Aidex Voices

Greenshields Cowie’s (GSC) core business is providing last mile logistics to difficult and risky destinations. Its current mission is particularly challenging; transporting aid to South Sudan - the world’s most dangerous place for humanitarian workers right now. Since 2016, GSC have been managing three separate contracts simultaneously to deliver 547 containers of 13,675,000 mosquito nets to 196 final destinations throughout the country, amidst the fighting and conflict.

Over the past 4 years, thousands of people have been killed as a direct result of civil war in South Sudan and a further 3.5 million Sudanese have been displaced. In addition to these devastating figures, the country is still suffering from food shortages, malnutrition, and malaria which is endemic in 95% of South Sudan and the leading cause of death in children under five.

It is for this reason that GSC’s team is tirelessly dedicated to achieving the aims of Global Fund’s Bed Net Distribution Programme to South Sudan 2016: to ensure that poor and vulnerable people are better protected from malaria, which in turn empowers them to become healthier, happier and lead more productive lives, despite the daily threat of civil war and disease.

Quality and reliable logistics services are essential for humanitarian aid and relief programmes, especially those that require the delivery of health-related goods into challenging, remote and volatile regions. As bed net delivery experts and fragile state specialists, GSC’s Project Mangers used local knowledge and decades of experience to effectively plan a robust logistics solutions, whilst mitigating and continuously monitoring risks to personnel and goods.

The logistical complexity of Global Fund’s 3 separate bed net distribution programmes to South Sudan required an agile and adaptive project management approach. This was essential for tackling the many challenges and risks which were still to be faced once the goods finally arrived in South Sudan, such as:

Civil War and Flooding

  • When violence broke out in Juba (July 2016), local personnel were evacuated to Entebbe, Uganda. However, GCS negotiated free storage with their local agent to retain any containers within their yard until the roads became accessible and the security situation improved.
  • During the heightened security threat, 61 of GSC’s containers joined a United Nations convoy to ensure nets reached their final destinations safely.
  • It was imperative to keep the project moving, despite the challenges of blocked roads due to flooding, or inaccessible areas due to security conditions. As an emergency alternative, they unloaded containers and transported nets on multiple flight rotations to reach isolated districts by air so that vulnerable people living in remote areas could protect themselves from malaria infection.

Moving Populations

  • As final destinations altered in response to people fleeing war, GSC’s Project Managers were quick to adapt their plans to the shifting populations and relay new instructions along the supply chain, continuously reporting to our client on the status and progress of containers along their new delivery routes.

Security of Personnel and Goods in Transit

  • To increase safety and mitigate the risk of isolated, broken-down trucks or hijacking on route to final destinations, drivers travelled in convoy and were in constant contact with GSC’s management team via Radio Frequency communication.
  • Regular reporting to our client was also essential to provide reassurance of real time data, evidencing progress of deliveries and identifying individual truck locations.

GSC Experts

Despite such adverse challenges, GSC’s two Project Managers Ron Hooper and Sophie Brayfield (who have 55 years’ of logistics experience combined) demonstrated skill, innovation and excellence in adapting to each new situation; whether it be chartering emergency flights, negotiating free storage at agents’ yards, or working with the UN to join their delivery convoy. Working long hours and on call 24 hours a day, the GSC team showed admirable resilience in steering delivery schedules back on track. GSC owe the success of these projects to their dedication and vast experience of hostile environments, which is a niche market and specialist service.

Over time, GSC have developed a wealth of knowledge and expertise of working in volatile and dangerous environments by adapting to the circumstance of fluctuating instability incurred by moving populations and unstable operating environments. GSC has had to overcome huge challenges to keep deliveries moving, whilst protecting local personnel and over 13 million extremely vulnerable South Sudanese from malaria infection.

Since 2010, GSC has delivered over 90 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets into Africa.