Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Why don’t we play by the rules?

April 2, 2013 Leave a comment

by Jock Menzies, President, American Logistics Aid Network

I participated in a panel on Private-Public partnering in disaster response earlier this week in Washington. The panel following featured academics and representatives of the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) community, the groups usually providing the survivors needed services. One of the academics held out that a significant issue is the failure of groups and individuals to understand and abide by the established “roles and responsibilities” that responders have. With this thinking we leave the Red Cross and Salvation Army to “mass care” functions, food supply to Feeding America and other groups have their functional silos.

Would that it were so. “Ready, fire, aim” is very much the mode in our social media powered GIS and web enabled world. In the Superstorm Sandy response a de novo group “Occupy Sandy” became a serious player deploying more than 65,000 volunteers and quickly raising more than a million dollars. Government agencies and the VOAD community are coming to terms with this new dynamic. In fact it is likely not that new but just more visible and with technology more scale-able.

Agility isn’t easy for government, established VOAD’s or we in business. Structure is important and there are formal protocols that have been shared and adopted nationally regarding how to manage large “incidents.” Nevertheless we are seeing an evolution in this space as in the rest of our worlds. FEMA now comes to ALAN to ask us to help Occupy Sandy with logistics support needs. The Red Cross has developed a program for “Community Volunteers” to enroll the capacity of spontaneous volunteers’ eager to help their neighbors.

Stay tuned as we learn to better channel the goodwill and caring that flows from these “extreme events.” For a real challenge sort out how to stem or put to good use the 2nd Disaster of spontaneous donations of inappropriate stuff that gums up straining supply channels after these events.


Report issued on Japan disaster logistics; volunteer needs posted; unique person to person relief efforts – Update 4/18

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

ALAN is providing updates on the Japan logistics situation from Ms. Hikaru Kajita, a CSCMP member in Japan. ALAN continues to work with our partners to support the relief efforts in Japan. Additional information on ALAN is available at

“It has come to often take up the volunteer work with TV.

“Fumbaro” East Japan Support Project has very unique scheme. One volunteer in the stricken city gather support goods request, who want what and their address, and send e-mail to the project office. Project office ask anyone to support the request via blog, twitter, or amazon. And someone send the requested things direct to the person that they request. The project started at Sanriku-Takada town, and the object cities has extended gradually. Since one month or more passes from the earthquake, what for the victim hopes now shifts to the one used in usual life, like outer wear, child-seat, or toys.

Japan Civil Network for Disaster Relief in East Japan is a portal site which can search where, which work that volunteer is needed.

Nittsu Research Institute and Consulting, which is a subsidiary of Nippon Express, issued the logistics report “The Way of ‘Disaster Logistics’ for Large and Wide Area Earthquake”. It issued part 1 this time, and it will continue to the next report.”

ALAN update March 19

March 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Feeding America warns of Mid-West flooding needs

Feeding America suggests there may be needs for donations of personal care items, cleaning and disinfecting products, and food items based on the likelihood of flooding in the Mid-West.

 Sanitation in the rainy season likely next Haiti issue

 ALAN VP Richard Sharpe attended a meeting Wednesday hosted by Safe America and Emory University organized to discuss the current gaps in the Haitian Disaster Relief efforts.  Multiple urgent needs were discussed including the need for shelter, especially as the Hurricane season approaches, water purification and child protection issues. 

  A CDC expert on disease control raised the issue of sanitation.  Make-shift latrines have been created in the temporary camps throughout the island and reports are that they are far from adequate.  This problem is only going to get worse once the rainy season starts which can lead to multiple catastrophic disease related outbreaks (dysentery, cholera, etc.).  With the people being confined to very little space in these camps, the situation being discussed has the making for the perfect storm. 

  We hope to identify what specific needs the above situation may require. As with many of the disaster related needs for Haiti, the timing for response is critical.

 ALAN in Haiti

 I will visit Haiti for a week starting this Sunday. The Hands on Disaster Response group ( offered ALAN a place to stay and base camp in Leogane. We have made contact with the Red Cross and several other NGO’s on the ground that I will visit. I also expect to attend the UN’s Logistics Cluster meetings.

 Academic community and ALAN

 Today ALAN VP Mark Richards and I participated in a conference call with the Supply Chain Institute and the Responsible Enterprise Institute of San Diego University. They wish to work with ALAN and other universities regarding humanitarian logistics.

 Tomorrow I participate in an all day meeting hosted by the Universities of Louisiana, Virginia, North Carolina and Michigan State billed as a “Circle of Experts.” ALAN and representatives of FEMA, the American Red Cross, UPS, SYSCO, the Center for Advanced Purchasing Studies, the military (NORTHCOM) and the Aidmatrix Foundation will participate in this small group discussion

 Jock Menzies President

American Logistics Aid Network

“Why didn’t they…?” March 6

March 7, 2010 Leave a comment

Especially since Hurricane Katrina the “Government,” FEMA, the military, USAID, and large NGO’s have faced this question. In considering this other questions must be addressed

  • “Could they?” Probably not.
  • “Should they? Yes and No.
  • “Would we want them to? No.
  • “What would it mean if they?” A step backwards.

 Thinking primarily about possible government roles I note the following;

  • Separations of power between national elements of government and states restrict when and how US agencies engage.
  • Government agencies are encumbered by mandated processes.
  • Coordination across governmental silos and political pressures are factors.
  • Unlike NGO’s the government can not ask for donations for its use.
  • Assets, human and otherwise, available from government agencies, play a valuable role.
  • Government structures help control, coordinate, organize and regulate NGO relief efforts.
  • Volunteers trained and operating within the frameworks offered by NGO’s could not be replicated by a standing or contracted force.
  • Were we to create the expectation that disaster response was “covered” by government agencies or contracted service providers we would tragically marginalize our NGO community.
  • It is the nature of disasters that no structure; public, non profit or private is a substitute for individual preparedness in the 1st days following an event.
  • The critical endpoint is to get communities back to self sufficiency. This happens when their structures are again in place and outside supports depart. Governmental structures have a way of persisting.
  • We would not want to bear the cost of setting aside 100% of the resources “just in case” and do better preparing for base case contingencies and planning to fill the gaps.

 The opportunity to draw of the resources of the Supply Chain community is critical. Once the initial impact has been absorbed a disaster is defined by and continues because of failed Supply Chains. Resilience is a function of being able to stand up alternatives rapidly. Studies have shown that just as there is the “magic hour” that the shock trauma medical field works within so is there a short period of time for the social and economic structures to be reestablished if a community is to recover.

 Work to date is about visibility & networks ALAN has:

  • Made connections between NGO’s and identified partnering opportunities
  • Researched and shared donation, commercial and hybrid options with NGO’s
  • Promoted donations to NGO’s with likely needs
  • Connected needs with donors
  • Provided an industry window for NGO’s and visa versa
  • Connected NGO’s to potential business partners, ideally local to the NGO
  • Made connections between individuals with operating responsibilities in the disaster area.

 ALAN has a start. We have a respected presence in the governmental agency and NGO worlds. We sit on a technical platform which continues to evolve and to be adopted in the US (now 46 states) and internationally. We have an incredible industry association base. We have the opportunity to serve those with needs and enrich those who participate. We have opportunities to do much more.

 Thanks for your help.

Jock Menzies, ALAN president