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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs