Gyöngyi Kovács

Gyöngyi Kovács

Gyöngyi Kovács is the Erkko Professor in Humanitarian Logistics, and founding Director of the HUMLOG Institute.


  • @RajithaWickramatunga , what was the most surprising thing you've learned from this podcast?

  • Many countries have indeed relocated PPE production back to their countries & regions, and also in other supply chains, there has been a rise of at least a "China + 1" policy to mitigate the risk of disruptions.

    However, many crucial raw materials for PPE do not exist in every country. What are your suggestions for how to tackle issues with such global...

  • You have a fair point with pre-positioning some of these supplies, and indeed countries that did fared somewhat better in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pre-positioning also gives time to activate procurement while starting to use this stock. Then again, how would you address the next step if there is no PPE production in country?

  • Back to you: what is your experience with medical logistics and supply chains?

  • Interesting examples, thanks for sharing!

  • There are in fact targeted endeavours to do just that, e.g. the IMPACCT project (
    Also, countries have in fact refused e.g. vaccines they deemed they couldn't handle - but that results in delays in vaccination outroll. It may seem like a big challenge with some vaccines...

  • So true! This is an inherent difficulty in managing pandemics, as well as mitigating supply chain disruptions. What other such surprises have you encountered?

  • Good catch, indeed it was meant for 3.7 and 3.8.

  • Good point about the movement of people. There is also other open data that can help with that, e.g. from traffic management systems. Any other that comes to mind?

  • You are raising an important point, both the data one has and how one can work with it changes over time. What would you do as a next step with even more data?

  • Good you highlighted that. An important aspect to consider is which transfer mechanism would work for beneficiaries. Sometimes one can e.g. distribute sim cards for mobile cash, but you only get so far if you have the telecoms in place. If not, good old debit cards and merchants who can take them in the area may be a backup. There is lots more info to be had...

  • How interesting! Curious: how do you get the right raw materials for such sophisticated prints?

  • On this note, there is also a debate in the UK whether it has become too heavily reliant on its armed forces during the COVID-19 response:

  • For more resources on this topic, check out the virtual issue of the Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management on "Logistics & SCM in the context of relief for refugees and internally displaced persons" at - all...

  • Your observation is spot on. Airdrops are reserved for a matter of last resort, exactly for that reason. And as you said, one can also have people parachuting down to organise the distribution on the ground. That approach has even been used in bringing in people to hurricanes before they hit as to speed up needs assessment and also transport infrastructure...

  • Very good point about the overlaps. As much as we distinguish between phases, types of disasters and organisational mandates, there is much to be said about focusing on how they feed into one another.

  • Thanks for bringing up the service provision to one another already. That is such a growing area in humanitarian logistics!

  • Good points, Maria. Rarely would LSPs also "distribute" aka hand out items to beneficiaries without humanitarians present to at least oversee that process, but they can take care of all sorts of logistical functions until then.

  • Interesting that you've started with the (commercial) logistics service providers and what they do in this field. Great addition to the discussion.

  • Welcome to the course! This is a special run to met popular demand; who wouldn't want to know more about humanitarian logistics right now?

    The course will take you through the principles of humanitarian operations, but you get the most out of it the more you discuss with one another. Now we know the COVID-19 response is on everybody's minds but it's not...

  • There is another course on the SDGs as well if you are interested to learn more:

  • Water is a tricky one. It's heavy! If there is water in the region, you are better off avoiding to transport it and rather work with water purification systems. That way you can also avoid a lot of waste.

  • I'm intrigued by your answer of sourcing medicine locally. Can you give some examples for which items that would work vs for which you would need international/global sourcing?

  • We also have an online course on the SDGs, check it out at

  • Mikko, we have an entire masters and PhD programme, if you are interested :) - but in the meantime, I'd also like to draw your attention to the various courses that different humanitarian organisations have for their own staff & roster, but also to train co-deployment.

  • Thanks for posting the guidelines!

  • In addition, there are also other important barriers to consider, e.g. intellectual property rights, and of course quality <-> patient safety, among others.

  • Do you happen to have the link to the EPC pamphlet you mentioned, and could you post it here?

  • @SandyWatts Sadly, not all articles are open access, but you will find some in authors' own university repositories, depending on the publishing house's embargos and other requirements. Those that I've written and are either open access or the embargo is over can be accessed through

  • Some lean scholars disagree themselves on how lean management has been perceived from the "zero waste" / "zero inventory" perspective only. Here is a some food for thought from lean management as a process improvement technique in health care: Holden (2011) at

  • Good question, as they could be both. There is no common classification in this sense, but there are specific co-ordination mechanisms, and different types and foci of organisations. Also within organisations it differs to a great extent how logistics is seen, and where in the organisation it is situated.

