"I feel motivated when I realized that those supplies that I count and coordinate save child’s life"

Since day one of the pandemic, the logistics and supply team has been there to provide support. It is thanks to them that all the materials and supplies distributed by UNICEF Venezuela reach the children who need them

Alí Terán, UNICEF Venezuela Supply and Logistics Associate
Alí, a UNICEF Venezuela Supply and Logistics Associate, at a dispatch day at the main UNICEF warehouse in Caracas.
UNICEF Venezuela2020/Párraga
22 March 2021

Caracas, March 2021 - I started working at UNICEF a little over two years ago. At that time I was part of the initial team, which later became the logistics and supply section of the Caracas office. Since then, I've seen how our operation has increasingly expanded its reach and with it its ability to bring vital supplies and materials to the children and adolescents across the country who need them most.

I am from the city of Maracaibo, in western Venezuela. I’m an industrial engineer by profession. I moved with my family to Caracas to be involved in this important project, motivated to make a difference in my country. Without a doubt, being part of the UNICEF team has changed my life.

I am responsible for managing the incoming and outgoing inventory/stock of the main UNICEF warehouse in Caracas. In 2020 alone we handled just over 1,700 tonnes of supplies. All these supplies come to us through the country's ports and airports. We also buy some from or with local suppliers. At the warehouse we receive everything we need to run our health, nutrition, education, protection, water, hygiene and sanitation programmes.

My daily tasks include coordinating, scheduling and organizing the supplies that arrive in the country; they then pass through the warehouse before being dispatched to different hospitals, schools and outpatient clinics, or to our implementing partners, in short, wherever they are required so they can reach every child. This involves careful coordination and monitoring with my colleagues in the field office warehouses in the states of Tachira, Bolívar, Zulia and Gran Caracas, where UNICEF has a permanent presence, transport teams and implementing partners.

At the warehouse we receive supplies such as educational kits (notebooks, bags and pencils), supplies for child nutrition (nutritional micronutrient), hygiene items, health supplies and equipment, as well as medicines, in short, all the supplies required to meet the needs of children and adolescents, especially the most vulnerable.

Alí and José, who is part of the water, sanitation and hygiene team, check supplies as they arrive at the warehouse in Caracas.
UNICEF Venezuela2020/Párraga
Alí and José, who is part of the water, sanitation and hygiene team, check supplies as they arrive at the warehouse in Caracas.

In these two years with the organization, the biggest challenge has been managing the logistics of distribution in the midst of the pandemic. Taking care of myself and everyone else in the supply distribution network is paramount. When the pandemic began, I started working from home with occasional visits to the warehouse when required. Later on, it became necessary to be there in person. When I have to come to the warehouse I, and the rest of the team, take the necessary biosafety measures to protect ourselves and the supplies. It has been very challenging because logistics and supply transportation involves dealing with drivers and suppliers, doing inventory counts, monitoring loads, and so on, but it can be done.

We have also had to adapt to the measures restricting the movement of vehicles, which are necessary to avoid the spread of infection, so we have had to be very strategic when prioritizing deliveries. Drivers must have negative PCR tests before setting off to make deliveries to all corners of the country. But in the face of challenges, we always try to find a solution. We learned to coordinate with suppliers, warehouse employees and partners in the field remotely and with biosafety protocols; we all had to learn. It was something innovative and new.

Despite the difficulties, it is wonderful to feel that I can support UNICEF’s work in my country. I feel motivated when I realized that those supplies  and materials that I spend my time counting and checking on an Excel spreadsheet and coordinating with the drivers are going to, potentially, save a child’s life, or reach a family that needs them.