Insights from vulnerability-driven optimisation for humanitarian logistics

by Douglas Alem

29 Oct 2021
Journal of the British Academy
Digital Object Identifier
Number of pages

Abstract: Natural disasters and the vulnerability of a population go hand in hand. We cannot understand the level of a disaster without grasping the extent of people’s vulnerability. But how can we ensure that humanitarian assistance is driven by people’s vulnerability when the lack of resources makes it impossible to support all those that need it? This study thus contributes to this line of research by enhancing our understanding of how we can ‘put the reality of the most vulnerable people first’ (cf. Chambers 1995). For this purpose, we examine two experiences that have proposed to incorporate vulnerability concerns into the planning and optimisation of humanitarian logistics operations. The first experience relies on a very popular composite indicator called Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) to build enhanced response capacity in more vulnerable areas. The second experience is built upon a poverty measure called Foster-Greer-Thorbecke (FGT) to identify the groups that potentially need the most relief aid supply and to help devising allocation plans in compliance with people’s income. These two experiences reveal that in most cases targeting more vulnerable areas increases their level of access to relief aid goods without greatly compromising the relief service levels of less vulnerable areas.

Keywords: Social Vulnerability Index, FGT poverty measure, disaster management, humanitarian logistics, disaster relief optimisation.

Article posted to the Journal of the British Academy, volume 9, supplementary issue 8 (Climate, Disaster and Risk)

Sign up to our email newsletters