Logistics companies have been developing ways to deliver humanitarian aid to survivors of the Nepal earthquake, a challenge amplified by continued traffic restrictions at the Katmandu airport that have slowed the flow of relief supplies.
Local officials banned large military and cargo jets from landing on Sunday when they discovered cracks in the runways caused by the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck the mountainous country on April 25. The restriction poses a problem because the airport is the only major port of entry to the remote region. But with more than 7,000 dead and 14,000 injured, donors and aid organizations knew they had to deliver crucial food, water, medicine, and shelter in any way possible.
Logistics professionals are working to rise to the challenge.
"The massive scale of destruction from the Nepal earthquake has hugely crippled infrastructure and damaged roads and local airports, posing a great logistical challenge towards relief efforts," Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL Group.
In response, DHL has dispatched 12 members of its Disaster Response Team (DRT). They are part of a squad of 400 logistics professionals who can be deployed worldwide within 72 hours of a disaster to help manage the incoming flood of international aid.
"Our team comprises highly trained volunteers who provide logistical expertise to help coordinate the relief aid at the airport for further distribution to the victims in the speediest manner possible," said Appel.
The DHL workers will work at Katmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport to support the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). They will help coordinate local organizations' efforts to handle and distribute urgently needed goods such as technical equipment, water, and food.
Another solution to the challenge of importing goods to a region with damaged infrastructure came from U.S. Marine Corps planners, who dispatched four MV-22 Osprey aircraft from their base in Okinawa, Japan, to Nepal. Designed to fly like airplanes, but take off and land like helicopters, the tilt-rotor aircraft allow Marine aid workers to land on the damaged runway and then fly local missions to reach remote areas, Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy told National Public Radio (NPR).
"Probably the most pressing need is shelter," Kennedy said. "We're going to start pushing these shelters out to the most remote areas so people can get under cover before these monsoons kick in in about six weeks."
FedEx Corp. is following a similar strategy in dispensing its humanitarian response to the Nepal disaster. The Memphis-based company's $1 million aid commitment includes cash and transportation support—vital ingredients for clearing these unique logistics hurdles—in addition to donating a chartered flight for delivering life-saving medical supplies and medicines, shelter, and water treatment systems. UPS Inc., FedEx's chief rival, last week made a $500,000 donation.
Another group providing expertise is the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN), which is using its website as a hub to post requests for donated logistics services and coordinate the response. ALAN's mission statement is to support disaster recovery by engaging industry to address the unmet needs of relief organizations, communities, and people.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story inadvertently implied that all 400 members of DHL's Disaster Response Team were sent to Nepal.