1 March, 2024


Food Distribution A Challenge? Why Not Learn From Wuhan?

By Chandra Jayaratne

Chandra Jayaratne

A First Hand Account Case Study of How Wuhan Successfully Maintained It’s Social Infrastructure During the 2 Month Lockdown Over the Covid-19 Crisis

Wuhan is the capital city of Central China’s Hubei Province, with a population of 11 million people; divided in to 15 Districts  and further sub-divided in to 178 Sub Districts referred to as Streets; which house 1400 community Complexes. The more rural areas of the city have 1900 cluster villages. The City has a very efficient and effective governance structure; supported by committed, capable and productive state sector officials, all of whom were leveraged in effectively in maintaining the social infrastructure at optimum service effectiveness during the Covid crisis. The city in addition, hosts 7100 independent Residential Compounds, with their own Management Teams for assuring optimum property management services to the apartment households within each compound; with these services being organized by independent commercial service companies operated for profit, deploying highly efficient and committed staff: and levying management fees; these units are self-contained; including recreation, parks and shopping options and all other amenities and services. Wuhan city is run by state officials in a management structure designed to support each district operating like a municipality and the street sub districts, in lauding rural villages. operating as  as local government admin units; whereas the Residential Compounds operate under private management. Network co-ordination with inter linked network systems and communicating links were brought in to operation to assure the required transparent and seamless network linked governance during the crisis; thereby assuring logistics and services co-ordination operating with perfect harmony.

The lock down was effectively managed leveraging the state staff and property management staff, along with law enforcement; all of whom were collectively made accountable for effective lock down maintenance and as well as assuring all household requirement facilitation during the period; whilst ensuring strict compliance with set health care guidelines and regulatory regime. The 500,000 district staff were relieved of all routine work and deployed and engaged efficiently and effectively by District Leaders and Street Leaders; and efficient and effective systems of administration and support infrastructure were leveraged with required change/adaptation; whilst promoting creative and innovative risk management and  overcoming all present day challenges. There were many additional commitments willingly undertaken by the state staff during the crisis period. As far as Residential Compounds were concerned additional surcharge fees were levied on households and the property management teams delivered at an optimum the services required. 

The City borders were sealed off and the state provided all assistance and incentives (eg. for increased costs by allowing higher charges to be levied by providers), especially where the need to promote assure self-sufficiency was an imperative within the capabilities of the  in city production / agriculture and services centers. These centers were required, whilst continuing to optimize the existing capacity to seek additional enhancements, (whilst increasing growth options of the future) to establish new supply chain networks to meet any current supply shortfalls. All of which were created within days of initial signal.

Personnel required to work on state services or at private enterprises in support of supplies assurance were given incentives to remain within the production centers and operational sites during the period, whilst adhering with all necessary precautions and health care support requirements; and leveraging transport and lodging facilities etc. organized for all essential service providers in close proximity. ICT services were extensively used in this effort, especially in managing supply chains and logistics.

The key to the effectiveness of the lock down of residents was the efficiency and effectiveness of the distribution chain of food, essentials and medicines to be provided to all locked down households. Here many concurrently operated strategies were adopted including the following, which collectively supported the total needs of the locked down communities: 

1. Distribution supporting Residential Compounds; whose residents under normal circumstances mostly used the bigger privately owned supermarket chains of the city, despite each compound having a small family operated privately owned supermarket within the compound. Here these in-house supermarkets were selected as the key supply chain distributor and were given an incentive of higher pricing (an average premium surcharge of 30% over normal pricing)  for locked down services . Residents were requested to phone/ text / email orders as required to the In-house supermarket and the completed order were delivered and placed in front of the apartment; with no personal contact and settled by on-line banking based transfers. With the smaller in-house stores earning higher premiums, made the service with high efficiency attractive and earned a lager profit than usual. Where special items were to be ordered from specialist stores or outside supermarkets these were sent via internet and pre settled and delivered via designated volunteer couriers or via the property management, who broke bulk, sorted, packed and delivered orders by placing items in front of doors, all at a marginal extra charge. The property management even acted as placers and handlers of bulk orders for fish, meat, eggs and specialist supplies dependent on residential community needs.

