The project Humanitarian Supplies Management System (SUMA) started in 1992 as a joint effort of Latin
American and Caribbean countries under the auspices of the Pan American Health
Organization, the Regional Office of the World Health Organization, with the
financial support of the government of the Netherlands. Its main objective is to
improve the management of humanitarian aid, by strengthening the national
capacity to manage effectively the humanitarian supplies, bringing them to the
affected people in an adequate and convenient way.
was SUMA created?
When a major disaster strikes, a few hours following the
mobilization of national and international solidarity, an abundance of supplies
arrive by different means. Many of these supplies have not been requested and
are not useful or of first priority to cover the needs of an emergency. On the
contrary, they compromise the efficient reception, storage, classification,
control and distribution of these supplies, consuming relief workers’ scarce
time and resources.
can SUMA be of help?
SUMA helps to manage donated supplies by classifying them
from the moment they arrive at their point of entry, and by establishing a
prioritization system for the distribution of the supplies to the community,
according to the needs of the affected people. The SUMA system also provides
information of the flow of donations and their characteristics, allowing to
produce reports for donors, national authorities, humanitarian agencies and the
media about the received supplies and their distribution to the affected areas.
This is crucial to guarantee a transparency and accountability in the management
of the relief supplies.
SUMA methodology can also be used in normal times for the inventory control of
the warehouse of for example hospitals, pharmacies, health centers,
This all is achieved applying the SUMA methodology,
through the integrated efforts of trained local human resources, specially
designed materials, and a flexible and easy-to-use software
does SUMA work?
The system is composed of three levels:
SUMA Field Unit
SUMA CENTRAL is meant to be used wherever national authorities are
managing a disaster or emergency.
this level, the principal duties include:
Defining the parameters to be used by the Field Units, such
as reception sites, shipment directories, main user
Creation and set-up of Field
Integration of information sent by the Field Units
Providing consultations and making up reports which serve to
aid the decision-making process and promote inter-institutional
Maintenance of the system tables
The FIELD UNIT is designed to operate at points of entry or reception
sites, such as borders, water or river ports, and large storage centers (centers
where supplies arrive during emergencies, such as airports, collection stands,
The main tasks at this level are:
Sorting and identification of supplies using priority labels,
under the categories:
Classification of supplies by categories, subcategories and
Selective checks on items
Making up various reports on the content of the supplies
registered at the Field Units
Making delivery receipts for the
Consolidating data on diskettes to be sent to the CENTRAL
The SUMA Field Unit uses manual registration forms in case of
computer breakdown, or in the event that its use is required for gathering
The WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT module is a tool that registers the arrival and the delivery
of supplies at the storage centers or warehouses. Along with supplies,
warehouses receive a diskette with information coming from the Field Units
and/or the Central Level. This allows for internal management, control and
coordination with other institutions and organizations that may be working on
the emergency. For example, the Red Cross might allocate a donation of medicines
to the Ministry of Health, and SUMA enables solid and efficient tracking of such
The main duties at this level are:
Tracking of local inventory
Elaboration of stock reports and deliveries by a number of
Inventory follow-up of other subordinate
from these three modules, there is another module available, the Pledges
which manages information on supplies before their actual arrival on site
(those supplies in the ¨pipeline¨). It serves to follow-up on pledges made by
donors and the needs expressed by recipient countries and then assigning pledges
to the requirements. The module can be installed independently from the other
three modules and is fully compatible with SUMA software.
is needed to install SUMA?
The minimum technical requirements to install the SUMA
software (version 5.1) are: (for Windows version):
Processor: 486 or higher
RAM: 16Mb or greater
Operating system: Windows, 3.x, Windows 95 up to 98 2nd
Free space on Hard Disk: 20 Mb
Printer: any printer
Floppy disk: 3.5 inch, 1.44 Mb
CD ROM: preferred for installation process
is SUMA organized and who operates it in a disaster?
The first step is to train local human resources in-country
about the organization and management of emergency supplies and the use of the
SUMA software to classify, sort out and assign priority levels. When a disaster
strikes, these people will be able to install and operate the system at the
different sites of supplies management. In cases of major disasters or in places
where SUMA is not established, an international team can provide help with the
intention to train locals to take over the system management in a
self-sufficient way in minimal time.
can be trained?
Those who can be trained include staff from
national government entities responsible for emergency coordination, as well as
those from public, private, non-governmental and other organizations involved in
or related to emergency relief. In addition are members of the international
community, such as international NGOs, UN agencies and bilateral
is necessary to receive training?
The promotion and coordination of SUMA is
achieved through country entities involved with emergencies and disasters, such
as ministries of health, emergency committees, Red Cross affiliates, etc. Any
institution interested in receiving training should contact the office in charge
of disaster management in the national Ministry of Health or through the local
PAHO/WHO office. The SUMA system was designed with special regard to the
participation of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs).]
whom belongs the information compiled by SUMA?
SUMA facilitates data collection for easier decision-making.
All the data entered and processed by the system are property of the affected
country under the auspices of the authorities responsible for emergency
SUMA been used in any emergencies?
Some of the main emergencies and disasters where SUMA has
been implemented include:
- Hurricane Louis, Caribbean Islands..(1995)
- Hurricane Cesar, Central America..(1996)
- Earthquake Nazca, Peru..(1997)
- El Niño (ENOS), Peru and
- Earthquake Aiquile-Totora, Bolivia..(1998)
- Floods in Chiapas, México..(1998)
- Hurricane George, Dominican Republic..(1998)
- Hurricane Mitch, Central America..(1998)
- Earthquake Armenia, Colombia..(1999)
- Complex emergency, East Timor..(1999)
- Floods, Venezuela..(1999/2000)
- Volcano eruptions, Ecuador..(1999/2000)
- Earthquakes, El
is the latest SUMA version?
Since its beginning, SUMA has had several versions trying
with each new version to satisfy even more the needs expressed by the users, who
have been testing and operating the system in various disaster situations in
The new version 5.2 for Windows (95 or higher, now compatible
with Windows 2000, XP, ME and NT) is currently being used, which has been
launched officially midst of 2002.
can I get more information?
To obtain more additional information about
SUMA, as well as the SUMA
programs, manuals, practices, mission reports, etcetera, please see other
sections of our Website, where they can be downloaded free of
charge to your computer:
SUMA is also available on CDROM, which includes all the components to learn, teach and use the methodology (software, manuals, training materials and background documents).
To obtain this CDROM and other information, please contact one
of the following
PAHO/WHO EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
525 23rd Street,
Washington, D.C. 20037-2895
Phone: (202) 974-3520
E-mail: email@example.com /
PAHO/WHO EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PROGRAM-
Subregional Office for South
Av. Amazonas 2889 y La Granja, Edificio Naciones Unidas
Tel.: (593-2) 246-0274 / 246-0277
Fax : (593-2)
PAHO/WHO EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PROGRAM-
Subregional Office for CENTRAL
A.P. 3745-1000, San Jose, Costa Rica
Tel.: (506) 224-6395
/ 224-6690 / 224-6941
Fax: (506) 224-7758
PAHO/WHO EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PROGRAM-
OFFICE FOR The
P.O. Box N 508
Bridgetown, Barbados W.I.
A.P. 114, Plaza Mayor 1225, Costa Rica
Fax : (506) 290-0413