How Humanitarian Logistics Information Systems Can Improve Humanitarian Supply Chains

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Howden

How Information Systems Can Improve Humanitarian
Logistics

How Humanitarian Logistics Information Systems
Can Improve Humanitarian Supply Chains:
A View from the Field
Michael Howden
Humanitarian Consultant
michael.howden@gmail.com
ABSTRACT

Humanitarian logistics represents a broad range of activities taking place within humanitarian organizations, the bulk of these activities are also components of a broader humanitarian supply chain - the network involved with providing physical aid to beneficiaries. Humanitarian logistics information systems improve information flows, which integrates logistics units more efficiently with non-logistics units within the humanitarian supply chains and provides better feedback to donors, ensuring more effective operations. Humanitarian logistics activities occur across the disaster management cycle. Humanitarian logistics information systems not only improve logistics activities in each phase, but can improve the continuity of humanitarian operations by sharing information throughout the transition of different disaster management cycle phases. Through collaboration between organizations, humanitarian logistics information systems also have the potential to reduce corruption and the market distortion which can occur during humanitarian operations. Keywords

Humanitarian Operations, Logistics, Supply Chain Management, Information Systems, Disasters, Disaster Management
AUTHOR’S BIOGRAPHY

Michael Howden completed a Bachelor of Computer Systems Engineering from the University of Auckland and originally worked as a software engineer in New Zealand. He has worked for International Rescue Committee in Indonesia, Pakistan and Uganda developing and implementing their global logistics database ProLogs and for Save the Children US in Indonesia, developing logistics software and systems which were components of a broader supply chain management system.

INTRODUCTION

Within humanitarian operations logistics is required to procure, store and distribute supplies for the assistance of beneficiaries. In order to function effectively humanitarian logistics must coordinate with other actors and be considered throughout the lifespan of humanitarian operations. This paper will explore how humanitarian logistics information systems can:

1.

Integrate logistics units into the broader humanitarian supply chain throughout the organization.

2.

Enhance logistics activities and provide continuous support across the preparedness, response, transition, recovery and mitigation phases of disaster management cycle.

3.

Create new possibilities for collaboration between humanitarian organizations.

In these ways humanitarian logistics information systems can also improve the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian operations.
HUMANITARIAN LOGISTICS INFORMATION SYSTEMS IN THE HUMANIATARIAN SUPPLY CHAIN Humanitarian Logistics

Humanitarian organizations can include government agencies such as United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), multilateral agencies such as the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP), non-government organizations (NGOs) such as Save the Children and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and members of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. Many humanitarian Proceedings of the 6th International ISCRAM Conference – Gothenburg, Sweden, May 2009 J. Landgren and S. Jul, eds.

Howden

How Information Systems Can Improve Humanitarian
Logistics

organizations will engage in long term development activities as well as disaster management activities supporting people affected by disasters. This paper will only discuss humanitarian logistics as it is applied in disaster management.

Humanitarian organizations usually include logistic units which can have different functions depending on the organizations...
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