The Importance of Partnerships for Disaster Relief
In 2017, Hurricane Maria created unparalleled devastation on the island of Puerto Rico. To address the urgent recovery needs, The UPS Foundation, UNICEF, and the Empire State Relief and Recovery Effort led by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo came together to gather and deliver food, water, and other supplies where they were needed most.
Below, we share from two leaders who worked together to bring aid to Puerto Rico:
Caryl M. Stern
President & CEO UNICEF USA
The mission of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is to address the needs of children in developing world. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico was in a state of crisis. Access to essential services, including to safe water was cut off — leaving families at risk of deadly diseases. Although UNICEF responds to over 300 humanitarian emergencies annually, we typically do not do so in industrialized nations such as Puerto Rico.
Thus, there was no existing UNICEF infrastructure in place — no programs, supplies, or logistical expertise. To respond to the needs of the crisis, we needed to find the right partners. We were impressed by how New York Governor Cuomo took the initiative to visit Puerto Rico to find out what was truly needed from the people themselves. His outreach got attention, and we were able to amplify his message to gather more supplies — and connect with long-time partners at The UPS Foundation for their logistical expertise to transport 60 pallets of drinking water and hygiene kits for 60,000 people to the island.
This successful effort is a strong example of how public-private partnerships provide essential resources for UNICEF’s work and empower us to advocate and leverage support for the most vulnerable children around the world.
President of The UPS Foundation; UPS Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer
One of the focus areas of The UPS Foundation is our Humanitarian Relief and Resilience Program, which helps communities prepare for disasters, provides immediate assistance in the wake of disasters, and supports longterm recovery efforts. UPS is a long-time partner of UNICEF USA, working to strengthen UNICEF’s global supply chain operations and support relief efforts since 2000.
When we were contacted by UNICEF and the Governor’s team, we worked quickly to inventory and deliver aid through our smart logistics network. This included three flights coordinated with local agencies already on the ground. Once they landed, our drivers and trucks were ready to deliver supplies to the affected communities.
Logistics plays a vital role in humanitarian relief efforts to ensure the right supplies get to where they are needed most. UPS and our employees around the world are proud to have contributed logistics expertise to support 546 in-kind shipments in response to 26 disasters across 61 countries in 2017. Alone, this wouldn’t be possible, but through collaboration we can help our partner organizations reach those most in need.
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