Building Capacity of Supply Chain Professionals in Humanitarian Crisis Settings: Relief International

December 22nd, 2021 | Viewpoint

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Soro Charles, Relief International

For the past four years, Soro Charles has worked with Relief International in South Sudan. As a senior procurement officer, he provides health logistics services for Sudanese refugees living in camps in Upper Nile State, as well as for surrounding indigenous communities. Mr. Charles began his career in 2010, working for Save the Children as a field logistician in one of the most remote areas of South Sudan. Since then, he has worked with various organizations in positions ranging from field logistics to procurement both in urban and rural as well as emergency and non-emergency settings.

During the past year, more than 50 staff from Relief International have participated in USAID’s supply chain capacity-building programs, which included online courses and webinars.

In August 2021, Mr. Charles attended a workshop in Nairobi, where he learned about important supply chain management tools. “The workshop really opened my mind and provided me with skills and techniques that I had not studied in my institutions of learning,” said Mr. Charles. “The skills I learned were more practical and there was brainstorming where participants also contributed and talked about the current context in both emergency and stable settings.”

One of the topics that was most helpful was electronic logistics management information systems (eLMIS). Moving to an eLMIS system can facilitate access to real-time data and improve data visibility while providing information to forecast, plan, and monitor commodities and reduce the number of emergency procurements. After the workshop, Mr. Charles shared what he had learned with his country team colleagues and management. They discussed how adopting eLMIS is a strategic decision requiring significant resources, and that managers are looking into new systems and procedures that can better track commodities along the supply chain. Mr. Charles added that Relief International currently operates a manual system for procurement and inventory management but plans to pilot more automated systems for inventory management and eventually systems to support procurement through payment.

Mr. Charles also spoke of the challenges of procuring medical supplies within South Sudan due to a lack of assessment tools to evaluate pharmaceutical suppliers that import quality-assured products. The workshop allowed Mr. Charles to network with colleagues on important issues like access to suppliers and standard medicines lists.

The Building Capacity to Improve Pharmaceutical and Medical Commodity Management in Humanitarian and Disaster Settings Project helps staff from international and local nongovernmental organizations manage pharmaceutical and medical commodities through training, guidance, resources, and follow-up support. The project is funded by USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and managed by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc.

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