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

December 9th, 2021 | Story

Isaac Waweru, International Rescue Committee

Isaac Waweru is a global pharmacy advisor with the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) hub in Nairobi, Kenya. He joined the humanitarian sector in 2010 and worked with Médecins Sans Frontières and Save the Children to support country teams in health logistics efforts. At IRC, Mr. Waweru develops guidelines and policies for pharmaceutical management, institutes best practices, and supports capacity building of IRC staff in 15 countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. He builds IRC’s in-country pharmacy staff capacity through field visits and quarterly webinars, and is in daily contact with colleagues in countries experiencing emergencies, such as South Sudan, Yemen, Syria, and Ethiopia, to see what support they need.

In August 2021, Mr. Waweru and two of his colleagues participated in a USAID-funded supply chain management workshop in Nairobi. After the workshop, they updated IRC supply chain policies and standard operating procedures. They are also using knowledge from the workshop to develop tools for quantification and supply planning. All these improvements will be rolled out to the countries in which IRC works.

Mr. Waweru schedules quarterly learning sessions with country-based pharmacists, training them on best practices in logistics management information systems (LMIS), inventory management, and other topics. Some of the most important areas for supply chain management is quantification and inventory management. Knowledge from the workshop also helped the IRC team to improve data use and visibility, and as a result, they are incorporating min/max stock monitoring into the logistics software being developed to avoid stockouts. “The workshop provided us with more insight about the importance of capturing data and ensuring that data is reliable and also real-time,” said Mr. Waweru.

Mr. Waweru recognized coordination as one of the most important aspects of humanitarian work so that all involved can harmonize and avoid duplication of response efforts. “The workshop was a good chance to network,” he noted, and he and his colleagues continue to benefit from the connections they made. “We are now in regular contact with colleagues from United Nations Population Fund and the International Organization for Migration, and we are helping each other in the areas where we operate.” Aside from the Nairobi workshop, staff members from IRC have participated in the project’s Blended Learning Course and various webinars and technical meetings.

The Building Capacity to Improve Pharmaceutical and Medical Commodity Management in Humanitarian and Disaster Settings Project improves the capacity of people who manage health supply chains in humanitarian crisis settings. It 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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