4. Logistics assessment and planning


  • Include logistics in the initial rapid needs assessment.
  • Translate the assessment into an operational plan that addresses budget requirements, infrastructure requirements (including offices, warehouses and staffing), transport and movement planning, items required, sourcing, procurement schedules, and distribution plans.
  • Manage logistics and supply activities appropriately through start-up, implementation and close-down phases.

Logistics must form a critical part of the initial assessment. The programme element of the assessment considers the humanitarian needs and defines the most appropriate response strategy. The logistics element of the assessment helps to determine how that strategy can be delivered operationally. See Annex 15.3 for the UN Logistics Cluster Logistics Capacity Assessment format. The logistics assessment should include the following

4.1.1 Logistics rapid assessment key questions

Local transport infrastructure capacity

  • Internal transport network: check all available transport infrastructures such as road, air, rail and waterways.
  • Road: check category and state of roads, distance, bottlenecks, security, payload capacity (bridges), transport market and transport rates, and connection with international transport.
  • Overland entry points: check location, customs procedures, bottlenecks and delays, security, freight forwarder and rates, and working hours.
  • Air: check airfield locations and specificities (GPS coordinates, length and surface of the airstrip, type of aircraft that can operate), scheduled and chartered flight options, cost, regulation and clearance procedure for chartered flights, and security and safety.
  • Waterway (costal and river): check ports (location, capacity, handling rate), types of vessels that can operate and their carrying capacity with seasonal variation, procedure for contracting transport, availability of vessels, identification of potential bottlenecks, and security.
  • Rail: check rail network and condition, traffic frequency and transport capacity, procedure to use rail transport, cost, and connection with international rail network.

Storage capacity

  • Determine your potential warehousing needs (surface, volume, facilities, cold chain).
  • Assess availability and identify storage facilities (cost, surface, volume, conditions, access).

Local availability of supplies

  • Determine availability and location of sources of supplies (reliability, quality, capacity, delivery, cost).
  • Identify private and public resources (donations, contributions, etc.).

Factors that may restrict or help relief efforts

National authorities may restrict, ban or help any aspect of the logistics operations.

  • Geography and remoteness of the area, climatic conditions.
  • Safety and security.
  • Poor infrastructure and lack of logistics resources available at the site.

Social, environmental and cultural features of the affected population and region

  • Program staff should take this information into account when making decisions about the type of supplies needed, how they can be distributed and how they are to be used or consumed. Logisticians will ensure timely delivery.
  • Sector specialists should identify the population’s dietary habits (types of food not consumed for religious or traditional reasons), and any relevant info that can determine what assistance to offer and what to avoid.
  • Logisticians should prioritise local and regional producers before asking for food assistance or negotiating the acquisition of food in other regions.
  • Sector specialists, with help from logisticians, should identify gender roles and norms, family structures, and roles relating to age.
  • Sector specialists, with help from logisticians, should identify the most common types of housing and construction.
  • The programme team should identify ethnic or cultural minorities and their specific needs.

The programme team should identify  community organisations.

Assessing the logistics implications as early as possible in the project cycle ensures that the logistical feasibility and cost of the proposed project are fully taken into account. In some cases, this can significantly affect viability, timing or cost effectiveness. The information gathered must then be translated into a logistics operational plan. The logistics operational plan produced in this post-assessment phase is integral to the project approval process.

Logistics operational plans should address:

  • budget requirements
  • infrastructure requirements (including offices, warehouses and staffing)
  • transport and movement planning
  • items required, sourcing and procurement schedules
  • distribution plans.

To produce the plan, information will be gathered from:

  • existing/previous projects of a similar technical or operational nature in the same area
  • knowledge/experience of logistics activities, including physical and human resources, communication and transport capability, and capacity in the region
  • knowledge of the global, regional and local logistics, and supply policies and procedures of CARE, donors and/or partners.

The logistics plan for a project addresses three phases of the project cycle:

  • start-up
  • implementation
  • closure.

For all activities in each phase, simple criteria should be used to address the issues of:

  • what-what is involved or required
  • who-who is consulted, makes decisions and carries out actions
  • when-timing of activities, their sequencing and dependencies
  • where-location of the project or project activities
  • quantities-how much and phasing
  • costs-estimates and constraints (staff, goods, services and works).

As the information is gathered for the activities at each phase, keep a record of: 

  • assumptions made and risks identified
  • dependencies on external factors
  • the critical success factors (things or people that are critical for the activity to be successful)
  • performance indicators that demonstrate how the activity has been carried out

Note! There must be good communication and teamwork between programme, logistics and finance people to ensure appropriate and feasible programmes and budgets for the response.

