How Dubai's initiative fills gap in aid supply

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) The recently launched Humanitarian Logistics Data Bank will avoid the duplication of aid resources and help relief agencies save money, an expert said.

Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and chairperson of IHC, had launched the data bank earlier in February during the World Government Summit.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Giuseppe Saba, CEO of International Humanitarian City, said the online platform records available aid stock, exported stock and the countries the relief items have reached, with a summary of contributions of each government.

The data bank is aimed to help governments in emergencies resulting from conflicts or natural disasters to access real-time information and seek help from the nearest country with needed stock.

How the logistics data bank helps nations

The Humanitarian Logistics Data Bank will combine all of it from different countries into one platform even though information about available humanitarian aid has been fragmented, according to Giuseppe Saba, CEO of International Humanitarian City.

"During emergencies, governments and relief agencies would call up different countries to ask for help and state the type of stock they need. The process used to take a long time. But now with the data bank, governments will have immediate access to the type of stock available in different countries," Saba said.

He added: "The key is to provide countries in emergencies with the opportunity to seek immediate help from the nearest government and explore the stocks available to select the aid items required."

The bank came with efforts of 70 UN agencies and international organisations and will also allow global mapping of available relief items, which will help avoid the duplication of resources sent to conflict zones.

"A lot of times, you have excess of blankets for example and low numbers of medicine or shelter. The bank will help governments place their resources effectively and save money," said Saba on the sidelines of Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition (Dihad)

In Dubai's footsteps

While Dubai has already gone live with its information directly derived from Dubai Customs to keep track of exported aid stock, Saba said the system will be duplicated in 10 other countries by the end of this year.

The platform that was displayed during Dihad showed that the UAE has $43.5 million of aid available for reach, including food, shelter, telecommunications, health and education.

The countries, which include Panama, will have the opportunity to register their information from their concerned agencies on the online platform to keep track of their stock and value.

The information-exchange platform will be accessible to governments and humanitarian agencies. More than donation, he said the platform provides information, which is the main element to sustaining aid in an effective way that saves money and optimises resources at a time where agencies are facing international foreign aid cuts.

"Today, we are talking about impact more than the donations themselves. We need to provide items today that will still be of use tomorrow, and we will not be able to do that without information," said Saba.

Held under the theme 'Sustainability in Emergency Aid,' Dihad has brought together over 60 agencies and companies to work on a roadmap for humanitarian assistance. The conference ends today.

During her opening speech on Monday, Haya emphasised developing effective strategies that will help governments to foresee and react to crises before they turn into emergencies.

The UAE has spent $65 million in response to humanitarian aid in 2017 to 91 countries including Bangladesh, Iraq, Yemen and Sudan. Last year, $9.8 million were to Bangladesh, of which $6.8 million were spent on shelter alone. The UAE has provided 13 flights of aid carrying 1,300 tonnes of water, health, food and telecommunications to Bangladesh.

Sherouk Zakaria "Born and raised in UAE, Sherouk Zakaria is a Senior Correspondent at Khaleej Times. Joined since May 2016, she covers Dubai Municipality, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), special events and humanitarian issues. Her choice of journalism as a career stems from her passion of telling people's stories and writing to inspire or make a difference. In her free time, she's an occasional theater and film actress. Sherouk received her BA in Mass Communications from the American University in Sharjah in 2013. Before joining Khaleej Times, she was a senior lifestyle/entertainment editor for a magazine in Dubai."


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