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Article
Publication date: 3 March 2021

Russell Harpring, Amin Maghsoudi, Christian Fikar, Wojciech D. Piotrowicz and Graham Heaslip

This study aims to describe the compounding factors in a complex emergency, which exacerbate a cholera epidemic among vulnerable populations due to supply chain…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to describe the compounding factors in a complex emergency, which exacerbate a cholera epidemic among vulnerable populations due to supply chain disruptions. Basic needs such as food, medicine, water, sanitation and hygiene commodities are critical to reduce the incidence rate of cholera and control the spread of infection. Conflicts cause damage to infrastructure, displace vulnerable populations and restrict the flow of goods from both commercial and humanitarian organizations. This study assesses the underlying internal and external factors that either aggravate or mitigate the risk of a cholera outbreak in such settings, using Yemen as a case study.

Design/methodology/approach

This study adopts a system dynamics methodology to analyze factors that influence cholera outbreaks in the context of the Yemeni Civil War. A causal loop diagram with multiple components was constructed to represent the complexities of humanitarian situations that require critical decision-making. The model was built using data from humanitarian organizations, non-governmental organizations and practitioners, along with literature from academic sources. Variables in the model were confirmed through semi-structured interviews with a field expert.

Findings

Compounding factors that influenced the cholera outbreak in Yemen are visualized in a causal loop diagram, which can improve the understanding of relationships where numerous uncertainties exist. A strong link exists between humanitarian response and the level of infrastructure development in a country. Supply chains are affected by constraints deriving from the Yemeni conflict, further inhibiting the use of infrastructure, which limits access to basic goods and services. Aligning long-term development objectives with short-term humanitarian response efforts can create more flexible modes of assistance to prevent and control future outbreaks.

Research limitations/implications

The model focuses on the qualitative aspects of system dynamics to visualize the logistics and supply chain-related constraints that impact cholera prevention, treatment and control through humanitarian interventions. The resulting causal loop diagram is bounded by the Yemen context; thus, an extension of the model adapted for other contexts is recommended for further study.

Practical implications

This study presents a systematic view of dynamic factors existing in complex emergencies that have cause-and-effect relationships. Several models of cholera outbreaks have been used in previous studies, primarily focusing on the modes and mechanisms of transmission throughout a population. However, such models typically do not include other internal and external factors that influence the population and context at the site of an outbreak. This model incorporates those factors from a logistics perspective to address the distribution of in-kind goods and cash and voucher assistance.

Social implications

This study has been aligned with six of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), using their associated targets in the model as variables that influence the cholera incidence rate. Recognizing that the SDGs are interlinked, as are the dynamic factors in complex humanitarian emergencies, the authors have chosen to take an interdisciplinary approach to consider social, economic and environmental factors that may be impacted by this research.

Originality/value

This paper provides an insight into the underlying inter-relations of internal and external factors present in the context of a cholera outbreak in a complex crisis. Supply chains for food; water, sanitation and hygiene; and health products are crucial to help prevent, control and treat an outbreak. The model exposes vulnerabilities in the supply chain, which may offer guidance for decision makers to improve resilience, reduce disruptions and decrease the severity of cholera outbreaks.

Details

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-6747

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 24 December 2020

Amin Maghsoudi and Mohammad Moshtari

This paper identifies the challenges during a recent disaster relief operation in a developing country where the humanitarian response is dominated by national actors…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper identifies the challenges during a recent disaster relief operation in a developing country where the humanitarian response is dominated by national actors, with international actors having a minor role.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study design is used; the main data sources are semi-structured interviews with 43 informants involved in the 2017 Kermanshah earthquake relief operation.

Findings

The findings suggest that humanitarian practitioners deal with multiple challenges during disaster relief operations. One group of challenges relates to humanitarian logistics (HL) like needs assessment, procurement, warehousing, transportation and distribution, all widely discussed in the literature. Another involves the growing use of social media, legitimacy regulations and the engagement of new humanitarian actors (HAs) like social media activists and celebrities. These factors have not been extensively studied in the literature; given their growing influence, they require more scholarly attention.

Practical implications

The findings will help humanitarian practitioners and policymakers better understand the challenges involved in disaster relief operations conducted by multiple actors and thus help them improve their practices, including the creation of proper regulations, policies and logistics strategies.

Originality/value

The study uses primary data on a recent disaster to assess and extend the findings of previous studies regarding HL challenges. It also elaborates on the critical non-logistical challenges that influence aid delivery in emergency responses, including the growth of social media, regulations and the engagement of new HAs. The results may motivate future empirical and modelling studies to investigate the identified challenges and identify practices to mitigate them.

Details

Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-6747

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 11 January 2016

Amin Maghsoudi and Ala Pazirandeh

This paper aims to, by connecting to the ongoing conversation on the importance of supply chain visibility, empirically examine the impact of visibility in supply chain…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to, by connecting to the ongoing conversation on the importance of supply chain visibility, empirically examine the impact of visibility in supply chain relationships, on resource sharing among and on the performance of humanitarian organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

Survey data were collected from 101 humanitarian organizations in Southeast Asia. The organizations all experienced being interconnected within the supply chain relationships formed in humanitarian response settings. Data are used to test the conceptually developed model, using the structural equation modeling-partial least square (SEM-PLS) approach.

Findings

Results show that visibility has a significant impact on resource sharing and the performance of the organizations, especially in terms of the willingness to share resources, resources used and flexibility of organizations. The results also show that, in situations of high uncertainty, the association between resource sharing and performance becomes weaker.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited to the method used.

Practical implications

Findings of this research provide insights for humanitarian practitioners on the need to increase visibility of the scarce resources available within the relationships formed during a disaster relief operation to improve overall disaster response. The level of uncertainty in terms of needs assessment, number of affected people, location of a disaster and so forth, is also taken into account in the recommendations made.

Originality/value

This study is among the first to empirically test the link between visibility, resource sharing and performance, specifically in a humanitarian context, which is among the critical success factors for better interorganizational coordination and better aid delivery.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. 21 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

Keywords

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