2. District level, street and village level supply logistics followed a similar pattern and was administered and handled by the state staff, assisted by volunteers operating from homes and handling supply chain and transfer logistics. Supplies when received in central stores, bulk breaking, sorting and packaging were undertaken. Private businesses released 200 refer trucks to support distribution of perishables and had the support of equal number of volunteers to facilitate distribution, targeting distribution via option points at each micro level distribution targets. Here too all due settlements were made via mobile devices and credited to the central collector who settled suppliers of bulk. Here again all direct costs were recovered via sales and supplies.

3. A central donation fund was set up to which the central and state governments, businesses and individuals contributed and these funds covered the costs of and dues for supplies waived from those over 55, sick, marginalized, those without permanent incomes or those who temporarily lost jobs and livelihoods. These persons were provided essential basket of gods for daily sustenance of the family and self.

4. Central government and state governments purchased all perishable goods of farmers and producers and these were distributed to all  those referred to in 3above, ensuring that in addition to basic essentials the protein requirements for good health was also distributed in the form of perishable vegetables, fish, meat and eggs to the targeted households

5. In addition a central and state government promoted suppliers, businesses, wealthy individuals, international and local support NGO’s  and Non Resident Chinese via effective communications and ICT networks to volunteer financial support and providing relief packages to marginalized, sick and temporarily laid off workers , temporarily adopting them as their foster care givers  and also provide psycho social network support until normalcy 

6. The state did not impose any rationing as sufficient supplies were available from in city productions and supplies from other provinces and in any event households did not resort to excessive purchases having full reliance on the assurance of continuity of supplies

7. The state had in place before the crisis, efficient and effective private commercial and state offered internet and media services. The use of these services significantly expanded and they quickly adapted to meet the peak demands. In addition the state used these services very effectively with innovative pleasing and appealing content to meet all needs of the locked down families in Many areas including:  

              awareness building re crisis

              communicating and promoting effective social distancing and adoption of best health care practices

               updating the crisis related news and maintains positive mind set in the community with continuing commitment and determination to win the Covid battle

               ability to engage all ages of residents re their educational, exercise, relaxation recreation and creativity and innovation options including promoting production and design of content for broadcast 

Therefore the lockdown extending to parks, recreation and exercise centers being closed down and being in a confined space related stress was effectively managed

8. State maintained electricity, gas and water supplies without disruption. There were no issues with water supplies in any event; however electricity and gas supplies maintenance were stretched services. Sanitation and garbage collections caused the most stress, as state and property managers had to curtail services and manage it to new rules on limited days etc.; the providers and property managers had to extend extra effort in the face of capacity restrictions

9. City leadership with significant support from the central government took several strategic initiatives to help entrepreneurs and businesses extending support to maintain existing supply chains, strive to reach self-sufficiency with extra effort and productivity enhancements; and for this extended support included profitable margins, mobilizing required expertise and required additional labour, capacity expansion with technology and best practice support and advise and incentivizing innovation and offering additional incentive options for reaching self-sufficiency in basic food and essential goods and services; all this whilst expanding the health care needs with high quality but temporary facilities to be up and running within the shortest possible time

10. In making a comparisons of above it is essential that the effective and efficient social infrastructure maintenance during the crisis was duly supported by the traditional Chinese culture, natural drive and commitment, commitment to productivity, resilience, compliance, sacrifice, oneness, being command compliant driven to the dot and strive to win at all costs; despite all challenges and personal restrictions. These personal characteristics and, values and attitudes being natural and normal day to day occurrence within the highly efficient and effective existing systems and structures.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    One of The key to the effectiveness of the lock down of residents was the efficiency and effectiveness of the distribution chain of food, essentials and medicines to be provided to all locked down households.

