Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians
Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians
📖 eBook - ePub

Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians

Tools for Practice

Ira Haavisto, Gyöngyi Kovács, Karen Spens

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📖 eBook - ePub

Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians

Tools for Practice

Ira Haavisto, Gyöngyi Kovács, Karen Spens

About This Book

Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians provides an in-depth insight into the management of supply chains in the context of humanitarian logistics. This accessible and practical book considers humanitarian logistics from a strategic and operational perspective.The overarching theme is collaboration and coordination, one of the biggest challenges in the humanitarian community. Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians takes a problem-based learning approach, featuring real cases and examples from leading organizations including Oxfam, Unicef, and The Red Cross. Each chapter is self-standing, relating the content in each chapter to the supply chain as a whole. This enables the reader to easily dip into different sections. At the end of each chapter, there is a case study written by a leading practitioner currently working in the humanitarian field. Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians fills a much needed gap in the market and is essential reading for humanitarians worldwide.

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Information

Publisher
Kogan Page
Year
2016
ISBN
9780749474690

Part one

Logistics and supply chain management in the humanitarian context

1.1

Introduction

Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Research Institute (HUMLOG Institute), Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland

Introduction

The need to focus on, and continuously improve, humanitarian logistics is tremendous. Natural disasters affect more and more people every year, which implies a continuous increase in the need for humanitarian aid – and for logistics and supply chain management to support the delivery of this aid. Furthermore, external trends such as climate change and urbanization are expected to increase the impacts of disasters in the future. Yet natural disasters are just a fraction of what impacts on humanity and society. We are surrounded by news of humanitarian crises around the world, where societies are demolished and people are hurt. According to the United Nations (UN), the biggest humanitarian crises that occurred during 2014 were the war in Syria, the escalated violence in Iraq, the ongoing violence in the Central African Republic, the ongoing and escalating violence in Sudan and South Sudan, ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. None of these are captured under the umbrella of a natural disaster, yet all of these require a large-scale humanitarian response.
According to the UN OCHA report (2014), individuals estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance rose from 82 million people in 2013 to 101 million in 2014. Some of the less sympathy-awaking humanitarian crises such as those in the Central African Republic and in Iraq were funded only up to 10 per cent of the estimated need, according to the same UN OCHA report. Not surprisingly, one of the elements in which logistics and supply chain management in the humanitarian context differs from business logistics is in operating under constrained supplies. Balcik and Beamon (2008:102) summarize the characteristics of humanitarian supply chains as operating under the following conditions:
  • unpredictability of demand in terms of timing, location, type and size;
  • suddenly occurring demand in very large amounts and short lead times for a wide variety of supplies;
  • high stakes associated with adequate and timely delivery;
  • lack of resources (supply, people, technology, transportation capacity and money).
Even more to the point, Arminas (2005: 14) sums it up as ‘purchasing and logistics for major disaster relief is like having the client from hell – you never know beforehand what they want, when they want it, how much they want and even where they want it sent’.
Apart from the disasters that hit the news, there are other, forgotten events, which have received less media attention: the Ludian earthquake that hit south-west China on 3 August 2014, with 230,000 people estimated to be affected; floods in the Balkans in May of the same year, with some 1.6 million people affected; and the ongoing and escalating food insecurity in the Sahel region in Africa, where the UN estimated that in 2014 over 20 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance, as compared to 11 million in 2013. Receiving much more media attention was the refugee crisis in the European Union (EU), which is thought to be only the tip of the iceberg. Globally, by the end of 2015, an estimated 60 million people had to leave their homes to live in internally displaced person (IDP) and refugee camps.
All these events are such that the societies themselves cannot care for those in need within their own borders. Thus, what triggers external humanitarian assistance, according to international law, is that a country in question calls for help. In practice, this means that international humanitarian organizations need an invitation to move in, or at least a mandate to operate.
Due to the complexity of disasters, the operational space of humanitarian aid workers has diminished. International aid workers are no longer guaranteed a safe and secure operating environment. This is due to the increase in humanitarian aid requests in the category of complex disaster. A complex disaster means several events occurring simultaneously or occurring in close sequence, which leads to humanitarian crises. Most of the humanitarian events on the African continent today can be classified as complex disaster. For example, they might have experienced simultaneously drought, a man-made conflict, and a cholera or measles outbreak. Many of these disasters even trigger one another in a cascade. This complexity in most humanitarian settings today can lead to extreme operating conditions for any humanitarian worker, which leads to high turnover of staff. This, in turn, can lead to inefficiencies, particularly regarding knowledge transfer and standard operating procedures.
