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SDRStrategy for Disaster Reduction UNUnited Nations UNHCRUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees UNHRNUnited Nations Humanitarian Response Network UNICEFUnited Nations Children’s Fund UNJLCUnited Nations Joint Logistics Centre VARKVisual, Aural, Read/Write and Kinaesthetic WFPWorld Food Programme Personal Development Project Part A Introduction Part A of this report will examine my learning styles, preferences, highlight any areas of weakness and suggest methods for improvement, using a number of recognised questionnaires. This will provide evidence to support my career choice and my chosen subject for discussion in Part B.
The questionnaires used to establish my preferred learning style are Belbins Team-Role Self-Perception Inventory, Myers Briggs Type Indicator and VARK questionnaire. In addition I also took the Honey and Mumford Learning Style Questionnaire (LSQ), Jung’s Typology questionnaire and Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences test to provide additional evidence. Section 1 1. 2 How do we learn? As early as 334 BC Aristotle understood that everyone learns differently, “each child possessed specific talents and skills” (Redman, Walsh and Parkinson, 2003).
However it wasn’t until the early 1980s that academic research began in earnest in this area. (Reynolds, 1997). There are currently a number of leaders within this field; Myers Briggs, Belbin, Fleming and Honey and Mumford. There is at present no definitive research, however, confirming a right or wrong learning style (Evans and Sadler-Smith, 2006). Each of the questionnaires taken within this report produces different results: from personality type to preferred role within a team, which will be evaluated to show trends.
It has to be noted, however, that learning styles are only to be used as a guide to identifying a preferred learning style. According to Houle (1980) our life experiences can change the way we learn. 1. 3 Previous experience and current approach to learning So have any of my past experiences, both professional and personal, changed the way I learn? Since my early twenties I have worked all over the world in a variety of jobs, including short order cook in the rainforests of Australia to a manager at British Telecom in the UK.
Each of these roles provided me with invaluable knowledge that I have applied to everyday life, including how to interact with people from a variety of cultures and how to approach every situation with an open mind. Prior to travelling, I trained to be a professional dancer, culminating in my final year performance in front of an audience of 4000 people. In later life, that experience provided me with the confidence to speak in front of large numbers of people, as well as being able to pick up new tasks quickly. Everyone learns using the method they are most comfortable with and for me it is visual and practical.
In contrast I am least comfortable when learning from books, and academic routes such as lectures, academic journals and texts. According to Coffield et al (2004) learners become more motivated to learn when they are aware of, and understand their strengths’ and weaknesses and should learn to develop areas of weakness to broaden preferred learning styles. 1. 4 Working as part of a team For most people their professional or personal life will involve working as part of a team. These skills should be recognised and developed from an early age.
I have always played an active role within sporting teams both at school and beyond, helping me to become a valued team player in my professional career. One of the popular tests used to determine a person’s preferred role within a team is the Belbin ‘Team-Role Self-Perception Inventory’ method, which was developed by Meredith Belbin in 1981 to asses the ‘strengths and weakness’ of individuals within a team (Moultrie, 2007). An individual’s team role is established through a Self Perception Inventory; based on a questionnaire designed to establish a preferred way of working and preferred role within a team environment.
Belbin originally identified eight key roles but added a ninth role in 1993, that of specialist (Belbin, 1993). The addition of this role was to provide the professional expertise necessary in certain real life settings (Prichard and Stanton, 1999). The nine team roles are summarised in the table in Appendix B. The Belbin model is widely used due to its intuitive appeal and its relative ease for categorising individuals within a team and is often used to describe the “ideal team” (Fisher, Macrosson and Wong, 1998). According to the Belbin test I am an Implementor and Specialist (Appendix B).
As an Implementor I am disciplined, reliable and conservative in habits. I am also comfortable when taking practical steps and actions. I would say this is a fair view of my personality and learning skills; I would like to think I am spontaneous and imaginative, but unfortunately I am not. This was demonstrated during my youth during my art exams when I seemed unable to produce unique ideas and experiment with new techniques, due to my fear of failing. This supports why my least preferred role within a team is that of a Plant. I am neither unorthodox nor spontaneous in my approach to problems.
All of these areas are key to learning and, according to Curry’s ‘onion’ theory (each layer of the onion representing one of a number of affecting factors with a central personality at the onion’s core), complement each other and provide us with the ability to learn (Sadler-Smith, 1999). I feel the need to have a structure for everything that I do and when this structure is lacking I can feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Once a structure has been established I am very methodical at producing work, researching and performing within a team.
Whilst at school I was a member of the netball team and played in the position of goal defence. This is a non-aggressive role that supports the rest of the team and allows the goal attack to score the goals. I have always been the supporting member within a team; ensuring work is completed on time and efficiently, equally I am not afraid to take the lead when I am comfortable with the subject matter and bring the team members together effectively. To validate the results of the tests taken I asked friends and family to provide their feedback on my results (Appendix I).
