Improving disaster relief in the Pacific

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Improving disaster relief in the Pacific

Deloitte New Zealand team up with Oxfam New Zealand through the Deloitte Humanitarian Innovation Program

Deloitte New Zealand created a supply chain and logistics framework to enable Oxfam New Zealand to reach remote communities in the Pacific Islands more effectively

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When Oxfam New Zealand  (‘Oxfam NZ’) responds to disasters in the Pacific, the agency faces an exceptionally challenging environment, with both the geography and the fragile infrastructure making it hard to reach vulnerable, remote island communities.

Deloitte New Zealand recently partnered with Oxfam New Zealand to co-create an innovative solution to this pressing issue, leveraging the latest business practices in supply chain and logistics to create a scalable, transferrable set of tools to support disaster response.

While a small organization, Oxfam NZ is responsible for delivering relief in several countries in the Pacific region. The Pacific region is made up of over 25,000 low lying islands; with a population of 2.3m living across approximately 15% of the globe’s surface. Oxfam’s main priority following a disaster is to get clean water, sanitation and hygiene packs to communities.

At least three Pacific Island countries are affected by cyclones each year as Rachael Le Mesurier, Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director, explains:  “Cyclones are becoming more frequent and more intense in the Pacific and communities need our help now, more than ever. We are always seeking to improve, and we wanted to answer a critical question:  are there ways for Oxfam NZ to get vital water and emergency supplies to Pacific communities following a disaster faster, and more efficiently? ”

Deloitte Consulting, New Zealand worked with Oxfam NZ to tackle this challenge.  Working collaboratively they used expertise and insight developed in the private sector to developed a logistics framework and management plans for disaster support and relief in the Pacific region. The framework will help Oxfam NZ reach affected communities with vital lifesaving supplies, faster. 

“The framework considers the movement of aid following a disaster from the point of purchase to the point of entry into the affected country. The framework was developed to improve the effectiveness of a response by reducing the costs, reducing the time, and improving the quantity and quality of aid”, says Deloitte NZ partner David Lovatt

The framework considers different elements that, when implemented together, will improve Oxfam NZ’s and other NGOs’ ability and capacity to respond.  These elements include:

  • A step-by-step guide in how to respond to a disaster:  The framework has been designed to be an active tool so that NGOs know what stage they are at in the response process and can easily prepare for what is required next. 
  • A register of risks and control methods:  This register includes what to look out for and consider in each step of the response process.
  • A disaster simulation tool:  A simulation tool (including imputing data on the country, population size, type of disaster, etc.) to forecast the type and quantity of aid required.
  • A set of metrics to measure the effectiveness:  Including quantity, quality, timeliness and cost of aid of both historic and future responses.
  • Improvement initiatives:  These complement the response process and improve Oxfam NZ’s overall capacity to respond to disasters in the future.  These initiatives include mapping of prepositioned stock, changing the way that aid packages are labelled to help with customs; establishing supplier arrangements for purchasing and/or donating aid in advance of a disaster; creating joint storage facilities with response partners; and building common processes for moving aid with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the New Zealand Defence Force.

“The support of Deloitte New Zealand meant that we could develop a world-class framework in a very short period of time. It also gave us an opportunity to engage with other NGOs as well as other parts of our own organisation to gain additional insight and refine the tools,” Rachael concluded.

While developed specifically for Oxfam NZ’s requirements, the framework has also been explicitly designed to be easily adapted for use by the wider NGO community.  Oxfam aims to scale the use of the tool within Oxfam and to NGOs across the Pacific region. The framework is being shared with Oxfam country offices in Vanuatu, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, and Australia. The framework has been shared with the NGO Disaster Relief Forum (NDRF) Aotearoa, a broader group of organizations that respond to disasters. The regional United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also received a detailed induction session on the logistics framework and its applicability within the Pacific.

The next cyclone is inevitable.  In the meantime, Oxfam NZ’s objective is to coordinate and collaborate with other regional NGOs to ensure an optimal response to disasters in the archipelago.  Oxfam NZ is spearheading a sector group to share the learnings with the wider humanitarian community, to enable them to act more cohesively in the wake of a disaster, and ultimately reach more people with lifesaving support.

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