Ready to respond: UNICEF supply and logistics experts are deployed to emergencies across the world
They play a vital role in UNICEF’s ability to promptly scale up a supply response to multiple large-scale and rapidly developing emergencies.
UNICEF supply and logistics experts are frequently deployed to humanitarian emergencies across the world, helping to make sure that life-saving supplies are delivered to the children who need them most.
These deployments, called “surge deployment missions”, are vital to UNICEF’s ability to promptly scale up a supply response to multiple large-scale and rapidly developing emergencies.
From procurement of supplies, to setting up new warehouses, to distributing supplies and rebuilding schools and health facilities, these deployments bring technical expertise in supply and logistics right to the frontline, whenever and wherever they are needed.
In tribute to all humanitarian workers, here are the reflections of eight supply and logistics experts deployed to emergencies in 2022:
Deployed to Moldova to support the delivery of essential supplies for children fleeing the war in Ukraine.
"Being on a surge mission is a real opportunity to positively impact children’s lives during their worst moments and contribute to achieving UNICEF’s Core Commitment for Children by adhering to and acting on the principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality. It was a pleasure to work with a hardworking operations team and see how colleagues support each other during such challenging times."
Deployed to Burkina Faso to lead and guide the construction of more than 30 schools, and to advise on the supply of education-related products and services.
"I can write a book about the experience. Chapter 1 will be about one of the dozen schools where we delivered supplies under extreme pressure. Chapter 2 will be on the assessment of three oxygen plants. Chapter 3 will cover the launch of bidding and technical evaluations for construction works and long-term agreements (LTAs)* for school supplies. Chapters 4 and 5 will be on political changes and getting malaria. The final chapter will be about the inspiration of being in Burkina Faso for three months and understanding the lengths a humanitarian will go to achieve results for children."
Deployed to the Emergency Coordination Unit, Supply Division, to support the delivery of supplies for children and their families affected by the war in Ukraine.
"My deployment was a great opportunity to gain insight into supply and logistics operations in an emergency. I witnessed the passionate drive for results, and commitment of UNICEF colleagues around the world to bring a better life for children. Thanks to the nature of working in an emergency, I discovered my creative side and skills I didn’t know I had. You do not have time to doubt yourself, but instead, you just need to get things done efficiently and quickly."
Deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan, to support the local team in capacity building, and in the procurement and delivery of medicines and other urgently needed supplies.
"My deployment was a great and rewarding experience, both personally and professionally. A lesson learnt is to go prepared with clear terms of reference to start working from day one – but also be flexible, depending on the needs on the ground. I had the best opportunity to learn, plan and act in a delicate situation. During the mission, I found I had developed new skills, and I hope to have an opportunity to help again."
Deployed to support the UNICEF team in Myanmar (remote support) in the response to the enduring humanitarian and human rights crisis in the country.
"I helped the Myanmar Country Office move forward on many issues, including implementing LTAs and contracts, which will allow them to respond to multiple emergencies in real-time. Supporting Myanmar remotely taught me many things, especially on time management, sustainability and using a shared knowledge management platform. We conducted and analyzed bids online and used e-signatures which are great for preserving the environment. I also got the opportunity to improve my English skills."
Deployed to UNICEF’s supply warehouse in Lviv, Ukraine to help with the delivery of supplies to women and children affected by the war in Ukraine.
"I was deployed to Ukraine in the first week of the conflict. It was very challenging because amidst ongoing conflict, colleagues and I had to work on everything from setting up new warehouses to completing paperwork for supplies and identifying local transportation options. The biggest lesson for me when supporting emergencies is that you must be open to working in hostile environments and take up new challenges because every day is different."
Deployed to Poland to support the UNICEF country team in the distribution of essential supplies for children fleeing the war in Ukraine.
"I was deployed to Warsaw to support the supply and procurement function. With support from the team there, I established LTAs for winterization supplies that needed to be pre-positioned in anticipation of the influx of Ukrainian refugees to Poland. The mission was both a challenging and rewarding experience."
Deployed to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A)/COVAX Governance and Coordination Secretariat, Supply Division
"This was my first deployment, and I was responsible for coordinating and executing regional and country engagements to drive solutions for product access, data visibility, technical assistance, and streamlined communications. It was an excellent opportunity to work closely with teams and partners across multiple regions and to serve as the internal voice of regions and countries in line with UNICEF priorities within the broader ACT-A partnership that supports the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines across the world. Understanding the programmatic and supply drivers made a positive difference in decision-making, communication and defining joint solutions to improve the supply of COVID-19 tools across country typologies."
* Long-term agreements (LTAs) are written agreements between UNICEF and suppliers for delivery of a product or service for a certain time.