    All Supermarkets have the moibile no. and update for new arrivals the mobile no: the can set up a grouping of people for visiting so tha t over crowd is to be lessened, and one time delivery for a week which can be traced if he visites it is blocked and next distribution.also will be payment done via telecomunnication and cetralize cell phone is best alerter lifeline to the outside world , They should be called gateways to tend to bring us more inside of our lives competing equipment

    • 2

      It lies on our genetics, be them sinhalaya, muslims or tamils, all are the same when comparing their uncivilized nature.
      In Europe, China or anywhere there the law and order are kept above the system, people are made to respect laws as it is while SRILANKENS or other devleoping folks in south asian region would not respect but seek to break the laws thorugh their habbits.
      We appoint and elect leaders, they themselves would not respect laws.
      Best examples are PROVED by Rajakashes by themselves. They had been allegations for high crimes as no other leaders all together in SAsian regaion ever got. But instead of facing them, even the incumbent president of the island nation today, stood against the crime investigations.. by abusing their publicity and popularity and their AFFINITY TO local media and PINGUTHARAYAS:::
      They could let LOCAL COURTs to investigate them and ask the verdicts if they have committed crimes.
      Even for high crimes such as MURDERS of Jamal Khashogi style (Rugby player was killed and even body parts were stolen by Rajapakshe family … prima facie eveidence were caught red handed), the prevailing law in the country never did their job to them.
      Paradoxially the very same ALLEGED high criminals were elected by the large groups of uneducated people today…. now they make every BIG blunder one behind the other.

      If PEOPLE are not tauguht to respect laws from the KINDERGARTEN on, we cant blame for the society that resulted in.
      This tiny thing is not a big thing if MASSES would get – at least through PINGUTHARAYAS… that are given place above law in society.
      There had been PINGUTHHTRAAYAS; that prioratised to hold elections forgetting people s UNSPECTED situation being faced by them today.

      I think if Religious leaders would atleast respect the laws, this country would turn out to be a civilized place. Please see now they attack the foreigners in some rural places because of corona threat.

  • 16

    Get a grip on reality dude! What sort of dystopian fantasy does this stuff spring from???

    Sri Lanka is not Wahun, there have been NO deaths and 100 infections with many recoveries.
    But democratic rights, information, is being curtailed and ICTA is launching a total surveillance project violating citizens privacy. People cannot go out to exercise and being confined is bad for physical and mental health and domestic violence has spiked with women facing the brunt of unnecessary curfew in a police state.
    The WHO’s one size fits all approach feeds dictator’s fantasies too
    Get a grip CJ, we do not need a police state run by US citizen and brothers Rajapaksa.
    Ever read George Orwell’s 1984 ?!

    • 5

      GMOA is also spreading dystopian fantasies following the WHO lead and has said that The today that based on the experience from Hubei, China, “It can be technically assumed that at present, 550 infected individuals are circulating within the Sri Lanka population.”
      So what, Sri Lanka will soon have herd immunity to the virus and we can get on with our lives without crippling the economy and poor people!
      However, Sri Lanka is not Wahun and Sun Yat Sen University researchers found Covid 19 very sensitive to heat and degraded at 37 centigrade, though of course Harvard researchers, (recall MCC’s Ricardo Hausman the economic Hitman from Harvard), like WHO who have missed the bus claim otherwise – who to believe? China or US research? Check it out–

  • 8

    More people die of dengue- spare us the Corona hype

  • 1

    I think the problem is price gouging, one reason is other shops are closed, the second reason is people, probably, minister or former minister wants to help a new emerging business. How it is possible to control everything. GREAT WHITE SHARKs are sharks. Business culture is made in that way.

  • 0


    It was our very own SJ who laid down the Modus Operandi cited by you, in Wuhan.
    The Prophet is not recognised in his own country!

  • 0

    I commend this article for the simple reason that it is a case study as to how a big city functioned under frozen conditions of movement. Anybody can scoff that Sri Lanka is not China and their is big difference in the leadership and the styles of leadership. Leave the fundamental differences aside. There was a will to provide the basics for the citizenry . Whether we like the leaders or not there is an elected President and his Cabinet of Ministers to do what is best under the circumstances. In my own way I have pointed through CT the necessity to ensure public supplies while the public movement is frozen. In doing so I ticked off a former President and the current Premier and a well known Engineering Professor. Quoting this author “ICT services were extensively used in this effort, especially in managing supply chains and logistics”. So if another professional was talking of Telecommuting then it has an invaluable application under current circumstances. Irrespective of our political beliefs we must pool our brain power to offer various ways of how to do things and this is not bumsucking those in power but to ensure that our own welfare in kept intact.