  • @EricaCarvalho that's a great question. However, isn't the question equally applicable when distributing goods in-kind?

  • @ChristianaTorricelli, this will depend quite a bit on the type and role of government, as well as the way disaster management is organised in a country. There is no unified "Western" way to that; just as there is no unified way access to health care is organised.
    More generally, however, there are some conditions that apply for being able to deliver...

  • Gyöngyi Kovács made a comment

    Let's add some questions to the ones above:
    1. Which items would you consider most apt for 3D printing?
    2. Under which conditions would 3D printing be vs. not be possible?
    3. What are the main problems with 3D printing to date? And how would you overcome them?

  • @EziashiChukwurah you hit the nail with your point on switching between CBI and in-kind material flows. It's a million dollar question how to solve that if and when one needs to make that switch. Any suggestions what could help there?

  • Food for thought: Some HSPs have been labelled LSPs themselves. What do you reckon, are they?

  • @SandyWatts, for sure! Though if you look at global logistics service providers, many of those also have quite a localised structure through service tiering, use of local freight forwarders etc.

  • There are others as well, for sure. The opposite would be LIFO (last in first out), and what is much used in the pharmaceutical and nutrition sector is FEFO (first expiry first out). All of these are but rules of thumb, there is a lot more to it when you consider production batches, links to specific donations and what/whom they are earmarked for etc.

  • @ClementinadeOliveira spot on! Have a look at some of the previous comments discussing FEFO (first expiry first out) for pharmaceutical and nutrition items in particular.

  • You'll find some more input to your question in the warehousing part of the course for sure, but let's just say up front that there is much value in preparedness, including pre-positioned inventory.

  • Gyöngyi Kovács made a comment

    There are lots of great answers here with lists of humanitarian organisations. Back to the first part of the question, though, can you also list the specialised logistics structures?

  • @LuanFelipeScuttler, do you mean (hand) sanitizer or something else? Sanitizers are essential health care items, and as such considered in medical / medical humanitarian supply chains.

  • Welcome, everyone, who has just started the course! No worries if you started a bit late, we are keeping the course open still for a couple of weeks.

  • Nice you found the course, Nyasha! Welcome!

  • In case you've missed it, you can still check it out at

  • Welcome, Juan, to the course! Please do bring in all your experience, which I know is vast!

  • There are great comments here focusing on ethical issues mostly. Others focus on local organisations as implementing partners. Apart from those important points, how do you see the role of
    (a) local grassroot organisations in disaster relief, and
    (b) local organisations for capacity building and disaster as well as community resilience?

  • Why do you say that? Can you please elaborate?

  • At the risk of re-posting this, we will have a discussion on this very topic in a "virtual open forum". Feel free to join!

    Virtual open forum discussion entitled “An Action Agenda for Effective Post-COVID-19 Supply Chains”.

    When: April 16th, Thursday, 2020 (60-120 minutes)
    Japan Singapore Amsterdam London New York San Francisco
    21:00 (9pm) 20:00 (8pm)...

  • Great example! Everyone, are there any others you are aware of?

  • @RouaMoawiaAbdalhadiMohamed There are quite a few humanitarian organisations present in Sudan but if you are looking for one with a strong volunteer base, check out the activities of the Sudanese Red Crescent Society. Their website seems down but they have a LinkedIn page as well. More specifically for the Covid-19 response there is also a WHO representation...

  • Welcome all again!

    Most of you are now in your week 2 of the course, while others may just join up. This course is about humanitarian logistics more in general, but if you are up for a discussion on supply chains in the COVID-19 outbreak, you can also join an open forum dedicated to the matter:

    Virtual open forum discussion entitled “An Action Agenda...

  • Hola Julian, we are always looking for good PhD students in humanitarian logistics. Check out the Hanken PhD website at and sign up for the newsletter to get info and updates on the next application round.

  • @MagnusBjörk Absolutely! It would be fun to see what all came true.

  • Thanks for flagging out if there is a technical glitch. And even bigger thanks for not giving up but providing a verbal description as answer.

  • There are quite a few actors that can be active in disaster relief, the government certainly being one of them. Even in a case in which they wouldn't actively "deliver" anything, they have a crucial role in co-ordinating relief efforts.

  • There is quite a lot of focus on digitalisation but beware of (a) the impact of a disaster on telecoms/energy infrastructures, and (b) the "digital divide". Those you need to reach are the most vulnerable, after all.

  • You are right that we push out what we know will be needed, but the earlier we have a more nuanced needs assessment, the earlier there is a change to pull - or even to cash.

  • Very good point on checking what is already on stock!

  • You are spot on with each disaster being a unique event, but there are also quite a few commonalities, both in terms of which logistical principles are applied in which phase of disaster relief, but also in terms of basic items we know people will need. Focusing on commonalities helps in preparedness and speeds up response.

  • @LizBreen CILT UK has also set up a platform to match logisticians with the NHS in the UK. Their database can be found here:

  • Hi Afra, if you are studying service management, have you seen that there is another Hanken MOOC starting next week on that topic? Check it out:

  • How would you modify "first in first out" for pharmaceutical and nutrition products?

  • Well spotted with alternate telecommunication; networks are often impacted by a disaster itself, whether we are now talking of the impact of a natural hazard or a conflict. Less so in a pandemic, of course.

  • Those are good questions for needs assessment. You may also want to consider others such as who has the capacity to help themselves/get help from their own network, vs. who would be left out. We talk about vulnerability-capacity assessment (VCA) as well as needs assessment in this regard.

  • Great point on risk assessments. Apart from countries and regions having those, you can also derive the disaster profile of particular countries from disaster databases such as this one:

  • Good point on building back better, it's essential for improving resilience.

  • Good point in preparedness being not just warehousing but also the nurturing of supplier relations!

  • Those of you in other countries, please add your city's / region's responses here as well; we may just help in connecting people to the right co-ordination centres and endeavours.

  • @RamiSyed, can you please comment on Mikko's question a bit more up from here?

  • Not entirely sure about other cities, but the Finnish Red Cross departments in the central areas of Helsinki have formed a joint centre (tilannekeskus). There are a few FRC members here in the course, those of you in different cities/regions, please comment!

  • No worries, we are here to assist :)

  • Hi Matthias, welcome back to a Hanken course! Didn't you do your exchange term with us a long time ago?

  • Hi Magnus, welcome back to a Hanken course! Nice to see you are still working with strategic sourcing; wasn't that what you've written your master's thesis on? Looking forward to your contribution in the procurement section of this course in particular.

  • Christiana, and all others, if you are looking for literature in humanitarian logistics, you may just want to start with Peter Tatham's bibliography. You can find it here: It was last updated on March 13, 2020.

  • Great example. The reminder of not disrupting the market is crucial. The other question is whether you need to deliver food in kind, or whether cash distribution could be more appropriate, again depending on the market situation.

  • That's a fair point, Emmanuel. There is a lot of discussion of the humanitarian-development nexus that is relevant here. There are a few additional perspectives that may be of interest: the sustainability of aid, the question of surge capacity of existing systems, as well as the one of exit strategies.

  • Wow, what a great group already! There is a lot to learn here from one another, whether from the "insiders" who work with humanitarian organisations, or their suppliers, or researchers dedicated to this topic. Welcome to all of you! I for one will certainly learn a lot :)

  • Welcome, Joni! For those of you who are not familiar with Red Cross emergency relief units, ask Joni about them! It's a fascinating system. Take it from another FRC logistics delegate here :)

  • Yay, another facilitator here! For the others, Stephen has done quite some research in this field as well; looking forward to learning more from him here.

  • Good point on kits, they are super-important for speedy delivery so you can also use materials instantly. Check out the inter-agency health kits that are put together following the same standards, so that any humanitarian organisation can easily start using one another's kits in the field.

  • Important point on the Log Cluster and on cluster leads. Which other clusters do you know?

  • Wow, welcome, Claire! Nice to have more facilitators on board as well :)

  • Congrats to your PhD! You may have seen that we are looking for a post doc for our project HERoS, which is a COVID-19 response project. You'll find the job ad at

  • In addition, what do you think makes the logistics of pandemic response unique?

  • Welcome to the course! This is a special run to met popular demand; who wouldn't want to know more about humanitarian logistics right now?

    The course will take you through the principles of humanitarian operations, but you get the most out of it the more you discuss with one another. Now we know the COVID-19 response is on everybody's minds but it's not...

  • Thanks to you all for taking the course! It's been super-interesting to see what you got out from it, and especially to read your key take-aways here. Always hoping for even more answers, of course.

  • Nice meeting you all as well. Enjoy the course!