This document contains do's and dont's of humanitarian supplies management. It has been prepared by the creators of the Supply Management System to aid both donors and recipients in times of disaster.
Preparing and dispatching donated supplies
When packing supplies, use materials resistant enough to withstand the journey and the handling that the parcels will suffer.
Prepare a packing list describing the contents, ideally broken down by parcel.
Insert the packing list in one of the parcels and mark it "Packing List." Protect this list inside a water-resistant envelope.
Make parcels of a weight, size, and form that can be handled by one
person (between 25 kg - 50 kg maximum). Remember that very often in the
field, there is no equipment to unload and handle cargo.
Pack supplies in separate parcels according to their nature (clothes, drugs, food, personal needs, etc.)
Identify parcels that belong to the same consignment with
consecutive numbers that relate to the total number of parcels in the
shipment (i.e., on a consignment of 100 parcels, number 1/100, 2/100,
3/100, 4/100 and so on up to 100/100).
Label visibly every parcel with the name, address and telephone of
the sender and the consignee, and any other specific characteristics of
the cargo: fragile, urgent, need refrigeration, etc.
Inform consignees about the dispatch of every single shipment.
Include information about the consignment (packing list, number of
parcels, etc.), the means by which it was sent (type, company,
characteristics, person in charge, etc.), its exact destination,
arrival point and estimated time of arrival.
Verify and provide any special needs for the transport of the supplies (i.e. refrigeration).
Don't send any supplies that have not been requested by the disaster-stricken country.
Don't mix together in the same parcel items of a different nature (drugs, food, clothes, etc.)
Don't clog relief channels with donations that are not urgently needed.
Receiving the donations that pour into a disaster-stricken country
is not an easy task. The flow of solicited and unsolicited relief
supplies is often so overwhelming that it exceeds the ability of the
country or an NGO to handle it.
PAHO/WHO has developed the SUMA system, a methodology that helps
strengthen the preparedness and management capacity of the
organizations who receive relief supplies. SUMA helps countries
effectively and transparently manage the large-scale influx of
Be on site to supervise the unloading process: to avoid mishandling and to count the parcels.
Verify that the contents of the cargo received match the information
on the documents enclosed (quality and quantity). Report ASAP to the
sender any problems or discrepancies.
Use standard procedures, forms, and SUMA classification categories to register incoming supplies
SUMA classification categories:
- Water and sanitation
- Food and beverages
- Personal needs/ education
- Human’s Resources
- Agriculture/Cattle industry
Request technical assistance (physicians, pharmacists, etc.) to classify medical items.
Use the "Unsorted" option to classify shipments with expired or
useless items, or items that are too varied to classify on-the-spot.
Clearly label all boxes and packages with the appropriate priority level, according to SUMA methodology:
Priority 1: URGENT-IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION: items that require immediate distribution at the site of the emergency.
Mark the supplies of no foreseeable use or benefit (i.e. expired, damaged, useless or unidentifiable) as Priority 3: NON-PRIORITY ARTICLES to sidetrack them out of sight.
Use Priority 2: NON-URGENT DISTRIBUTION for other items which
are not of immediate use in the emergency phase, but still may be of
use later during reconstruction or development.
Share data about your supplies with other agencies. Institutional
secrecy and a lack of transparency damages the relief effort and your
Don't assign priority 1 to the majority of items. It is
counterproductive and self- defeating. The objective is to give
preferential treatment to a limited amount of supplies of immediate use
Don't let valuable supplies go unregistered! Keeping a paper trail
of donations is the best safeguard against abuses and the best
guarantee that the supplies will reach the intended beneficiaries.