Field Ready: Stories The origin behind Field Ready: Eric James tells how things got started

"I've seen it too many times," Dr. Eric James, Field Ready's Co-Founder and Executive Director, explains. "For lack of something simple, like a small replacement part, operations ground to a halt. There had to be a better way!"

Eric on a field assessment

Traveling from Kampala to Juba, Eric stopped in a rural part of South Sudan. All the vehicles there were broken except one; and that one vehicle was working only because parts were cannibalized from all the others. Eric describes the situation, "This meant that health staff didn't see patients, water engineers didn't repair wells and social protection specialists couldn't look after then needs of the most vulnerable."

This story of 'doing without' runs across the aid sector and deeply impacts not just people affected by disasters but also those who try to help. "In the places where we work, there is no express delivery...no way to quickly fill needs, both big and small," Eric reflects on his roughly two decades of experience in places like Liberia, Somalia and Afghanistan.

A well-supplied refugee camp in Pakistan...if all of them can be that way

“There have been improvements to humanitarian logistics over the last decade or so, but nothing really transformative," Eric explains. "What we needed is a re-think about supply chains in a way that leads to dramatic improvement. The founding idea behind Field Ready is that most of what we need can be made where it's needed.

"Our innovation is about creating an approach that enables this across the aid sector," Eric adds, "It's not about a single product or service. It's about problem solving across programming areas...it's about meeting real needs in ways that are cheaper, faster and better than what is currently available."

We have a great team...most of them couldn't be in this pic because they were in the field

"Our team is deeply passionate about seeing people's lives - and indeed the entire aid sector - improved through better ways of working," Eric explains. These 'better ways' include the right use of technology, different methods such as design thinking, and the best practices from aid.

This eventually became the premise of Field Ready.

Manufacturing kit in use in South Sudan

The core ideas are representative in our logo, with the bucket and the screw. While supply chains are not tangible, a bucket is a common item in the humanitarian sector and is life saving and cross-sectoral. A screw is an essential item in making and building, and this item fixes and enables creativity. Often times all that is needed to fix something is a screw, or one small part.

"We reach some measure of sustainability through training," Eric explains. "And we prefer to share what we know as widely as possible so 'open source', conferences and writing are important to us." This gives the work of Field Ready wider reach and the ability to transform humanitarian supply chains at scale.

Ultimately, Eric wants these situations to be met with local solutions-instead of waiting for replacement parts-why not fix them!

Field Ready engineer, Abi Bush, manufacturing useful items on-the-go in Nepal using vehicle power

Humanitarian Supplies Made-in-the-Field

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