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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
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.

VOA Blogs