Humanitarian Logistics

Despite the best and very productive efforts in collecting humanitarian supplies, delivery to those in need is a very difficult task for varying reasons. Shipments to conflict zones and remote areas are obviously among the most challenging ones. Armoured vehicles need to be used for transportation of personnel and medicine; logistics operations are specifically tailored to the type of expected threats (Aid and International Development Forum).

However, there still remains a sharp contrast between sophisticated business supply chain and attempts to establish humanitarian distribution, even in a safe and well-connected region. Granted, not all supply chain concepts are directly applicable to transportation and distribution of humanitarian aid. For instance, many humanitarian supply chains are highly unstable and only exist for a relatively short time. R. Oloruntoba and R. Gray through their research have discovered an inadequate link between emergency aid and long-term developmental aid, where the two are carried out as separate operations.

Probably most of us as donors would want our help to bring an immediate and tangible relief, while importance of information systems and logistics equipment, the cornerstones of efficient supply chain, gets overlooked. Same authors observe that typical emergency aid appeal assigns inventory to a particular destination at the supply chain source. In other words, the inventory is committed to the donor’s desired destination, and there is no guarantee that this decision will be an informed one.

Convincing donors of the importance and value of providing resources for appropriate information systems and supply chain processes as much as for tangible relief supplies could multiply the effect of admirable efforts of thousands of people trying to help.