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It is common for humanitarian agencies manage a fleet of vehicles (cars, vans or motorbikes) to transport people. Agencies specialised in humanitarian logistics may also have to manage a fleet of trucks to regularly transport goods, water or construction materials. This chapter mainly focuses in on the management of light vehicle fleets used for the transport of people. For complementary considerations and technical information related to cargo transport, such as cargo configuration, route planning and scheduling or documentation for goods transport, please refer to the road transport chapter.


Other Humanitarian Agencies

It is very common for humanitarian agencies to operate simultaneously in certain locations. Pooling resources is a simple manner of optimising costs and recovering an investment. This is valid not only for transportation but also for common fleet facilities or resources, like a mechanical garage, a mechanic or a communications/radio room for movement tracking.

For sporadic use of other agencies vehicles, sharing of information and basic coordination mechanisms might be sufficient. In situations where agencies might make regular use of other agency fleet resources, both parties are strongly recommended to formalise partnerships through a Memorandum of Understanding, clearly outlying the benefits of the shared resources and clarifying the terms of accessing it. The contribution of each agency should grant equitable share of management efforts and expenditures.

Collective Public Transportation

In some locations collective transportation can result useful and cost-effective for moving people at regional or national level. This method can cover sporadic travels through safe routes not regularly covered by the agency. In addition, public road collective transport companies usually offer the service of transporting small parcels at low rates which can be useful in certain occasions.

Safety of public use vehicles and reliability of the service are major concerns when assessing collective public transportation means, and should be specifically evaluated for each candidate company offering the service. This is especially important in developing countries. Overall condition of the vehicles and availability of the basic safety means, maintenance routines, loading of the vehicle and drivers’ capabilities are some of the basic parameters to assess.

Individual Public Transportation (Taxi)

In urban settings, the use of taxis is one of the most common individual transport means. A taxi's flexibility, affordability and ease of management make of it a very good alternative or complement for the organisation’s fleet in urban operations. Taxies can be very useful for managing unplanned requests, and for scaling-up of transport based on need.

Safety and reliability of the taxi service are main concerns and should be specifically evaluated for each candidate company offering the service.

Where taxi companies are not well established or are not reliable, agreements with a specific pool of trustworthy taxi-drivers can be a solution. This is a common practice to cover the transport to and from the airport. This kind of agreements allow extended services such as prolonged stand-by time, wearable visibility from the agency, transport of goods, or handover of necessary material at arrival or departure such as mobile phone or keys.

Third-party Transport Providers

Although third-party transport providers are usually specialised in the transport of goods, in some locations they can also be trusted for the transport of people. The transport of people privately operated is mostly handled by renting companies that hire vans, minibuses or coaches with driver. This solution for transporting people is a suitable alternative for punctual and specific needs such as events gathering a significant number of people or for preventative security evacuations.

When regularly using third-party transport providers, a framework agreement can be useful to ease the management process. It is strongly recommended to include particular terms and conditions related to safety in the agreement and to duly assess that they are respected prior to the delivery of each service.

Please reference the road transport section of this guide for more information on the advantages and disadvantages of using third-party transportation, and the recommended terms for developing contracts for third-party transport.

The topic on rental of light vehicles (with or without driver) is covered below.


A template for a daily physical inspection might look like:

Image Modified

Adapted from IFRC


  • Define the time-frame of the rental and the time unit used for the rate - hour, day, week, month. If the rental exceeds a single day, it is recommended to agree on a daily rate and charge based on days word. If a monthly rate is used, clarify if calendar month, a period of four weeks or 30 days is covered in the contract.
  • Clarify who provides the driver - the humanitarian agency or the owner. If the owner provides the driver, clarify that the driers cost is included in the rental. In addition, the hours the driver can work must be agreed together with the rate for additional worked hours. If required, the owner should provide a second driver. It is advised that the owner provided drivers come with per diem/accommodation.
  • Define the party responsible of providing fuel:
    • If the agency provides fuel, make sure that the tank is full prior to its first use.
    • If the owner/rental company who provides fuel, ensure that the quantity in the tank is enough to achieve the programmed daily movements, avoiding losing valuable time going to the fuel station.
  • Identify the site where the vehicle will be parked at night -  the the agency’s compound or the owners. Where fuel is provided by the agency, the vehicle should be parked in the its a compound.
  • Ensure that there are no restrictions as to where the vehicle can go in any given country. This is especially important on particularly bad roads or in conflict areas.
  • Ensure the owner provides insurance and proof of insurance cover. Are passengers already insured or is additional cover required? A comprehensive insurance coverage preferred. The agency should avoid any liability related to car crashes with rental vehicles. Failure to clarify this can lead to dispute and legal demands between vehicle owners and humanitarian agencies.
  • Define who is responsible for breakdowns and regular maintenance. It is strongly recommended that responsibility for recovery and repairs falls under the vehicles owner’s responsibility: avoid the responsibility for maintenance or repairs on vehicles which are not owned, as the initial condition of the vehicle can lead to frequent breakdowns, abusive practices and enormous levels of investment. If possible, agree on getting the owner to provide a replacement vehicle at no extra charge in the event of a breakdown or maintenance, without causing undue delay to programmed activities.
  • Conduct a complete inventory of tools/utensils, keep a record of these items, and ensure the vehicle carries at least the minimum required tools in case of flat tire or minor repair.


It is advised that professional drivers pass a fitness testevery test every year and to install bi-annual checks for staff that drives occasionally. All staff should be advised to undertake a health check whenever they suspect they have a problem. Eye tests should be carried out by qualified optometrists, and should include a test of the driver’s horizontal and vertical range of vision.


TEMPLATE - Daily Movement Plan

TEMPLATE - Daily Cargo Vehicle Checklist

TEMPLATE - Discharge of Liability