Adaptability is key to successful humanitarian response and global business operations

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By Amarica Rafanelli

Aid organizations can provide a useful model for businesses that want to get products to consumers as quickly and efficiently as possible in a dynamic and complex global marketplace.

It is according to a recent white paper published in the Journal of Supply Chain Management, Logistics, and Procurement.

The paper was co-authored by Andrew Schroeder, VP of Research and Analytics at Direct Relief, and Cindy Elliott, Head of Commercial Industry Solutions at Esri, and the post outlines how the strategies used by aid organizations to get life-saving medical aid to communities in need can also be used by businesses to circumvent logistical obstacles, such as inclement weather, supply chain disruptions and changing demand in a global market.

The strategy employed by Direct Relief, which has helped organizations respond cohesively to multiple emerging crises at once, is known as adaptive logistics. The approach is to anticipate disruptions due to weather or conflict, identify alternative routes and resources, and adapt to changes in the needs of affected communities.

Adaptability has become particularly important at Direct Relief as humanitarian crises become more severe and less predictable due to climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, while daily disruptions to the global supply chain only increase. compound the challenge of delivering medical aid quickly and efficiently. .

When responding to a disaster, the organizationb begins by assessing the needs of those affected on the ground. Direct Relief’s global network of more than 2,500 organizations serves as a real-time source of information that communicates who needs help, where they are and what resources are most needed. These local contacts not only help Direct Relief provide targeted assistance, but also offer logistical support in the last mile transportation of aid and resources.

For example, during the response to the Beirut explosion in Lebanon in 2020, which disrupted businesses and critical infrastructure, including a key port of entry, Direct Relief leveraged a network of expats in the country that helped the organization secure State Department clearance for a 60-ton medical aid airlift. Supplies were quickly channeled to local hospitals with which Direct Relief had existing relationships through its previous work in the country.

In addition to its local networks, Direct Relief uses geospatial technology to collect real-time data about the impact of a disaster on a community, such as information on how and where people are being evacuated, what types of medical resources lack and who is most vulnerable because of their socio-economic status, age and access to information.

During the 2018 campfire response in Butte County, California, for example, Direct Relief was able to use geospatial data to predict potential evacuation areas and route medical aid accordingly.

Although the goal may be different, companies can adopt similar strategies to anticipate consumer demand, anticipate disruptions in supply chains, and find alternative routes to efficiently deliver products to consumers in a complex and global marketplace. constantly evolving.

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