An ex work colleague agreed with the Belbin results and confirmed that I am methodical and measured in my approach to problems and working with others. However I feel this approach can be somewhat detrimental as I can sometimes think about things a little too long instead of pursuing the task in hand. My second preferred team role was that of a Specialist. Although I do stay focused on a project until its completion I agree with my brother who believes I am more suited to the role of Monitor Evaluator.
I am not single-minded; if anything I am considerate of others feelings when voicing my opinions. I can remain focused, serious minded and will not relax until the task at hand has been completed to the best of my ability. This has been a good personality trait within my previous employment as I have always been thought of as professional and respected team member who will give 100 per cent until every task has been completed. Although I agree in principle with the results of the Belbin test I do believe the results are dependent on the situation and the type of team role you will naturally take.
According to Watkins and Gibson-Sweet (1997) team members found they filled a different role within the team than the role suggested by the Belbin test. I know from my personal experience that if I am in a team with a number of confident characters I will sit at the back and not become involved until asked. This is an area I am trying to improve upon and I consciously try to actively participate in team discussions and meetings. I am currently working with a team of extremely confident people, who do not hesitate when giving their opinion.
I have made a conscious effort to actively participate in each meeting and also bring new ideas to the discussion. This has pushed me beyond my preferred comfortable learning style but has helped me recognise and address my weaknesses. In addition the support from my colleagues is helping me to achieve this and I feel more comfortable within this role. 1. 5 Areas of weakness Every learner has a preferred and least preferred style of learning (Fleming, 2007). It is important to recognise and address these areas of weakness and not just ignore them. I struggle, and have done for most of my education, with writing skills.
I lack confidence in this area and as such have a mental block that often prevents me from completing a task as well as I would wish. If I am required to produce a piece of written work, either in a professional capacity or at university, I have a tendency to procrastinate, which then leads to a last minute panic and an even greater lack of confidence in my abilities due to the added pressure. My results from the VARK test have confirmed my least preferred learning style is Read/Write (Appendix C). My score for this area is 5, whereas the results for the other areas; Visual, Kinaesthetic and Aural, are 13, 10 and 8 respectively.
The VARK test is a sensory/perception model developed from an earlier neuro-linguistic model (Hawk and Shah, 2007), consisting of four areas: Visual – students have a preference for graphical and symbolic way of representing information. Read/Write – students have a preference for information printed as words. Aural – students have a preference for heard information, they learn better from lectures and/or discussions with other students. Kinaesthetic –learning involves physical experience of touching, feeling and practical hands-on experience (Fleming and Mills, 1992). My results for this test place me as a Multimodal Learner.
This is when the learner employs more than one of the VARK methods when learning. According to Fleming (2007) multimodal results dominate the VARK database for all populations. But participants are often despondent with this result as they feel they have been put in an undistinguished category. However this category shows the learner can use a whole sense approach (Fleming, 2007) and can change learning style, sometimes incorrectly, depending on the task required. I am constantly trying to improve my Read/Write weakness and I have developed a number of techniques to help me achieve this.
Whilst working at BT as a manager of seven staff, I was frequently asked to produce performance reports used to determine an employee’s bonus. As this was my perceived area of weakness I tackled the problem by reading and discussing past reports with each member of staff. This allowed me to view the preferred style of reports and also gave me an understanding into how each member of staff perceived their strengths and weaknesses. By breaking down the task into manageable pieces I found it easier to tackle, and it became less of an area of weakness and more of an area for development.
Attending university has tested my ability to write at an academic level. To help improve this, I have actively researched writing skills, taken advice from the University Study Skills Advice Centre and begun to read academic papers and articles. To gain a greater understanding of my strengths and weaknesses I took the Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences test, which is often used in conjunction with the VARK model. Whilst VARK tells us how people learn, Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences tell us how people think. Gardner (1983) proposed people could demonstrate intelligence in more than one way.
He developed the theory of multiple intelligences using seven different ways to demonstrate intellectual ability. Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”): Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”) Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”) Bodily-Kinaesthetic intelligence (“body smart”) Musical intelligence (“music smart”) Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”) Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”) Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”) My results were similar to those of the VARK test. My preferred learning styles are Logical and Kinaesthetic and my least preferred is Linguistics (Appendix G).
This test is currently being widely used within the education system, and has met with some scepticism (Armstrong, 1994); however schools are increasingly looking to Gardner’s theories to explain many of the behaviours exhibited in learners. These tests results must not be used to pigeonhole the learner, however, rather used to develop the areas of least preferred learning style and improve upon the most preferred areas (Evans and Sadler-Smith, 2006; Coffield et al, 2004). The interaction between learner and teacher can also have an affect on your learning styles (Mumford, 1994).
Although my preferred learning style according to the Honey and Mumford LSQ is Reflector it can be beneficial to have a teacher who is an Activist, encouraging the learner to occasionally experiment with something unusual and perhaps unplanned. This allows the learner to experience something out of their comfort zone and opens up possibilities to an alternative way of learning (Mumford, 1994). 1. 6 Applications of learning style tests Within Industry the most commonly used tests for management training and development are Kolb’s Learning Cycle and Honey and Mumford’s Learning Style Questionnaire (Sadler-Smith, 1996).
