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 Philippines government estimates that 11.3 million people in nine regions are significantly affected. As a result, the United Nations has asked for over $300 million to provide life-saving aid to these victims over the next six months.
UN 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 emergency services working 24/7 to clear roads and runways to enable effective transportation for the much needed aid. The UFP is actively working with the government to set up operational hubs and organize airlifts of essential supplies of food, clean water, medicine, tents and other shelter supplies to aid the victims.
The typhoon has also damaged or completely destroyed most of the hospitals and medical facilities. Medical supplies are in very short supply. Temporary medical centers are being set up to treat the injured, but the infrastructure is not in place to treat even regular health needs. The lack of fresh water is also causing an alarming rise in water borne diseases, such as dysentery and diarrhea.
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:
- Mercy Relief
- Direct Relief international (Check out the Global Aid Distribution Map.To see where your money goes)
- World Food Program
- Red Cross
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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