Helping the Helpers

071203-M-3095K-030 SOUTHERN BANGLADESH (Dec. 03, 2007)  Bangladeshis help onload boxes of food to a waiting CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) (Special Operations Capable) at Barisal Airfield. The Marines are providing helicopter airlift support for the relief efforts in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Sidr. The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) and the embarked elements of the 22nd MEU (SOC) arrived off the coast of Bangladesh Nov. 23 to assist in the relief efforts in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Sidr. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ezekiel R. Kitandwe (Released)

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By Bublu Thakur – Weigold, Jonas Stumpfand Stephan Wagner

Hardly a month goes by without the world witnessing disasters somewhere around the globe, be it typhoon, earthquake, flood, etc. After the disasters, campaigns to help the refugees are everywhere, generating a generous amount of money to be spent on humanitarian effort. However, research indicates that 40% of 80% of the money that are used by the logistics team does not fulfill its intended purpose, and instead goes to waste. It is easy to accuse that corruption or incompetence is the cause of the loss, but that is not the case. The loss is caused by inefficiencies: process dysfunction, silo behavior, redundant work,and communication breakdown.

To tackle the inefficiencies, The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and the Kühne Foundation’s HELP Logistics AG held supply chain trainings aimed for humanitarian workers in several countries. The tool used in the trainings was a classic supply chain learning tool, the beer game. With different education background and culture, the training reveals that communication problem like distrust, misunderstanding, poor visibility, and bad information flow. To make this condition better, it is imperative to changing the habit of communicating with just order slips or reports to improved collaboration with well-managed information flows.