Frontline Humanitarian Logistics Initiative


Supply & Logistics is a critical technology capability that is required for Humanitarian emergency operations. Many of the 71 million forcibly displaced people depend on humanitarian response for lifesaving support in post-disaster and conflict environments. Yet in 2019 much of the humanitarian sector is still dependent on spreadsheets to manage Frontline Humanitarian Logistics. This unserved need is due to industry specific requirements of the Humanitarian sector that are quite unlike commercial logistics solutions. Commercial solutions have proved inadequate in the last-mile, austere and rapid scale up environments that we face in humanitarian response.

The sector has created many home-built solutions or cross-organisation attempts such as HELIOS. While fulfilling the immediate needs at the time, these solutions have not delivered on their promise. Ultimately, Humanitarian INGO’s are not resourced to continually maintain and support software. We also see sub-verticals in our sector such as healthcare and WASH, that lead organizations to developing custom, non-interoperable solutions. These are failing to deliver capability and value to sector organizations due to inadequate investment.

Unless we solve this challenge, Humanitarian Organizations will fail to deliver the impact they could. Further, with aging systems in Tier 1 response organizations we risk severe impact on Humanitarian Operations if we do not act in the near term.

With many INGO’s moving to ERP in 2019/20 there is a window of opportunity to deliver a sustainable technology capability for our Humanitarian Community, interoperable with our wider organisation’s capabilities.


  1. Register your organization here.
  2. Schedule a call with Dr. Fraser Stephens and participate in the learning exercise.

Dr. Fraser Stephens has been involved in Humanitarian Logistics for more than 15yrs, working for Fritz Institute, and with a number of organizations including: Médecins Sans Frontières, International Medical Corps, Merlin UK, Kenyan Red Cross World Vision International and Oxfam Great Britain. He has held various positions in technical Project/ Product management and is well versed in sector collaboration so is very well placed to facilitate us. The findings of the learning exercise will be shared with participating NGOs and partners of the initiative. 


Humanitarian organisations met as part of NetHope in Innsbruck and agreed to:

  1. Conduct a Learning Exercise to identify key stakeholders to work on this initiative and to learn from previous attempts to understand why they have failed to deliver the ultimate impact they called for.
  2. Create an open NGO Data Model for Humanitarian Logistics (NDM-HL) that aligns with sector standards and initiatives and serves as a common language for all INGO’s and technology partners.
  3. Form Sector Vertical Solutions for Humanitarian Logistics.
We ask that a coalition of willing stakeholders work to deliver these three components. The outcome will be a widely recognised NGO Data Model for Humanitarian Logistics and industry vertical solutions, supported by a strong development and maintenance model.

Interested in learning more? Read:



Download the report: The Frontline Humanitarian Logistics workshop at the Africa Logistics Conference 2019

Working Group Calls

The first call (held July 31, 2019) about logistics led by Mike Smith, Information Architect at Oxfam International that covered:

  • a review of current situation: needs and gaps in logistics platforms;
  • a sector data model for logistics;
  • a plan to work with tech partners to develop vertical solutions around logistics for the sector

(this was a replay of the presentation given at the Nethope European Chapter Meeting June 28, 2019)

The second call (held August 1, 2019) about logistics led by Mike Smith, Information Architect at Oxfam International that covered:

  • a recap of initiative and how it will make a sustained difference
  • an overview of the Learning Exercise
  • governance of the initiative

The third call (held September 9, 2019) about logistics led by Mike Smith, Information Architect at Oxfam International that provided an introduction for Logistics personnel:

  • recap of initiative and funding position
  • how to participate in the Learning Exercise

Call (held October 16, 2019) with Partners in preparation for NetHope 2019 Summit Working Group disussion

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