Liquid logistics: Kenya-Tanzania water deal

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October 31, 2013

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If you have had the pleasure of viewing the cinematic masterpiece titled “The Avengers”, you will understand the purpose of Nick Fury. For those of you in the dark, Nick Fury is a mysterious agent that assembles the team of varied superheroes who eventually fall under the name “Avengers”. In the logistics industry, we have one such character, albeit with 100% less eye-patch: liquids logistics.

With rising tensions between Tanzania and her east African sister countries over her exclusion from beneficial treaties and agreements, October saw some of the ill will with Kenya erased, motivated by an essential resource: water.

Where Kenya and Tanzania have failed to see eye to eye in terms of policy, the issue of sanitation and water security is one dear to everyone’s heart. This is why in October, the two nations came to a $200,000 agreement that will see the residents of Tanzania’s Sirari area receive clean water from Kenya’s Isebania Town, which neighbors the Northern Tanzanian region. Over 10,000 are set to benefit from this philanthropic endeavor aimed at providing a sustainable solution for water shortages in that part of Tanzania.

With water needing to cross the border between Kenya and Tanzania, logistics instantly becomes an important part of the equation. Liquid logistics comes into play regardless of whether water is to be moved via underground pipe systems or specially modified trucks and tankers designed to freight clean water.

Photo Credit: Freedom Phoenix

Photo Credit: Freedom Phoenix

The same core principles apply regardless of what liquid is being shipped: keep the cargo free of contamination and prevent leakage, which leads to waste or dangerous spills. These are universal, whether in the transportation of water, milk, beer or even liquid fuels such as diesel. It is also important to observe these two principles regardless of mode of transportation: pipelines or pipe networks must be maintained to reduce risk of contaminants entering the system or product leaking through damaged sections of the piping. Moving logistics by road, whether large, specialized commercial vehicles or small scale domestic milk farmers’ vehicles, is subject to these “laws” as well.

While commercial transportation of liquids must adhere to safety policies specific to the given industries, the basic ideas remain the same. Large scale transportation of fluids for consumer use or further processing into consumer products will have more of a focus on preventing contamination, both to protect their customers and to adhere with national health standards. Considerations such as transportation temperatures come into play as in the case of edible fluids, contaminants may develop from within given proper conditions, as is the case with milk and milk products, which are particularly vulnerable to spoiling in the absence of climate controlled storage.

In the industrial sector, however, the key focus is usually on ensuring all the product remains in the assigned containment. When dealing with materials such as large quantities of fuel or insecticide, any potential leaks could have an adverse effect on the region of the leak, or even the residents of the area, with exposure to certain industrial chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses. It is therefore prudent for such companies to guarantee that no such leak occurs, if not out of compassion for the residents of a give area, then out of an interest in avoiding potential law suits for damages caused and being skewered n the court of public opinion, as BP endured after the now famous oil spill.

Liquid logistics, when applied to philanthropic purposes such as the delivery of relief water, takes on a special dimension that sees both concerns as equally weighty. Relief fluids contaminated are of no use to those in need of them at the risk of poisoning in all its forms. The concept of wasting relief fluids is similarly horrifying considering the shortage of the same.

The key lessons of liquid logistics therefore transcend all industry differences, unifying consumer goods players, with industrial innovators and the brave men and women working to ensure that the hungry are fed, just as water, and the need to get it from one place to the next, has begun to heal the rift between the East African countries. Now that I’ve unmasked liquids logistics as your very own Nick Fury, I leave it up to you to discover the identities of the rest of the team. Are you up to the challenge?


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