The IFRC’s OLPSCM offer and system

The IFRC manages warehouses globally to pre-position emergency response stocks in all regions of the world using Regional Logistics Units (RLUs). See the Stock positioning section of the Warehousing chapter for more details.

The IFRC’s stock pre-positioning strategy takes several variables into consideration, including turnover (see the British Red Cross stocks in IFRC’s OLPSCMs section below for more details) and usage.

The stocks pre-positioned in the IFRC’s global warehouses are held through various mechanisms:

  • Federation-owned stocks (FOS): items belonging to IFRC, stored in IFRC-managed warehouses.
  • Vendor-consignment inventory (VCI): items owned by suppliers but stored in IFRC-managed warehouse.
  • Supplier-reserved stocks (SRS): items stored at suppliers’ facilities, reserved for IFRC purchases.
  • Partner National Societies’ stocks (PNS): items owned by PNS, stored in IFRC-managed warehouses.

Through the global logistics service (GLS) agreement, IFRC offers to hold stock for other National Societies in those warehouses. Each warehouse is managed by the OLPSCM and operates following their own standard operating procedure. Copies of each OLPSCM’s standard operating procedure are available to stock-holding PNSs upon request.

This stock is owned by the PNS but managed by the IFRC staff in the region. The GLS defines the terms and conditions of this relationship; there are costs associated with the storage, handling and shipping of PNS-owned stocks. In return, the IFRC offers stock management services, such as stock rotation, quality control at reception, consignment preparation and freight services. The OLPSCMs share monthly stock reports and annual stocktake reports with stock-holding PNSs and participate in their stock strategy upon request.

British Red Cross stocks in IFRC’s OLPSCMs

The British Red Cross holds stock in four of the IFRC’s regional warehouses. This corresponds to the areas of focus defined in the British Red Cross international strategy and to the countries where the British Red Cross maintains ongoing partnerships:

Warehouse locationRegion
Harare, ZimbabweEast and Southern Africa
Panama City, PanamaAmericas and overseas branches (OSBs)
Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaAsia
(Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean)

The variety of items the British Red Cross pre-positions in each warehouse varies, but they are mostly non-food items (NFIs) and follow the IFRC standard product catalogue specifications. The mix of items in stock in each location varies based on regional context, overall stock targets and British Red Cross budgetary constraints, on the IFRC’s access to stocks in the region and on stock-holding PNSs and the resources available to manage stocks.

The type and quantity of items that the British Red Cross pre-positions in each location is agreed with the emergencies team and the regional teams on an annual basis through the stock strategy review process (see the British Red Cross stock ownership, strategy and review section below).

The quantities held in stock in each location are agreed on an annual basis, with suggestions made by the logistics officer for global emergencies (LOGE), based on several variables:


  • Annual stock turnover.


  • Rate at which stock is issued and replaced. This should be more than one, or the set stock target is too high and stock will sit in warehouses for too long before it is used, running the risk of becoming damaged or obsolete.


  • The IFRC’s stock strategy and access to other forms of ownership (VCI, SRS, FOS) and other PNSs stock strategies where possible.


  • The British Red Cross will try to bridge gaps between the IFRC’s global stock strategy and other partners’ ability to pre-position stocks.


  • Replenishment lead times.


  • The quantities held in stock will depend on lead times to source more of the same: if the lead time is longer than the time it takes for stocks to be depleted, then stock levels will be higher. If the market is able to supply replenishment items quickly, then small quantities can be held in stock.


  • Historical demand for stock.


  • Items in higher demand will be stocked in larger quantities.

British Red Cross stock ownership, strategy and review

The stock that British Red Cross pre-positions in IFRC‘s OLPSCM units belongs to the British Red Cross emergencies team and is managed by the international logistics team. The LOGE has direct relationships with the warehouse team in each OLPSCM and regular meetings are held between British Red Cross and IFRC staff to report on stock status and stock movements.

The British Red Cross logistics team regularly reports directly to the international directorate on performance against stock targets, through the weekly logistics status report and the international directorate’s quarterly reports (international dashboard report).

Every year, the logistics team suggests reviews to the British Red Cross’ stock offer in view of the data (see the British Red Cross stocks in IFRC’s OLPSCMs section above). The emergencies team is free to accept or refuse the proposed changes, based on their understanding of the future responses of the British Red Cross and on regional priorities.

It is important to understand the segregation between ownership and management of stock: logistics must seek approval from emergencies every time a stock movement is considered. For more details on budgeting for pre-positioned stock, see the British Red Cross management of stocks section.

In 2020, the British Red Cross current stock strategy and targets were as below:

Item descriptionKuala LumpurDubaiPanamaZimbabwe
Blanket cotton10,000
Blanket light thermal1,500
Blanket medium thermal20,00015,0003,500
Plastic bucket3,0002,500
Family tent500
Hygiene kit2,0001,000750
Jerry can 10L8,0004,0001,500
Jerry can 20L3,500
Kitchen set A6,0003,000750
Kitchen set B-
Mosquito net - large11,0005,0001,5003,000
Plastic mat
(sleeping mat)
Shelter toolkit4,000
WH tent21
Watsan kit 5-
Rapid latrines-
Bbowl and ptrap
Squat plates-

Available to download here.

Note: the logistics team share the updated stock levels with the entire international directorate on a weekly basis in the logistics status report. Current stock levels and latest stock movements are listed on the first pages of the report.

Where the OLPSCM’s storage capacity becomes insufficient, there is an option to store items in one of the UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) warehouses. UNHRD maintains a network of strategically located hubs for pre-positioning relief items and humanitarian support equipment. It can provide storage free of charge in Ghana, Italy, UAE, Malaysia, Spain and Panama. It is also possible to source certain items from the UNHRD network. For more details, liaise with the UK-based logistics team.

A screenshot of a map showing locations of UNHRD hubs in Kuala Lumpur, Dubai, Brindisi, Accra, Las Palmas and Panama

Read the next section on Stock management principles here.

Download the full section here.