Unlike commercial logistics supply chains, the effectiveness of humanitarian logistics affects not just money or economics, but the innocent lives of many. There is an increasing trend of disasters happening around the world and this warrants more focused attention to be put on the humanitarian logistics domain. Major disasters such as the 2004 Thailand tsunami and 2010 Haiti earthquake have taught us how unprepared we may still be when responding to large scales disasters and the criticality of having efficient and effective humanitarian relief operations to ensure as many lives as possible are saved. There have been a lack of research and applied cases in the performance evaluations of the current humanitarian logistics operations that could be helpful to better inform investments in improvement strategies.

Recent research was conducted by Huay Ling Tay and Wei Liang Chew from the Singapore University of Social Sciences, School of Business to address these gaps. A systematic approach was adopted in the research study to identify the key stakeholders and the diverse roles that they play in the humanitarian logistics sector. The study seeks to identify the key challenges that they faced in the disaster relief operations and to propose methods to effectively evaluate and enhance future humanitarian relief operations. The research was conducted in two phases. First, the key challenges in humanitarian supply chains that hinders disaster relief efforts was characterised to aid in effective responses to diverse humanitarian logistics requirements. Second, evaluation criteria that are commonly used in the commercial supply chains were adapted to the humanitarian operations context to aid practitioners in evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian logistics operations.

The study makes use of both primary data that include survey questionnaires and interviews as well as secondary data including archival reports/records of past humanitarian relief cases to address the research aims. Based on the collected data of 30 valid survey responses, the key players in the Humanitarian Relationship Model, their roles and the key challenges that they faced when responding to natural disasters were identified. The three key challenges include issues related to poor and unpredictable operating conditions, supply and demand uncertainty, lacking in communications and information.

Furthermore, the research made use of an adapted Supply Chain Operation Reference (SCOR) framework and Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) methodology to help respondents in selecting and prioritizing performance metrics based on their respective priorities and feasibility weightages. The SCOR framework and AHP methodology that were adapted in the humanitarian logistics context could serve as a guiding framework in supporting both scholars as well as practitioners in identifying suitable performance metrics for variant stakeholders in the humanitarian logistics context so as to effectively evaluate the performance of their respective humanitarian logistics operations. Finally, the study also highlighted several best practices that aim to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of future humanitarian logistics and disaster relief efforts.

To access the research report, click here.