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The ability to provide supplies quickly and cost effectively is often a great challenge due to the location of emergencies and access restrictions. To reduce the time taken to respond to emergencies, organisations hold critical material in “stock” at strategic locations in anticipation. A  This logistical technique that can improve responsiveness and is stock called stock pre-positioning. Pre-positioning of stocks supports business continuity, reduces delivery lead times, cuts the cost of transportation and overall contributes to a timely response. Stock pre-positioning is not limited to an organisation having its own physical stocks in a particular location, but also embraces vendor agreements that make a provision for access of stocks when the needs arise.


“Positioning of supplies to meet a perceived or anticipated need”.

Pre-positioning of stocks supports business continuity, reduces delivery lead times, cuts the cost of transportation and overall contributes to a timely response.

need arises.

Types of Pre-Positioning

Framework agreements


Many suppliers keep stock in their warehouses and it is important to be aware of their stock availability and the price. Suppliers may regularly send out to humanitarian organizations their monthly or quarterly stock position and can and often do so on request.

Government stocks


Some humanitarian organizations have global, regional or national warehouses. In case of emergency, the stocks in these warehouses are mobilised to support emergencies world-wide or within the local environmentthe emergency. Updated stock report reports of various warehouses may be periodically circulated within and outside the organisation.


Strategic pre-positioning networks

This is These networks are provided through collaboration of humanitarian organisations such cluster leadslike the, United Nations Humanitarian Response Deport (UNHRD -, regional Inter-agency working groups, and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC - depots.


  • the goods available are according to an organizations pre-approved specification;
  • goods in stock meet Sphere standards (time is taken before the emergency to source goods with the right specifications);
  • key emergency relief commodities are available at the right time;
  • goods are strategically positioned in the accessible locations;
  • goods are available at the right price that has been pre-negotiated and therefore able to buffer the excessively high cost that arises during high costs associated with emergencies;
  • reduce lead-time by eliminating the necessity for a tender process;
  • under these framework agreements suppliers guarantee to maintain a set cost for a specified time period and in most cases also agree to reserve and store a certain quantity of the product. This means that items are ready for emergency use and there is a guaranteed stock level at any given time (except when restocking is necessary after a large-scale sudden-onset emergency); and
  • FAs framework agreementss ensure that the vendors have a production capacity that can adequately replace stocks within very short time-frame. They may also provide back-up vendors to cover in the event of stock-outs with the principle vendor.


Stock Pre-positioning is a preparedness measure which can improve responsiveness. Pre-positioned stock enables response to immediate needs in an emergency and reduces the reduce lead time. This process ensures that the right product is in the right place at the right time, every time.

Links and further References


The United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot is a preparedness tool that supports the strategic stockpiling efforts of United Nations, international, governmental and non-governmental organizations. The network holds strategic stock reserves of emergency relief goods. For more details visit UNHRD website.