News / Africa

Logistics Complicate Food Aid Transport to Somalia

Newly arrived Somali refugee women receive relief food at a the World Food Program distribution center at the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, August 1, 2011
Newly arrived Somali refugee women receive relief food at a the World Food Program distribution center at the Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, near the Kenya-Somalia border, August 1, 2011

The logistics of transporting aid to famine-stricken Somalia is daunting.  Meticulous planning and funding are needed for such a massive effort. Kenya is serving as a transit point for the emergency and longer-term supplies being into Somalia, with the past month seeing a stream of shipments by air, road, and sea.  

It’s been a busy month for the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF. As the number of starving people has increased in Somalia, the agency has been scrambling to collect and deliver life-saving aid.

"We try and buy locally, in Nairobi, when we can, but obviously with the crisis as large as this we are looking to bring in supplies from other parts of the world," said Shantha Bloemen, spokesperson for UNICEF Somalia, based in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. "UNICEF has its supply division in Copenhagen.  So we’ve already had, in the last few weeks, four full charter flights, 747, carrying about 350 tons of supplies into Nairobi, and then they’ll go either by ship, road, or air into Somalia.”

In total, UNICEF Somalia transported 2,000 metric tons of aid into Somalia during the month of July.

Such an operation requires strategic thinking, taking into consideration travel times, transportation infrastructure, security, and needs of the people on the ground.

Some 10 tonnes of relief food from the World Food Program (WFP) is unloaded from a plane after it landed in Mogadishu airport, July 27, 2011
Some 10 tonnes of relief food from the World Food Program (WFP) is unloaded from a plane after it landed in Mogadishu airport, July 27, 2011

Airlifts are the most expensive option, while ships are the cheapest and can hold the most cargo. Bloemen says chartered flights are reserved primarily for therapeutic foods and other emergency supplies designed to save severely malnourished children immediately.

“If you’re shipping, for example, corn-soya blend, which is a rich, nutritious supplementary food, and it has to come from India, it’s going to take 20 days by ship and 40 days from Europe.  So these are the time lags - you need to make sure that your supply pipeline is working so that you don’t run out at the feeding center," Bloeman said.

Much of the food and other aid destined for Somalia enters Kenya through airports in Nairobi or the port city of Mombasa.

At the Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya, families fleeing the famine in Somalia receive aid, but also face new challenges. VOA's Michael Onyiego visited the camp and took these pictures.

At the end of July and the beginning of August, the World Food Program airlifted 82 tons of specialized supplementary food into the Somali capital.  The food is earmarked to feed 28,000 malnourished children for one month.

The food originally came from France and was subsequently flown into Mogadishu on six flights.

“The size of the plane that would take off from France is most likely too large and there would be insurance issues in terms of being able to get it into Mogadishu because of the facilities in the airport there and the security environment in the airport, so we bring it from the origin place, wherever that is, to Nairobi," explained World Food Program spokesperson Challis McDonough, as she described why the cargo came through Kenya.

She explained that the food was re-packaged so that it would fit onto smaller planes that could land safely at the airport in Mogadishu.

McDonough says that some Somali sea ports are also not designed to accommodate large ships, either being too shallow or lacking the necessary facilities.  She says her agency sometimes has to use smaller ships when transporting food.  Ports are located in Mogadishu, Bossasso, Berbera, and Hargeisa.

The World Food Program started shipping food recently after a three-month hiatus, due to a lack of funding.  McDonough says a large shipment to Mogadishu in July has enabled the agency to increase activities they had to cut back because of shortages.

A view of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) ship, MV Fidel (in the background) in the high seas of the Indian Ocean, off the Somalia coastline (2009 file photo)
A view of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) ship, MV Fidel (in the background) in the high seas of the Indian Ocean, off the Somalia coastline (2009 file photo)

A naval escort always accompanies World Food Program ships to protect them from attacks by pirates. Somali waters are among the most dangerous in the world because of pirate hijackings.

One Mombasa-based company, Mokatu Shipping Agency, has been transporting food aid to Mogadishu without an escort. Managing director Karim Kudrati says doing so is risky, but he thinks trucking food and other aid is much more problematic.

“The roads are not good, plus there are quite a lot of problems going through the borders and you have these clans always wanting to loot the vehicles,” said Kudrati.

He says he thinks piracy in the Mombasa-Mogadishu corridor has come to a virtual standstill because of a large number of naval boats escorting African Union vessels.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid