Cover Image
close this bookHandbook for Emergencies - Second Edition (UNHCR, 1999, 414 p.)
close this folder18. Supplies and Transport
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentOverview
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentOrganization of the Supply Chain
View the documentSupplies
View the documentTransport
View the documentReception of Goods
View the documentStorage
View the documentStock Management
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes


Annex 1 - Standard specifications for certain common relief items

These specifications can be useful in drawing up tender requests where local purchase is possible, to assist in negotiations with suppliers, and to give a clear indication of what could otherwise be supplied at short notice through Headquarters (some items are available in the emergency stockpile -see Appendix 1, Catalogue of Emergency Response Resources).

1. Woven Dry Raised Blankets (Type A) (for warm climates)


Woven, minimum 30% wool. Balance of new cotton/synthetic fibres;


150 × 200 cm, thickness 4 mm;





(thermal resistance

of garment)


10 stitches/decimetre or ribbon bordered 4 sides;


In compressed water tight wrapping in pressed bales of 30 pcs. Each bale of 30 pcs would be about 0.3 m3 volume and weigh approx. 48 kg.

2. Woven Dry Raised Blankets (Type B) (for cool climates)


Woven, minimum 50% wool. Balance of new synthetic fibre;


150 × 200 cm, thickness 5 mm;




2.0 - 2.4;

(thermal resistance

of garment)


10 stitches/decimetre or ribbon bordered 4 sides;


Compressed water tight wrapping in pressed bales of 30 pcs. Each bale of 30 pcs would be about 0.35 m3 volume and weigh 50 kg.

3. Heavy duty plastic bucket, 10 litre


Heavy duty plastic bucket, multi purpose, with lid;


High density polyethylene (HDPE), food grade material, conical seamless design.


Steel-wire bale handle, fitted with plastic roller grip, rust proof;


Minimum 1.0 mm;


Approx. top diameter: 30 cm Approx. height: 30 cm; volume 0.01 m3


450 g.

4. Jerry Cans, 10 litre
Semi-collapsible jerry cans

(Semi-collapsible jerry cans are the preferred option because of the much lower shipping volume, but they are sometimes difficult to obtain locally.)


Semi-Collapsible plastic jerry cans for drinking water;


Manufactured of food grade HDPE (i.e. containing no toxic elements);


Semi-collapsible; built-in carrying handle, wide enough for adult hand; screw cap linked to container by polymide string; jerry can opening 35 mm (inner diameter); 0.6 mm thick walls; Impact resistance: Must withstand drop from minimum 2.5 m containing maximum volume;



-20 to 50°C;


200 g/pce;


150 pcs/wooden crate. Each crate weighs 49 kg, volume 0.38 m3

Non-collapsible jerry cans

As above, except non-collapsible, weight 400 g/pce; 1 mm thick walls; jerry can opening 40 mm (inner diameter)

5. Kitchen Sets Kitchen

Sets - Type A

a) 1 aluminium cooking pot, 7 litre, minimum thickness 1.75 mm, with lid minimum thickness 1 mm, two cast aluminium handles, sandpaper finish.

b) 1 aluminium cooking pot, 5 litre, as above, minimum thickness 1.6 mm.

c) 5 aluminium bowls, minimum thickness 1 mm, 1 litre capacity, rolled edge border, sandpaper finish.

d) 5 deep aluminium plates, minimum thickness 1 mm, 1 litre capacity, sandpaper finish.

e) 5 aluminium cups, minimum thickness 1 mm, 0.3 litre capacity, with handle, rolled edge border, sandpaper finish.

f) 5 stainless steel table spoons, polished finish.

g) 5 stainless steel table forks, polished finish.

h) 5 stainless steel table knives, polished finish.

i) 1 kitchen knife with stainless steel blade, cutting edge 14/15 cm long, 2.5 cm wide with moulded plastic handle.

j) 1 galvanized steel bucket, 15 litre, 0.5 mm thick, tapered with raised bottom, curled brim and metal arch handle.


Individual carton: 30 × 30 × 33 cm = 0.02 m2


Approx. 5.5 kg

Kitchen Sets - Type B

Consists of the

following items: a, b, c, (or d) e, f and optionally i).


4 sets per carton: 56 × 56 × 19.5 cm = 0.06 m2

Kitchen Sets - Type C

Consists of the following items: a, c, (or d) e and f.


4 sets per carton: 54 × 54 × 19.5 cm = 0.05 m2

6. Reinforced plastic tarpaulins in sheets

Sheets are 4 m × 5 m each.


Made of woven high density polyethylene fibre; warp × weft (12/14 × 12/14 per inch); laminated on both sides with low density polyethylene with reinforced rims by heat sealing on all sides and nylon ropes in hem; 1000 dernier Min. Stabilized against ultraviolet rays and excess heat for long outdoor exposure (1.5% loss of strength in yarn and in lamination); provided with strong aluminium eyelets or equivalent on four sides of the sheet at 100 cm centre to centre.


