Pan American Health Organisation - The DO'S and DON'TS of Humanitarian Supplies Management

Preparing and dispatching donated supplies This section provides detailed guidelines on preparing, dispatching and receiving supplies. This includes suggestions for preparing a packing list and recommendations for packaging goods. Packaging guidelines suggest that donors “make parcels of a weight, size, and form that can be handled by one person (between 25 kg – 50 kg maximum)”, and that they “pack supplies in separate parcels according to their nature (clothes, drugs, food, personal needs, etc.)”. The guidelines for labelling instruct the donor to “label visibly every parcel with the name, address and telephone of the sender and the consignee, and any other specific characteristics of the cargo: fragile, urgent, need refrigeration, etc.” Suggested documentation includes “information about the consignment (packing list, number of parcels, etc.), the means by which it was sent (type, company, characteristics, person in charge, etc.), its exact destination, arrival point and estimated time of arrival.” Two other important suggestions are made. Firstly, that donors “inform consignees about the dispatch of every single shipment.” Secondly that donors do not “send any supplies that have not been requested by the disaster-stricken country.” Receiving supplies These guidelines suggest that those receiving relief supplies use the “SUMA system”, developed by PAHO/WHO, to help “strengthen the preparedness and management capacity of the organisations who receive relief supplies”. It says that “SUMA helps countries effectively and transparently manage the large-scale influx of humanitarian supplies. The SUMA software and users manuals can be downloaded from SUMA’s Web site or requested from any WHO or PAHO office.” The SUMA system outlines effective procedures, such as assigning priorities to goods, and gives a classification system for relief goods.

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