National Society Logistics Capacity Building

The IFRC has long been recognized as an advocate for localization and it is a co-leader of the Grand Bargain Workstream on localization. National Societies are critical local actors. While many are strong, accountable organizations, some others require support in their development. The IFRC supports these National Societies to evolve into more effective organizations and to enhance their support to vulnerable communities. The core of the IFRC’s approach to strengthening National Societies lies in accompanying them on their own journeys of institutional development and strengthening.

The National Society Logistics Development (NSLD) approach is primarily a change process by which it is envisioned that National Societies have adequate logistics capacities and resources to support its mission of delivering protection and assistance services to people who are vulnerable in their territories, as auxiliary to the public authorities in their humanitarian work. It is part of a broader IFRC approach to accompany National Societies on their own journeys of institutional development and strengthening, ensuring that they are not only effective today, but that they are influencing – and prepared for – the future.

There are three main phases a National Society could benefit from external support in their Logistics Development: 1) understand its needs and if this change process is the right tool for what the organisation is looking for; 2) based on the National Society’s needs analysis, and considering possible solutions, help the organisation designing their Logistics Development Plan; 3) technical support during the implementation of that Plan.

Under its coordination mandate, the IFRC plays a unique role interlinking different Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners in terms of technical assistance, capturing and sharing expertise and experiences. In the case of the NSLD programme, IFRC regional logistics teams connect with the National Societies in the region via IFRC country or country cluster offices, connect the different countries with other Movement members in those regions and interlink with other Federation’s NS Development initiatives to support an integrated approach.

Strengthening collaboration within the Movement

Aiming to foster collaboration, learning, mutual support and guidance harmonisation, a dedicated working group in Logistics Development was established in 2018 among National Societies, the IFRC and the ICRC. One of the deliverables of that group is a common Movement approach for NSLD, aligned to the National Society Development Framework, IFRC 2013. It relies on 10 principles to guide a process that aims to have the Host National Society in the centre, driving its own development—a customised solution to the specific needs of each NS— with a coordinated external support—when needed— from other Movement members and non-Movement partners, while considering logistics as part of an integrated National Society-wide development plan.

The role of the IFRC is envisioned to focus more in facilitating that collaboration, leaving the implementation at country level to other National Societies or ICRC with existing presence in each country and more resources or capacity to support.

NSLD is included in the plan of action 2018-2019 of the Strengthening Movement Coordination and Cooperation (SMCC) initiative.

Recognising the need to change some practices

Historically, NS have found funding more readily available in an emergency response, where donors are keen to commit funding to operational support to relieve a bottleneck in an existing operation. These are short-term initiatives with immediate results. Without stopping this type of support in situations where it might be appropriate, the NSLD process offers an alternative, showing the benefit to the NS and its potential donors in investing in logistics changes that will encourage long-term sustainability. Through a Logistics Development Plan of Action, the NS can develop and support its strategic vision - evaluate what logistics needs to be addressed, identify the cost implications for each piece of work, and prioritise these needs themselves. This will give the NS the groundwork for submitting considered proposals to potential donors demonstrating how the NS plans to achieve these long-term projects, breaking down the reasons why this need is a priority, what it will achieve, how this will be achieved and the relevant financial investment (acquisition costs and running costs). This offer manages expectations and provides the flexibility for the logistics capacity strengthening effort to be both multi-partner and multi-year. It also enables the NS to explain how the individual contributions from different partners contribute and complement each other towards the plan, maximising results. And ultimately, it shows how it contributes and fits within an organisation-wide NS Development Plan.

A first version of the Movement common NSLD methodology was finalised at the end of 2019 and is now being piloted. It is a product built on the learning extracted from practices in different NS during the last years. It shows how the desire from different Movement members can be coordinated to look for more effective ways of working collectively.