4.3.1 Overview of logistics and supply activities over the duration of a programme

Activity Assessment phase Start-up phase Implementation phase Closure phase
Assets tracking
  • Identify the availability of assets that are currently available.
  • Establish databases and ensure items are registered as received.
  • Ensure assets are tracked as they move.
  • Track capital item movements.
  • Make a disposal plan for all assets.
  • Ensure donor/ internal policies for disposal are followed.
  • Determine logistics and supply requirement.
  • Determine existing CARE capacity and capability.
  • Determine available local capacity and capability.
  • Specify international national recruitment needs.
  • Provide staffing budget.
  • Finalise and agree job descriptions.
  • Recruit staff.
  • Induct and train staff as necessary.
  • Monitor staff performance and provide feedback.
  • Provide training and development as necessary.
  • Identify additional needs and recruit as necessary.
  • Plan staff’s contract termination or redeployment as the programme scales down.
  • Ensure contract termination processes and procedures comply with locals laws, etc.
Warehouse and inventory management
  • Determine storage and warehousing needs.
  • Identify available existing storage/ warehousing facilities/ material handling.
  • Identify opportunity of expansion.
  • Identify potential new sites.
  • Provide budget costs.
  • Select sites.
  • Negotiate and conclude contracts.
  • Carry out any essential works to customise to requirements.
  • Obtain material handling equipment and storage media.
  • Establish effective management control and reporting procedures.
  • Ensure buildings are well maintained and that any problems are dealt effectively with in terms of lease/ contracts.
  • Ensure that procedures are well implemented.
  • Carry out regular stock reviews and audits and ensure results are recorded.
  • Make plan for disposal of remaining stock, equipment ensuring donor/ internal policies for disposal are followed.
  • Ensure appropriate notice is given.
  • Do an exit inspection with landlords and owner.
Transport and distribution
  • Determine requirements for transport and distribution.
  • Identify any constraints on transport use.
  • Identify available transport resources.
  • Develop a distribution plan.
  • Provide budget costs.
  • Identify transporters, and evaluate capability and capacity to perform.
  • Put in place transport and distribution arrangements.
  • Establish effective transport/ distribution control and documentation systems.
  • Monitor performance of transporters.
  • Ensure procedures are properly implemented.
  • Ensure notice is given and final payments done in accordance with any contracts made.
  • Notify usual transporters of termination of the project.
Purchasing and supply
  • Identify local suppliers and assess their capability.
  • Check on import procedures.
  • Develop a purchasing plan: identify supply needs and system.
  • Establish an effective order management system.
  • Train staff, both logistics and users, in its use.
  • Make purchases in accordance with system and procedure.
  • Ensure procedures are effectively implemented.
  • Monitor performance of vendors and systems.
  • Identify problem areas and take remedial action where necessary.
  • Ensure all orders are closed and suppliers are paid.
  • Consolidate records for potential future audit or evaluation.
Vehicle management
  • Determine requirements for vehicles and their types.
  • Decide whether to hire or purchase.
  • Provide budget costs.
  • Arrange hire or purchase of vehicles.
  • Establish maintenance systems.
  • Establish usage and fuel monitoring systems.
  • Ensure procedures are effectively implemented.
  • Monitor result and check deviations from norm (e.g. excessive fuel consumption)


  • Plan and implement disposal/ reallocation of vehicles as per internal and donor policies.
  • Ensure any rental contracts are terminated correctly and final payments are made.
Comms and IT
  • Determine requirements for IT equipment/ services.
  • Assess internal capacity.
  • Check local regulations, licenses, etc.
  • Specify the additional capacity and technologies required.
  • Provide budget costs.
  • Obtain equipment and appropriate licenses, etc.
  • Install.
  • Train staff.
  • Ensure equipment is maintained, repaired and updated as necessary.
  • Plan and implement disposal/ reallocation of equipment as per donor/internal requirements.
  • Notify authorities concerning licenses, regulations, etc.




  • Identify performance measures for logistics activities on the project.
  • Provide input with budget cost, assumptions and possible constraints into the proposal process.
  • Establish system to regularly feed back order information to customers.
  • Establish system to feed back actual cost information to budget holders.
  • Ensure reporting processes established are followed and updated where necessary.
  • Provide ‘end of deployment’ report and input into project final reports on compliance with donor requirements.
Support to Security Management
  • Gather information on context and specific threats from UN, local authorities, partners and other NGOs.
  • Carry out threat and vulnerability analysis.
  • Develop security guidelines to minimise risks identified during assessment.
  • Continue information gathering for regular reviews of risk analysis.
  • Identify changes in risk level and alert management.
  • Continue information gathering and dissemination for reviews of risk analysis.
  • Identify changes in risk level/alert management.
  • Update security guidelines.
  • Ensure that there are no security lapses towards the end of the project.
  • Ensure no security gaps during handover of activities or equipment to partners or donors.