Academic journal article Management Dynamics

Integrated Facility Location Planning and Demand Assessment for Humanitarian Logistics: A Case Study in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Academic journal article Management Dynamics

Integrated Facility Location Planning and Demand Assessment for Humanitarian Logistics: A Case Study in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

INTRODUCTION

Disasters are frequent and unpredictable; they can be natural or caused by human factors, and can cause much chaos. From 2002 to 2011, an annual average of 394 natural disasters were recorded worldwide, killing 107 000 people, affecting 268 million people, and causing US$ 143 billion's worth of damage (Guha-Sapir, Below and H o yois , 2013) . Althoug h dis a sters are we l l - documented, not much is said about the plan used to reach the victims and help them in the aftermath of a disaster (Starr and Van Wassenhove, 2014). This absence of appropriate planning can be seen all around the world, and particularly in Africa, where many countries are in dire need of support from the humanitarian community. The ongoing civil unrest in the Central African Republic, several decades of chronic food deficits in East Africa, and the never-ending conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have put a lot of pressure on humanitarian organisations (Kembro, 2012). There is therefore a need for the development of effective and efficient humanitarian response solutions.

To this end, this study concerns itself with the DRC (Figure 1), a country in the centre of Africa, where armed conflicts between the Congolese army and more than 20 heavily-armed groups such as the M23, Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and the MaiMai, are taking their toll on the country and its inhabitants.

Some of these conflicts have been going on for nearly 20 years, killing over 5.8 million people and displacing 2.6 million, with 1.6 million displaced in North and South Kivu alone (WFP, 2013). A large number of these deaths can be attributed to the secondary effects of prolonged conflict on the country and its inhabitants, such as food scarcities during conflict and epidemics caused by poor sanitation or contaminated drinking water (Oxfam, 2014).

An annual report released by RDC Humanitaire in the early months of 2013 highlighted the lack of basic relief supplies in the DRC, such as sanitation facilities, drinking water, and medicine, all of which are required to combat epidemics such as measles or cholera. In addition, poor access to food results in malnutrition and consequently susceptibility to these epidemics (WFP, 2012).

As a result, the DRC has one of the largest humanitarian programmes in Africa, carried out by many non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and several United Nations (UN) agencies, including the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). These organisations are situated in various locations throughout the country, offering relief services to the population affected by the ongoing conflicts.

Although these humanitarian organisations are wellprepared to respond to the predictable demands caused by ongoing conflicts, they struggle to respond in a timely manner to the unpredictable demands resulting from the sudden occurrence of new conflicts in the DRC. The problem is further exacerbated by the inaccessibility of some disaster-prone areas in the DRC as a result of poor infrastructure, making it difficult for humanitarian organisations to reach these areas in a timely manner with much-needed relief supplies.

RESEARCH PROBLEM

Civilians in the DRC are often attacked by armed groups, and people are forced to flee their homes and take refuge in nearby villages, forests, and neighbouring countries (RDC Humanitaire, 2014). The eastern part of the DRC, especially North and South Kivu, is particularly affected by armed conflicts; and there is a high probability that new conflicts will arise (War Child, 2014).

Many humanitarian organisations in the DRC provide relief to the people affected by conflict. However, several factors - such as the lack of proper planning, communication and co-ordination challenges, the inaccessibility of regions and villages affected by conflict, the unpredictable nature of new conflicts, and security issues caused by the conflict - have hampered their ability to respond timeously to new conflicts (RDC Humanitaire, 2014; Oxfam, 2014; Kembro, 2012). …

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