Thickness: 200-230 microns; weight 190 g/m2; density 0.9-.95 kg/cubic decimetre.



Min. 600 N both directions of warp and weft (BS 2576, 50 mm grab test or equivalent).

Tear resistance:

100 N Min. both directions (BS 4303 wing tear or equivalent).



Flammability: flash point above 200°C.


Blue one side white on reverse; UNHCR logo.


4.8 kg per piece, packed in bales of five, weight per bale 22.5 kg; volume per bale 0.045 m3.

7. Soap bars:


Min. 70% fatty acid: max. 20% moisture, max. NAOH 0.2% max. NACL 1.25%; no mercury content. Local standards of lower content of fatty acid might be acceptable.


Soap bars should be approx. 125 g/piece.

8. Double Fly double fold centre pole tent

Family sized tent.

External dimensions:

4.4 m × 4.4 m (outer fly), surface area 19.36 m2, centre height 3 m.



4 m × 4 m, floor area 16 m2, centre height 2.75 m, side wall height 1.8 m (25 cm distance between outer and inner fly).


Cotton canvas; 100% cotton yarn (10/2 × 10/2 twisted in warp 42/44, weft 24/26 threads per inch, plain weave); 15-16 oz/m2. Canvas to be free of weaving defects and finishing faults adversely affecting strength, waterproofness and durability. Water proofing/resistance to water penetration by paraffin wax emulsion and aluminium acetate to withstand 20 - 30 cm hydrostatic head. Stabilization against decomposition of the fabric (rot-proofing) with copper napthanate.


4 aluminium or bamboo poles for roof corners (2 m × 22 mm diameter); heavy duty sectional steel tube (or aluminium or bamboo) centre pole, plastic clad or galvanized (3 m × 50 mm diameter). Complete with ropes made of 9mm 3 strand polypropylene; 24 T-Type bars 40 mm × 40 mm, 50 cm long; 12 iron pegs (25 cm × 9 mm diameter), one iron hammer of 1 kg; one repair kit with one straight and one curved needle with 20 m of suitable thread for tent repair, illustrated assembly instructions with list of contents.


Reinforced PVC groundsheet 250g/m2.


All rolled into a canvas bag. Weight 100-130 kg, dimensions: 2 m × 50cm diametre (0.4 m3).

Annex 2 - Planning Vehicle Needs

1. Assessing needs

Assessing vehicle needs involves not only calculating the vehicles which are needed, but also assessing what vehicles it will be possible to operate and maintain in the area of operation. Make sure that the existing infrastructure (roads, workshops and fuel) is fully evaluated before obtaining vehicles.

What will the vehicles be used for and how many are needed?

Heavy vehicles

i. Will the vehicles be used for - transporting people or relief supplies?

ii. What will be the frequency of use (one off transport, or scheduled deliveries for distribution)?

iii. What is the total quantity (of goods or people) to be transported?

iv. Are any special configurations necessary: if a truck is to carry dangerous goods e.g. fuel, ensure that dangerous goods regulations are followed.

Light vehicles

i. How many vehicles are needed for staff? In an emergency, it is advisable to have a ratio between light vehicles and international staff of 1:1. In more stable situations, slightly fewer vehicles per staff member may be acceptable.

ii. What special vehicles might be needed (e.g. ambulances for transporting vulnerable refugees)? The main categories of light vehicles which might be useful are: sedan and minibus (4x2 only), and station wagon, van, pick-up, and ambulance (both 4x2 or 4x4).

What configurations of vehicles are needed?

i. What is the condition of the routes that will be used? tarmac roads, good unpaved roads (with stone or macadam surface), sand or dirt trails, or no roads (in which case consider animals for transport).

ii. How long are the journeys expected to be?

Light vehicles

i. What configuration light vehicles should be used according to road conditions: 4×2 or 4×4?

Heavy vehicles

i. What configuration for heavy vehicles should be used according to the road conditions: 4×2, 4×4, 6×2 or 6×4?

ii. Should trailers be used? Trailers can be more economical, i.e. - with a relatively small investment one is able to transport twice the amount of cargo. The following configurations for heavy vehicles (trucks/trailers) could be appropriate:

i. Truck with trailer (6×2 or 6×4) with a combined capacity of 20-40 MT for transport up to 3,000 km 2-7 day trip, normally for use on tarmac roads;

ii. Truck (6×4, 4×4, 4×2) for intermediary distribution with a capacity of 10-15 MT (normally 1 day trip) on unpaved roads with stone or macadam surface;

iii. 5-10 MT capacity trucks on tracks and trails (generally for trips of half a day or less up to distribution points).


