Aidex Voices

Drum Commodities Limited provides logistical services and risk control for aid agencies across Africa and the Middle East. Services also include warehouse auditing, stock controls and fumigation provision. Here Jethro Freeman, Business Development Manager for Drum Commodities Limited discusses their new expansion into working with the aid sector.

EU countries are well-known for their aid provision. Yet a lot of people are unaware of the amount of aid that goes ‘missing’ before it ever reaches its final destination, getting swallowed up in the black market or slipped into the back pockets of local lower-tier officials along the way.

No one is immune to this problem. Just last year, the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) gave the UK’s Department for International Development amber-red rating for not doing enough to tackle corruption in the aid supply chain. And while we certainly need a more holistic, global approach to tackling it, the ICAI also found that most of the big agencies don’t yet have the means to audit their relief (as has been shown in Nigeria and Haiti). At the very least, they could do much more to ensure they mitigate the risk of it getting to those that need it the most.

Drum Commodities Limited has worked with agencies such as the World Food Programme and other UN bodies to give them clear control of what’s going on. We monitor food, or any other commodity, from vessel to train, truck to warehouse and once it’s there, we make sure that’s where it stays, until it’s ready for consumption.

Many of our suppliers talk about the difficulty in transporting commodities to specific countries: take DRC, Ethiopia and South Sudan as just a few examples. Because our staff are local to the area, we have been able to expand our activities into areas where others that deal at arm’s length haven’t succeeded. Our newest centre will soon open in Djibouti and will become the hub for our full-time operations in Ethiopia. We have seen a surge in requests for these ‘difficult-to-reach’ areas as well as cross-border transportation, so we can safeguard that critical connection at the border, from one country to another where oversight often abates.

Agencies shouldn’t have to re-buy aid. Our ultimate goal is to provide assurance, transparency and visibility across the whole supply chain.