Humanitarian organizations function in circumstances where they are both responding to an acute humanitarian need, eg in the aftermath of an earthquake or a battle; and simultaneously responding to a need to build back a society or at least maintain parts of societal functions in the form of, for example, continued schooling for children and maintaining a means of livelihood.
But how can a society and the families in the society maintain their means for living in the midst of a crisis? Man-made conflicts, in particular, tend to limit the mobility of both individuals and livestock. Limited mobility has been problematic in South Sudan, where the pastorals cannot move their cattle to the pastures they have used for centuries. Maintaining means of livelihood becomes even more complicated if families and individuals are on the move due to displacement from their homes. Thus, a large proportion of humanitarian activity is directed towards building up or striving to maintain the means of livelihood of affected populations. This can, however, be tricky, since the main goal of humanitarian efforts is to save lives, decrease suffering and aid the affected society to return to a status quo. Status quo is, by the humanitarian responders, often seen as the situation as it was before the crises started. This vision is sometimes not the same as the one of the people and the societies in need. A beneficiary or ‘end user’1 might have spent 20 years in a refugee camp (such as the refugee camp of Kakuma, where the third generation of refugee camp citizens have been born). During those 20 years, the surrounding world has moved on and the status quo is not the same any more. As stated by a humanitarian logistician at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – ‘No one wants buckets any more.’
Therefore, the humanitarian responders and the end user (beneficiary or right holder) are in a predicament where they need to figure out what the ‘new’ society could look like and how the humanitarian activities can best support this vision of a society. For humanitarian activities to take into consideration a long-term vision from the start of an operation, such as in response to an earthquake, a close relation with the aided community and an awareness of sustainability has been identified as a solution to linking long-term and short-term thinking in a humanitarian setting.
But can one request a humanitarian aid worker to keep in mind the aspect of ‘linking relief, rehabilitation and development’ (LRRD), such as the importance of procuring sustainable products, when people are dying and time is of the essence? Humanitarian workers themselves were asked to reflect on the debate over aid effectiveness in a book published on stories from humanitarians (Bergman, 2003). They were asked what they think of accusations that their work could potentially be doing more harm than good: for example, that end users might become dependent on aid; local markets might get distorted; and that aid might potentially prolong the conflict rather than contribute to the end of it. Humanitarian workers replied by saying, ‘How can we not help? How can we stay away when such immense suffering is going on?’
Humanitarian organizations thus state that people come first – everything else, including sustainability, comes second. In an immediate humanitarian crisis, this is natural, but it can also lead to situations where humanitarian activity has done more bad than good. During aid efforts in Afghanistan, for example, most of the water supplied was handed out in small plastic bottles, thus, in the long run, it caused a major waste management problem with plots of potential agricultural land littered with empty water bottles. Is this sustainable? No. Is it natural that, as a humanitarian officer, one does not think about a potential waste problem in an immediate humanitarian crisis? Yes. What could be a solution to similar problems? An o...

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Citation styles for Supply Chain Management for HumanitariansHow to cite Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians for your reference list or bibliography: select your referencing style from the list below and hit 'copy' to generate a citation. If your style isn't in the list, you can start a free trial to access over 20 additional styles from the Perlego eReader.
APA 6 Citation
Haavisto, I., Kovács, G., & Spens, K. (2016). Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians (1st ed.). Kogan Page. Retrieved from https://www.perlego.com/book/1589531/supply-chain-management-for-humanitarians-tools-for-practice-pdf (Original work published 2016)
Chicago Citation
Haavisto, Ira, Gyöngyi Kovács, and Karen Spens. (2016) 2016. Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians. 1st ed. Kogan Page. https://www.perlego.com/book/1589531/supply-chain-management-for-humanitarians-tools-for-practice-pdf.
Harvard Citation
Haavisto, I., Kovács, G. and Spens, K. (2016) Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians. 1st edn. Kogan Page. Available at: https://www.perlego.com/book/1589531/supply-chain-management-for-humanitarians-tools-for-practice-pdf (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Haavisto, Ira, Gyöngyi Kovács, and Karen Spens. Supply Chain Management for Humanitarians. 1st ed. Kogan Page, 2016. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.
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