A.P. Moller-Maersk and UPS have joined the Logistics Cluster, led by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), to undertake a Logistics Capacity Assessment in the African country of Nigeria, focusing on potential natural disasters and pandemics. Future assessments around the world will build on the results of this pilot project.

The Logistics Capacity Assessment examines standard logistics components such as roads, bridges, ports and airports, as well as issues such as milling capacity, quarantine procedures and telecoms infrastructure. The assessment also maps out disaster contingency plans, including for the movement of goods and supplies into and throughout the country. The lessons learned from these scenarios, it is hoped, could be life-saving in the case of a disaster or pandemic.

The Logistics Cluster, comprised of representatives from UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, acts a coordination mechanism for the logistical response during emergencies. A.P. Moller-Maersk and UPS, along with TNT Express and Agility, are members of the Logistics Emergency Teams (LETs), a cross-company partnership that supports humanitarian relief efforts during natural disasters.

“Preparation is key to a country’s ability to manage disasters of any kind,” says Eduardo Martinez, LET chair and UPS director of philanthropy and corporate relations. “With the data from the assessments, emergency responders will be better able to assess and manage the flow of goods to those in need.”

In 2011, the Logistics Cluster and the LETs worked together to provide humanitarian assistance to millions of people suffering from drought in the Horn of Africa. By providing the Logistics Cluster with airlifts of supplies and equipment, the LETs enabled the humanitarian community to reach those in need more quickly and efficiently. The LETs also assisted WFP’s relief support to the Government of Japan following the April 2011 tsunami.

Although WFP does not have any humanitarian operations in Nigeria, it supports the government in the fields of logistics and emergency preparedness. In May 2011, WFP and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote and reinforce the country’s emergency preparedness and response capacity.

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