Second Harvest Asia (2HA) has been working on a research project of food banking feasibility analysis in Manila.
One goal of our feasibility study is to prepare the operational launch of Salu-Salo: Food bank Philippines, which we incorporated in March 2012, and to share our results with GFN.
Our research includes a range of topics such as corruption, government involvement, the NGO sector, feeding programs, food donors, and logistics. We have been able to meet a wide range of stakeholders to get their input and insights in order for us to complete our study. We are introducing two topics: corruption and logistics
Corruption in the Philippines
One question any donor has is, “How can you assure us our donations will go to those in need and not reenter the market?” Any food bank will tell you this is a concern that needs to be addressed in order to work with a food donor. We met a representative of an NGO that fights corruption and listened to his experience of addressing corruption in the Philippines. His advice was to publish the information about all food donations on our website so that the recipient agencies know how much of what donations are supposed to come to them. Often times, in-kind donations get lost during transfer because of mishandling of the items. Recipient agencies often are not informed in advance what they are supposed to receive from the original donor. This was the exact case with textbooks not reaching schools in the past. However, civil society groups and the Dept. of Education teamed up to create, “Textbook Count.” (http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTFIDFOR/Resources/4659186-1206285405516/1cEAP-PR.pdf) A unique collaboration that assures textbooks are delivered to the intended recipient schools by keeping the whole process transparent and including stakeholders at each stage. We can see many applications to food banking.
Logistics in the Philippines
Logistics is another important question for any food bank. “What is the easiest and least expensive way to move donations from the donor to the recipient agency?” We were lucky to receive insightful advice from a logistics expert. We have an opportunity to receive tons of okra from an exporter located about 170km north of Manila. We wondered how we could inexpensively transport these donations to Manila. His advice was to use long-distance buses. Apparently we found that this is a common method for people living in the countryside to send packages. You can load supplies onto a bus in an originating city and unload and distribute the supplies at a bus stop in Manila. If recipient agencies come to the bus stop to pick up the supplies we would not need a storage space nor delivery vehicles in Manila. We still need to work out many details, but this approach is very appealing for a food bank in the early stages of development
We also learned from the same expert how expensive logistics in the Philippines is because of their island geography and still under-developed infrastructure. One shocking fact is the high cost of shipping. It is almost the same price to ship a container from Oakland to Manila, as it is Manila to Davao. We find this logistics situation will be very challenging when food bank expands in the country.
We were lucky enough to find experts for insightful advice. We hope that we will be able to receive support from our good friends as Salu-Salo: Food Bank Philippines get fully operational in the near future.