Warehouse fire, Red Zone, and flight cancellations prompt rapid revision of standard supply chain execution for the Central African Republic

by | Mar 7, 2023

In Bangui in the Central African Republic (CAR), in December 2022, when a fire destroyed a Central Medical Store housing antiretrovirals, antimalarials, and anti-tuberculosis treatments and screening reagents, PFSCM and the principal recipient (PR) worked together to halt and redo orders for health products destined for the country.

With no secure storage available and stock at hand destroyed, stakeholders had to respond rapidly to determine what products needed to be sourced and expedited to replace the lost goods, how to best deal with orders in the pipeline, and how to find appropriate storage space for the goods underway and that which would be expedited to satisfy the immediate demand.

In addition to these issues, the year-end Red Zone period, as well as flight cancellations by the regular airfreight service provider in December 2022, further complicated the logistics and transport situation for CAR.

PFSCM Logistics Specialist Anais Lahaye says PFSCM, the PR, and freight forwards had several detailed meetings to resolve the pressing problems.

“We work with many challenging and conflict countries and have learned to expect the unexpected. By being flexible, leveraging our years of experience in humanitarian logistics, and working together with our clients and specialized partners, we always find appropriate solutions.”

She explains that in this case, PFSCM’s souring and procurement teams reworked the orders and coordinated with suppliers to manage the postponed and expedited others while the PR contacted the diagnostic laboratories in Bangui to determine what their capacity was for receiving goods directly, seeing as the regular warehousing options were not available. PFSCM’s logistics specialists navigated the transport options and, along with a specialized freight forwarder Light Air Services, found solutions for moving goods until the regular airfreight service provider was back in service.

Lahaye adds that another challenge is ensuring the integrity of cold chain goods like reagents used in analyzers to diagnose COVID-19, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases.

“Even without crises, warm low-resource countries face challenges with appropriate temperature-controlled storage. Using temperature data loggers, moving products by air, and speeding up processes like waiver applications and customs clearance all play a big role in ensuring time-and-temperature sensitive goods are not delayed and compromised along their journey.”

She concludes that some of the revised shipments were already delivered to CAR in 2022 despite the immense challenges, and the remainder of the goods were delivered early in 2023.