  • 2

    In Malaysia the supermarkets are open from 7am to 6pm during the locked down period but people from a particular locality is allowed to go to their nearest supermarket. In Oman too supermarkets are open in the locked down period, and only one person per family is allowed. So this is not rocket science and where as when people as a crowd rushed in between particular hours, the whole purpose of locked down is lost, and there is good chance for people to get infected. Last Tuesday, things were poorly organised, the supermarkets were not stocked well, and lot of them couldn’t buy most of their daily essentials in spite of staying in the queues in the hot for over threes to four hours.

  • 0

    Wuhan the capital of Hubai Province, should not be compared to Sri Lanka. It’s beyond comparison. China run by Xi Jinping is like no other Country on Planet earth. Never mind Sri Lanka, watch the chaos in Europe and , UK and the USA. Countries developed in every way, Super Powers, nuclear powered, majestic military superiority, highest per capita GDP in comparison to China.
    Wuhan and China has won the ultimate prize for controlling a pandemic, without, as yet, a vaccine or cure.
    We are not capable of ‘learning a lesson’ because we are not, simply told, China.
    CJ has written a well Researched paper on Wuhan and the taming Of Covid 19. It reads like a Sci-Fi Novel by Arthur C Clark or Jules Verne. The Wuhan story will be made a Movie. Hollywood will produce the ultimate Contagion Epic Movie. It is unreal. Wuhan the story cannot be replicated in another country outside China.

  • 0

    We only want the Chinese Yens and not the Chinese Wuhan style Management. Stupidity, Cannibalistic and Punnakku style of Management is our Trade Mark.

    Whatever happens WE are the BEST.

  • 0

    A lockdown is to prevent humans getting close to one another. But what happened when the curfew was lifted, thousands were on the streets mingling with one another. Yes have lockdown but also have plan to supply essentials to people. Even ATMs were queqed for miles ! Typical bungling.

  • 0

    Ccp killed millions and most now have died of starvation, Chinese are a brain washed people. There is no other view than ccp view. Every figure is fixed/ gdp fixed/ corona rate is fixed. Organ harvesting ccp is a evil to the core.
    Fologong Buddhist/ uiger Muslims and Tibetan people are used by ccp for organ harvesting. 1.6million killed last 20 years for liver/kidney/lungs.

  • 0

    Are we focused on people ever
    President will.focus on Poltics and when he address the Nation on Corona.crisis.
    We will focus on releasing war criminals more than on ensuring food supplies
    What you expect war criminal to do. He is only interested in power.
    He killed innocent Tamils in 2009 saving them from LTTE. He will kill more than that saving from Corona and killing by hunger.
    As the author talked about all inclusive management of crisis in Wuhan. They were good enough to apologize for punishing the whistle blower
    We were arrogant at the beginning without taking proper precautions.
    Now we are on the other extreme without managing essentials and economy we wa t.to have.lock down. It could have managed without complete breakdown by contact tracing effectively .
    If the super markets were opened and people allowed to go all the time we would not have had such exposure during curfew lifted times
    Even today’s decision to stop.al distribution by super markets without considering the impact on people food is a typical millitary arrogance not an all inclusive management.
    Of course to expect from a ear criminal thief is to expect to much.

  • 0

    The writing of Chandars an idea combate of coronavirus seems to be valuable essay. Is batter look at background work of secret that task who are motive force of behind People’s Republic China ?
    But People’s Republic of China was shifted new era under NEW State 1949 October 1st rule by Communist Party of China under leadership by Chairmen Mao Zedong.
    The Chinese Communist were well organized political party has representatives of People Of China had been mobilized millions of People under People Liberation Army as Mao’s Leadership .
    People of China was rule and govern by semi-feudal and semi-colonial country for several centuries of that long years .
    The China has Shifted to New Democracy Revolution government by CPC in 1949. Nonetheless the People of billions of masses -china has confidence and credibility of tasks has undertaken by CPC undoubtedly of by deeds of CPC leadership.

    In fact last century of foundation of Communist Party in 1921 July 1st has been an overcome many form of struggle including Long-March led by Mao.Being won many victories one after other last century.
    Hope and wish ongoing Coronavirus another War against that deadly virus been contain by current leadership of President IX Jin Peng of CPC.
    China has set new lessons to whole world it can be contain that Coronavirus by CPC leadership of future interest mankind of our globe.
    It mission of combat Coronavirus in People’s governance of China by CPC is now moving towards beginning of successful path.

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