OUR RESEARCH: Minimising disasters – can supply chain management help?

With natural disasters becoming more frequent, can supply chain management help? Dr Mansouri used mathematical modelling to assess how to increase the number of people receiving relief in the face of natural disasters.

aHow victims of natural disasters get the materials and lifesaving equipment they need is a question that many ask when the news of a natural disaster is broken. Over the last 20 years earthquakes have been responsible for over 800,000 deaths globally.

Linking supply chain management (supplying affordable products to the right people in a timely manner) to humanitarian aid efforts may be a way to help more victims of natural disasters. Dr Afshin Mansouri of Brunel Business School investigated a way to reduce response time and costs of humanitarian relief in Iran through mathematical modelling. Using traffic information, costs of relief items and analysis of earthquake scenarios he found that the current humanitarian network can only supply 20% of the demand for disaster relief in Tehran (about 2,000,000 people). Dr Mansouri’s research found a solution which can lead, potentially, to a 24% increase in capacity – capable of helping an extra 500,000 people.

Getting humanitarian aid to those in desperate need can seriously increase rates of survival and reduce levels of suffering. The research has contributed to the applied research at the University of Tehran on humanitarian operations. Dr Mansouri shows humanitarian aid efforts can learn from commercial organisations when it comes to logistics and supply of relief and medical materials.

This and other research is conducted in Operations and Supply Chain Systems research group in Brunel Business School.

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