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Author's profile photo Richard Howells

The Logistics Nightmare of Providing Relief to the Philippines

The calamitous typhoon Hainan, and the trail of destruction it has left across the Philippines, highlights the challenges of providing relief in a region where roads, airports and ports have been decimated. To underscore the massive scale of the destruction, the

/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/typhoon_323988.jpgUN World Food Program (UFP) reports reveal that wrecked infrastructure is making humanitarian efforts a logistics nightmare. The challenge of reaching numerous desolate locations (the Philippines consists of over 7,000 islands) is daunting. Local news channels show

Humanitarian Supply Chains

Humanitarian supply chains focus on minimizing loss of life and suffering, and their logistics processes offer equity and fairness of distribution across the affected areas. They need real-time visibility of where all shipments are, where they are going and what can be redirected or moved to the affected area in the most efficient ways. With the technical infrastructure also in disarray, this visibility is highly dependent on mobile and GPS capabilities for communication. When on the ground, drivers need to be able to plan routes based on which roads are still useable and which have become impassable as a result of the typhoon. And it is critical to have visibility and traceability of all inventories in all medical centers, distribution hubs and evacuation centers to determine where the limited supplies can have the maximum effect.

A great example of managing supply chains in the face of natural disasters is Direct Relief International. They are just one of many humanitarian organizations, bringing relief, and leveraging technology to help bring this support.

If you would like to help with a financial donation, SAP has several global disaster relief partners such as:

As the world comes together to support and help the people of the Philippines, it is good to see technology playing an important part in the recovery.

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      Author's profile photo Raymond Adams
      Raymond Adams

      Thanks for helping to raise awareness.  Another natural catastrophe, seems like each year one is topping the other. 

      Author's profile photo David Trites
      David Trites

      Great story, Richard. DRI is an amazing organization. Here is another story on how DRI leveraged its supply chain and technology to provide relief during Hurricane Sandy. Direct Relief Taps Into SAP to Tackle Hurricane Sandy.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Two of the biggest challenges in bringing relief to a situation like this are the downsides of just-in-time delivery and infrastructure damage requiring off-site staging.

      The lack of stockpiled supplies means that relief is even more important to the area effected.  In many cases even the distribution centers will only have a few days worth of supplies on hand, to say nothing of what may have been lost in the storm.  The most critical relief in a situation like this comes at the 5-7 day mark, when any remaining on-site supplies will have been exhausted. 

      The destruction to transportation infrastructure necessitates off-site staging of relief.  The fact that it is an island nation only further complicates this, and hopefully the nearby nations in the region will establish bases for supplies to be staged until the local hubs can be brought back online.