Prior to purchasing trailers, the following additional questions should be considered:

i. Are the roads and bridges suitable to drive on with trailers?

ii. Are the drivers capable of driving with trailers?

iii. What are the regulations in the country regarding the weight and length of truck-trailer combinations?

iv. What type of trailer is needed? Can the trucks be operated with trailers or would tractor trailers be better? Can the trailer be transported on the truck on empty runs? Ensure there are air-brakes, a towing hook, extra fuel tanks and spare wheels. Particular attention must be paid to the tow-bar strength and number of axles.

What makes and models of vehicles would be appropriate?

i. What makes of vehicles are maintained (to supplier specifications) by local service dealers? The heavy vehicle fleet must be standardized to suitable makes and models already operating in the country. If a mixture of models of truck is unavoidable, it may still be possible to standardize to a single make.

ii. What is the availability of vehicles: the spare capacity of local transport companies, and possibility of purchasing new or second hand vehicles?

Infrastructure (fuel, workshops)

i. Is there a service network available with the know how to maintain the fleet, or will it be necessary to set up dedicated workshops and fuel stations?

ii. Are there sufficient spare parts and tyres in the local market, or must they be imported?

iii. Is fuel (diesel and gasoline) and are lubricants readily available in the area of operation? (note the number of fuel stations, capacity and likely availability of fuel at each).

2. Sourcing vehicles

Vehicles (whether light or heavy) can be: rented locally, provided by the government, loaned from another UN Office in the region, re-deployed from another UNHCR operation, or purchased. Heavy duty vehicles can also be provided under a standby arrangement (see Catalogue of Emergency Response Resources, Appendix 1). If trucks are to be purchased internationally, send a request to the Supply and Transport Section in Headquarters by completing the appropriate form (Operations Analysis Form for Trucks - request this from Headquarters if necessary). In order to analyze the procurement options, take into account the following:

i. Expected length of operation. If the expected length of the operation is short, (3 - 6 months), or the situation is very unstable, it may be better to rent, loan or re-deploy rather than purchase vehicles, because of high initial costs;

ii. Comparative costs. Compare the cost of renting vehicles with the cost of purchasing them (including delivery costs). Consider purchasing second-hand vehicles if they are in good enough condition;

iii. Servicing and other benefits. Take into account that renting vehicles will include servicing and other benefits (such as drivers, insurance) which would need to be separately arranged if the vehicles are re-deployed, purchased, or loaned;

iv. Time. Light vehicles can be quickly deployed from the UNHCR emergency stockpile (see Appendix 3). Purchasing new vehicles can be very time consuming, because of long delivery times (up to 8 months if they are manufactured to order, which is usually necessary for the configuration of heavy duty vehicles for UNHCR operations). If there is an urgent need for heavy vehicles, inform Supply and Transport Section at Headquarters of the vehicle requirements and infrastructure, who will look into possible options (re-deployment, purchase etc.) in the international market and regionally. If it becomes necessary to purchase vehicles, early notification and action will be a priority;

v. Other options. Consideration could also be given to the possibility of "grafting" the heavy vehicle fleet onto a large national or regional transport organization. That organization's infrastructure, including workshops, offices, etc., would then be immediately available as would its accumulated experience of operating in the country.

The vehicles exclusively involved in the operation should be individually numbered and distinctively marked -for example, white with blue markings.

3. Fuel and Maintenance Facilities

There must be adequate servicing facilities, including sufficient supplies of fuel and spare parts. Maintenance and repair must be carried out regularly and as per manufacturers' standards, either through local service dealers or through a UNHCR workshop. Regular maintenance will prevent minor problems turning into major ones. Proper driving and care by the drivers can be an important factor in keeping vehicles on the road and prolonging their life. Adequate training, incentives and supervision will be the key to this.

Fuel and lubricants

· Assured supplies of fuel and lubricants must be available where they are needed (make sure oil and lubricants are in accordance with manufacturer's specifications - and new). This may require separate, secure storage arrangements and an additional fleet of fuel tanker vehicles. It may be necessary to establish fuel stations to ensure fuel supplies.

Spare parts and workshops

Consumable items (filters, shock absorbers, brake linings etc.) and spare parts must be available, especially tyres: tyre life may be no more than 10,000 km in rough desert or mountain conditions. Arrangements for maintenance and repair include:

i. Making use of or strengthening existing facilities:

Existing commercial, government or UN facilities (e.g. WFP or UNDPKO) may be able to service additional UNHCR vehicles or could be strengthened in order to do so;

ii Establishing dedicated workshops:

Workshops may have to be established by UNHCR solely for the operation - for example a central, fully equipped workshop, including personnel, tools, soldering capacity, spare parts store, and transport administration office. In addition, depending on the size and area of the operation, consider also having smaller workshops and transport administration offices closer to isolated destinations;

iii. Mobile workshops and heavy recovery vehicles may also be necessary:

Always ensure there is recovery capacity for trucks, such as mobile workshops, recovery trucks, winches, etc.

