respond was following cyclone Nargis which swept through Myanmar on 2 May. The team was able to use its knowledge to assist the WFP increase the speed and efficiency of the aid distribution.

Perry Seymour, RedR's Training and Consultancies Manager, who has been organising the trainings comments; “The humanitarian and private sector both have lots to offer one another, they just need the opportunity to determine what those things are and to create the appropriate mechanisms for delivering them. In a time when the occurrence of disasters seems to be increasing, it's comforting to know that response efforts are increasing as well.”

Charity and private sector partnerships – a growing trend

Increasingly, private sector companies are forging partnerships with disaster relief organisations ready to donate money, supplies and personnel when the next emergency occurs. Alongside a company's Corporate Social Responsibility obligations, many feel that such partnerships are in response to the demands of a new generation which is more ethically and globally aware.

On 14 and 15 April 2008, The World Economic Forum held a meeting in Mexico, which looked at bringing together organisations from the humanitarian sector with private sector companies. The meeting highlighted that there are many ways in which the private sector could form partnerships with humanitarian actors and that there is a large demand from private companies to learn more about humanitarian response to disasters. A further meeting was held in Geneva on 9 September 2008.

Perry feels such relationships can be beneficial for all concerned; “We are happy to be working with this initiative, to promote a greater understanding between the international humanitarian community and the private sector. Such partnerships give companies the opportunity to 'put something back' and provide international relief organisations with additional expertise and a fresh perspective”.

Although there is some scepticism of private sector involvement, it is becoming more accepted – providing the relationship is well-managed and the companies are not profiting financially from the arrangement. Whatever people think, it is a trend that looks set to continue.


RedR is the leading training and recruitment charity for disaster relief. We provide training, consultancy and support to disaster relief agencies and their staff all over the world, increasing their effectiveness in the field. RedR ensures that skilled professionals are always available to respond when disasters occur, through the introduction of new relief workers into the sector and the placement of experienced relief workers.

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