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Minimising disasters - can supply chain management help?

Disaster

‘How do victims of natural disasters get the materials and lifesaving equipment they need?’

Many ask this question when a news story of a natural disaster breaks.

Over the last 20 years, earthquakes have been responsible for over 800,000 global deaths.

Dr Afshin Mansouri of Brunel Business School discovered that one way to help more victims of natural disasters is to combine humanitarian aid efforts with those of supply chain management.

Supply chain management is the supplying of affordable product to the right people. Getting humanitarian aid to those in need can increase chances of survival and reduce levels of suffering.

Dr Mansouri of Brunel Business School investigated a way to reduce response time and costs of humanitarian relief in Iran, with mathematical models.

His research found that the current humanitarian network can only supply 20% of the demand for disaster relief in Tehran. This is about 2,000,000 people, based upon traffic figures, the cost of relief items and analysis of earthquake scenarios.

Mansouri then found a solution that could lead to a 24% increase in capacity, and help 500,000 more people. This solution then contributed to the applied research University of Tehran on humanitarian operations.

Mansouri shows that humanitarian aid efforts can learn from commercial organisations when it comes to logistics and supplying relief and medical materials.

This and other research is conducted in OISM (Operations and Information Systems Management Research Group).