Annex 3 - Stock Management Systems

This annex gives an indication of the basic components of a stock management system. The minimum level of controls necessary will vary with each operation. Simple controls and accounting established from the start will be much more effective than a sophisticated system later. No system will be effective unless it is understood by those required to operate it. Training will be required for all staff involved. All these documents are UNHCR forms apart from waybills. The computerized UNHCR Commodity Tracking System (CTS) relies on the information contained in this paper system.

1. Stock Control

i. Pipeline report: each order or consignment (including contributions in kind), should be tracked using a pipeline report. This records all stages of stock movement from the initial request for goods through, as applicable, requests for tenders, placing of order, notification of shipment, planned delivery time and place, actual time of arrival, and distribution details.

ii. A simple board where progress can be monitored visually is likely to be very useful and can be set up at once.

2. Source Documents

Source documents identify the quantity of the commodity, specifications, packaging, value and origin.

i. Purchase order. This defines the order: specifications, number of units ordered, price/unit, total price, packaging, date of purchase, supplier, destination etc. It should make reference to the legally enforceable standard conditions of contract.

ii. Contribution Advice Form (CAF)/Donation Advice Form (DAF). When contributions in kind are pledged, Fund-raising and Donor Relations Services in Headquarters issues a CAF or DAF. This gives similar information to a purchase order and the information should be used to track the goods until final distribution in order to account to the donor as stipulated in the CAF/DAF.

3. Authorization Documents

i. Release Request. This is a formal request for goods which authorizes warehouse staff to release goods from stock.

ii. Transporting/Warehouse Request. This gives formal approval for NGOs to use UNHCR transport or warehouse facilities for their goods.

4. Certification Documents

There are a number of documents which are used to certify that goods have been received, delivered, and/or sent in good order.

i. Waybill/Air Waybill/Bill of Lading. This is the shipping document and contract with the transporter showing the destination and accompanies the goods from the port of loading to the contracted destination in duplicate. This document is the basis for customs clearance and enables staff to check goods actually received against those loaded. Duplicate copies are also used by procurement staff to verify goods dispatched against those ordered (i.e. against the purchase order form). Where the movement is between UNHCR warehouses, use the delivery note (attached as Annex 4).

ii. Release Note. This is used when goods are collected at the warehouse and the goods leave UNHCR's stock control system - the person (driver or consignor, for example an NGO) who collects the goods certifies that goods have been received in good order.

iii. Delivery Note (see Annex 4). The delivery note is sent with the goods when they are transported (under UNHCR's control) to another location (for example another UNHCR warehouse). The receiver of goods signs the delivery note to certify that the goods have been received in good order, and a signed copy is returned to the sender. It is used when the goods have been sent by rail, road or barge (an "Aircargo Manifest" is used where the goods have been transported by air).

iv. Receipt Note: Where goods have been received without a delivery note or waybill/bill of lading, a receipt note is signed by the receiver of the goods and sent to the sender for certification.

5. Warehouse documents

Whatever the size of the warehouse or store and wherever it may be located, the minimum recommended book-keeping controls are those outlined below. They must be complemented by routine inspection to ensure goods are properly stored and protected, and by a periodic audit.

i. Daily Incoming Shipment Log Sheet. This is used to record basic details of all inward consignments - description of goods, quantity, supplier, name of person receiving and date of receipt, with cross reference to waybills (above).

ii. Daily Outgoing Shipment Log Sheet. This is used to record basic details of all outward consignments - description of goods, quantity, destination, and date of dispatch, (with cross reference to waybill, delivery or receipt note).

iii. Stock card (sometimes called a bin card). One stock card for each different commodity in the warehouse is used to record every in and out movement of that particular commodity, with cross reference to the appropriate entries in the incoming/outgoing log sheets. It gives a running balance. Where possible those actually receiving and issuing the goods should not also be responsible for maintaining the stock card.

iv. Daily stock report (see Annex 4). This gives basic details of goods in stock and the quantity, value, weight of these commodities for each warehouse location.

v. Loss/damage report: to report loss or damage to stock (whether incurred during transport or storage).

Movement of goods

The easiest control to ensure that goods reach their destination may be to make (final) payment (for the goods, of the driver or transporter, as applicable) conditional on return of the certified duplicate of the Delivery Note or Waybill. More comprehensive controls and measures (e.g. monitors) may be required later, and are anyway needed to ensure that goods reach their destination (in the worst case, this control only indicates that they did not). But provided the signatories for both authorization and receipt are carefully chosen, and signatures controlled (combining them with a UNHCR seal is recommended), this should be an effective initial safeguard.

Annex 4

Annex 4