Following the earthquake on January 12 in Haiti, PAHO/WHO mobilized a Logistics Support System team (LSS/SUMA) to support the work of receiving, sorting, and distributing humanitarian supplies. The magnitude and complexity of the emergency placed significant demands on logistic capacity.
The first experts in LSS/SUMA were deployed from the Dominican Republic to Jimaní, on the border with Haiti. They established storage areas to receive and classify humanitarian supplies and donations destined for Haiti and to assist operations at the PAHO/WHO medicine warehouse in Port-au-Prince.
Subsequently, other experts were deployed from Nicaragua, Colombia, and Argentina. During the first days of operations, working conditions were very difficult due to the chaos that reigned at the airport, which was overwhelmed by the massive influx of aid from all over the world.
Collaboration from the disaster response team of DHL, a freight transport company, was instrumental in collecting information on supplies entering the country. At the same time, Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency cooperated in setting up a team trained in the use of LSS/SUMA to work at the airport. Once operations at the port terminal resumed in Port-au-Prince, a LSS/SUMA team was established there to manage supplies coming by sea. The information collected was shared with various organizations in Haiti.
LSS/SUMA operations are ongoing in Haiti. The PAHO/WHO office in Haiti has hired local staff to continue using LSS/SUMA at the headquarters of Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency. This agency develops the country’s emergency response plans, which include the use of LSS/SUMA as an important tool in the logistics of disaster response.