Improving humanitarian response through an innovative pre-positioning concept : an investigation of how commercial vessels can be used to store and transport relief items
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- Master of Science 
Both the number of natural disasters and the people affected by these disasters have increased substantially during the recent decades. Not only is the frequency higher, but the complexity, severity and magnitude of natural disasters has also increased. This trend, combined with the limited amount of funding provided by donors, has created a critical need for improved humanitarian response systems. Even though logistics has evolved from being seen as a necessary expense to become an important strategic factor in humanitarian interventions, there exists clear evidence that the current response systems does not always meet the needs of those people affected by disasters in an efficient and effective way. The research presented in this thesis builds on the idea that the network of resources possessed by a commercial logistics service provider can be applied in an innovative way to improve the current humanitarian response systems. The aim of this research is to analyze whether the performance of humanitarian response can be increased by utilizing commercial vessels to pre-store and transport relief items. By applying operations research, a simulation model is developed in order to test various configurations of an alternative humanitarian response system. The outputs generated by the model is compared with data from previous disaster response in order to determine whether the alternative system is able to deliver relief items faster and to a lower cost than the current system. Enhancing the performance of humanitarian relief operations through collaboration with a commercial logistics service provider can lead to a number of positive effects. Not only can more people receive vital assistance, a reduction in the portion spent on logistics will free up financial resources that can be used to improve internal processes and capacities, which supports a sustainable long-term development of humanitarian organizations. There exists a limited body of quantitative research within the field of humanitarian logistics and the research presented in this thesis seeks to address this limitation by utilizing an operations research technique to examine how the performance of disaster operations can be improved.
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Business, Logistics – supply chains and network – Handelshøyskolen BI, 2013