Logistics Paper on Variation in Humanitarian Supply Chains

Variation in Humanitarian Supply Chains

Humanitarian services are often in high demand after a disaster has taken place. Logistics is primarily dependent on the infrastructure that is in place, and natural disasters often destroy the infrastructure. This results in a challenge to the humanitarian agencies as they strive to bring food, water and medical supplies to persons that have been affected by the natural or manmade disaster. Causes of disaster vary, as they can include floods, droughts, earthquakes, wars and many others. Majority of these disasters destroy the transport infrastructure making it impossible for the humanitarian agencies to access the affected population or forcing them to employ expensive means of transport to deliver supplies such as the use of planes and parachutes (Kabra & Ramesh, 2016). This paper compares the involvement of the unites states in humanitarian supply chain and that of another country, in this case, Japan. The United States wields the greatest geopolitical influence in the world as a result of its economic prowess. On the other hand, Japan is prone to many natural disasters, mainly in the form of earthquakes. This has forced the country to come up with measures that ensure that the country is ready in the event of a national disaster taking place.

The operations of humanitarian organizations are often planned so that they allow for a rapid and appropriate response, minimizing the impact of the disaster on the population and the infrastructure. There are numerous humanitarian agencies and organizations, each of them having its own set of objectives when helping out after a disaster has taken place. This makes the coordination of the efforts to provide humanitarian support very complex, and might undermine the effectiveness of the strategies that are employed by the humanitarian groups. The humanitarian organizations have three major stakeholders whom they have a responsibility towards (Kabra & Ramesh, 2016). The donors are the most important stakeholders of the international humanitarian organizations, and they provide the funds that are needed in the facilitation of the services and provisions needed by the populations affected by a disaster. The second group of stake holders is the beneficiaries, and these are often the victims of the disaster that has taken place. The last group of stakeholders entails the international community, who receive reports regarding the operations undertaken by the humanitarian organizations. The American and Japanese governments are responsible for funding and keeping the international humanitarian organizations accountable for the resources that are under their care.

The humanitarian supply chain of the United States is rather advanced outside the borders of the country, and this is evident from the way the country can respond to international disasters such as the earthquake in Haiti and the Ebola outbreak in west Africa in 2013-2014. This is in contrast with the level of preparedness in American soil, as indicated by the way the humanitarian activities are poorly done by the humanitarian groups on American soil (Kabra & Ramesh, 2016). This was evident during the Hurricane Katrina disaster, when many of the victims decried the delays of the authorities in offering them help. This was a case of failed logistics and supply chain management by the American humanitarian groups. In contrast, Japanese humanitarian groups are often ready domestic calamities, most of which happen in the form of earthquakes.

Japan is a series of islands that are located along volatile tectonic zones, making them susceptible to frequent earthquakes. This, over time, has forced the Japanese to organize their domestic humanitarian supply chain as well as the international humanitarian organizations. The United States, on the other hand, is not visited by as many natural disasters as Japan. This could account for the relatively poor streamlining of the domestic humanitarian supply (Maghsoudi & Pazirandeh, 2016). Another possible explanation for the poor humanitarian supply chain in the US is the fact that it rarely receives assistance from the international community, given that it is among the largest contributors regarding workforce and resources to the international humanitarian organizations.

            The provision of humanitarian services by the United States is highly dependent on the military. Luckily, this country has military bases in all regions of the world. In the event of a disaster taking place in any place, there is always a US military base that is nearby. The military resources are used to provide the logistical power to guide the supply chain in the humanitarian undertaking (Kaneberg, 2017). These are resources that the Japanese government does not have, although it has the goodwill of a vast majority of the international community. The United States’ management of the humanitarian supply chain is exhibited positively in the international front, but is seen to fail when disasters hit home. On the other hand, Japan is not as active as the US in provision international humanitarian service. However, the Asian country is relatively efficient in the handling of humanitarian supply chain locally.

In conclusion the involvement of United States in the humanitarian supply chain has been compared to Japan. The involvement of the United States is on a global scale, while Japan’s involvement is mainly domestic. The unites states make use of its strong and vast military in the provision of international humanitarian services while Japan does not do the same. The efficiency of US involvement at home is poor considered to Japan’s management of local disasters.




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Kaneberg, E. (2017). Managing military involvement in emergency preparedness in developed countries. Journal Of Humanitarian Logistics And Supply Chain Management, 00-00. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/jhlscm-04-2017-0014

Maghsoudi, A., & Pazirandeh, A. (2016). Visibility, resource sharing and performance in supply chain relationships: insights from humanitarian practitioners. Supply Chain Management: An International Journal21(1), 125-139. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/scm-03-2015-0102