Since January 2016, Handicap International has worked to ensure that the most vulnerable people in Central African Republic receive the life-saving, life-enabling aid they need after three years of acute crisis. In a country where disease is rife, infrastructure is lacking, and half the population (2.3 million people) is in “dire need of assistance,” Handicap International’s logistics expertise fills a crucial gap, allowing humanitarian organizations to deliver aid the extra mile, despite sometimes harrowing road conditions. Cyril Chérie, Handicap International’s logistics project manager in Bangui, recently took time to tell us more.
What are Handicap International's logistics experts doing in Central African Republic?
In addition to repairing 13 airstrips throughout the country, we hired truck drivers, and set up transport hubs to help humanitarian actors such as the UN and other NGOs deliver essential items to the most deprived populations and villages.
In a country where roads are, in fact, dirt tracks, this platform is an effective way to help distribute humanitarian aid. Handicap International works with 98 truck drivers, and manages a fleet of 114 trucks to cover a network of more than 2,800 miles of roads. We currently supply 29 major towns in 14 provinces of the Central African Republic. For some communities deprived of aid since the start of the crisis, this platform makes a big difference and enables thousands of people to benefit from considerable support.
What problems do the truck drivers encounter?
Depending on the season, road transport conditions can be extremely difficult. There are also some villages that can only be reached quickly by air. However, the bulk of the aid is transported by trucks along roads that have not been maintained in years.
Besides the poor state of the roads, our truck drivers constantly contend with an extremely unstable security situation.
After more than eight months in operation, what has been the impact?
The logistics platform allows humanitarian organizations to pool their expenses, make savings, and reach previously inaccessible areas. This means they no longer need to arrange the transport of their humanitarian aid, and can invest more resources in assisting the people worst affected by the current crisis.
Twenty-three partner organizations have benefited from our road transport expertise. We have delivered 4,053 tons of aid over more than 62,000 miles of road—that’s two and a half times the distance around the world!
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Handicap International logistics platform in the Central African Republic is supported by the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund, the Common Humanitarian Fund of the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations’ Humanitarian Air Service, and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance of the United States’ Agency for International Development.