Humanitarian Logistics: A New Field of Research and Action
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Recent natural disasters such as the earthquake in Hati, Hurricane Katrina in the United States, tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the earthquake in Pakistan, and numerous humanitarian challenges arising from such conflicts as that in Sudan have exposed the shortcomings in planning for disasters. In addition to the natural disasters, the homeland security issues related to domestic as well as international terrorism have increased the fear factor and have made 'readiness' the principal priority. Humanitarian logistics is a critical element of an effective disaster relief process. The objective of this monograph is to discuss research issues and potential actions surrounding the new field of humanitarian logistics. We define humanitarian logistics as that special branch of logistics which manages response supply chain of critical supplies and services with challenges such as demand surges, uncertain supplies, critical time windows in face of infrastructure vulnerabilities and vast scope and size of operations. We survey case studies to learn from the past experience and review analytical models from the literature to understand the state-of-the-art in humanitarian logistics. We recommend further research in the fields of operations management and operations research to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian logistics. We conclude that through humanitarian logistics is inherently chaotic and complex, and it is difficult to do research in this area, the complexity and obstacles can be dealt with by the researchers.
The article of record as published may be located at http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/0200000014
RightsThis publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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