Honey and Mumford’s Learning Style Questionnaire is based on a model developed from the four stages of Kolb’s Learning Cycle (Jackson and Lawty-Jones, 1996) and the Learning Style Inventory (LSI) (Sadler-Smith, 1996). Honey and Mumford did not feel the description of Kolb’s learning styles was useful to managers, however, and so created four new labels (Activist, Reflector, Theorist and Pragmatist) based on the four stages and developed the Learning Style Questionnaire (LSQ) to measure them (Honey and Mumford, 1986).
The LSQ results are calculated by splitting the questions into the four learning styles and the highest score is determined to be your preferred learning style. Although the Honey and Mumford LSQ has been widely acclaimed by such critics as Presland (1994) who acknowledged it as one of the few readily available tools for measuring learning styles, its meaningfulness has been brought into question as a mere personality test (Martin and Caple, 1994).
The Honey and Mumford LSQ indicates that I have a very strong preference as a Reflector, a high preference for both Theorist and Pragmatist and a low preference for Activist (Appendix H). I am not surprised by these results. I am without doubt a reflector; I like to take time when making decisions, from life changing choices to buying milk. When I applied to university I had been thinking about changing my career since I began work at BT five years ago; it took me roughly ten years to muster up the courage and finally make the decision to apply to university. This also brings into question my confidence and self-belief.
During my first semester, my average grade was 68 per cent, but that still did not provide me with an increased feeling of self-belief. Although the LSQ is the most preferred test used by managers, there is some debate over the size of the test (80 questions) and a fear the results may not be accurate as the participant loses interest. One of the main reasons for the VARK test only consisting of 25 questions is the concern that participants would give any answer due to “questionnaire fatigue”, if too many questions are asked (Fleming, 2002). 1. 7 Accuracy of learning style tests
There is often debate regarding the accuracy of learning styles tests, the Catholic Church widely use the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test to aid individual self-understanding and spiritual formation, but it does have doubts as to the validity and accuracy of the test (Lloyd, 2007). The creator of the MBTI, Isobel Myers, also commented that the Myers-Briggs test would produce incorrect results for one in every four tests taken (Myers-Briggs Foundation, 2008). The MBTI is a widely used personality questionnaire designed to identify certain psychological differences according to the typological theories of Carl Gustav Jung.
It uses a number of questions to produce a unique four-letter code from a range of 16 combinations. One of the criticisms of the MBTI results is that they can be misunderstood and people who are associated with one indicator type will assume they cannot be associated with another indicator type (Bamber and Castka, 2006). To verify the accuracy of the MBTI, I took this test three times, over a period of four months (Appendix D). Each test provided slightly varying results listed below: Date of Test |Result |Dominant Function |Preferred |Results |Dominant |Preferred | | | | |Difference | |Function |Difference | |18/12/2007 |ESTP |Extraverted |Perception |ISTJ |Introverted |Judgement | | | |Sensing | | |Sensing | | |24/02/2008 |ISFJ |Introverted |Feeling |ISTJ |Introverted |Thinking | | | |Sensing | | |Sensing | | |07/04/2008 |ESTJ |Extroverted |Extroversion |ISTJ |Introverted |Introversion | | | |Thinking | | |Sensing | | The results show the most dominant function is Sensing, both Extrovert and Introvert. The Extroverted function refers to how one views the outer world and the Introverted function to the inner world.
If the learner has the dominant function of Introverted Sensing they need to bring clarity to information. They ask many questions and need to obtain a clear picture of the information and task in their mind before attempting it. The Extroverted Sensing learner needs a logical structure to tasks, clear procedures and process. I have found my need to ask many questions difficult during my time at university. At this level of education you are expected to be an independent learner and find out information for yourself. This is unfamiliar territory for me and I have struggled with not being able to ask unlimited questions and understanding a topic fully before being asked to produce essays.
This has been a steep learning curve but, as my multimodal results for VARK confirm, I can adapt my learning style to complement the task required. One of the known drawbacks of being multimodal, however, is the need to understand every aspect of a task before attempting it which can hamper the completion of a task within a given timescale. Section 2 2. 1 Life long learning In today’s global society it is important for people to continually learn new skills throughout their lives. Lifelong learning is the process of acquiring knowledge or skills throughout life via education, training, work and general life experiences. Often you learn new skills without realising it, like using a new mobile phone and understanding the instruction manual (Werquin, 2007).
In your professional life there is an ever-increasing demand from employees for new skills and the need to keep up to date with the latest developments. The need for lifelong learning is a key government strategy in both the UK and Europe. In 2006 the European Union (EU) developed a policy called “it’s never too late to learn”. The policy suggests that the whole of the EU will become a learning area (European Union, 2006). Since leaving school I have continued learning throughout my professional life and also through adult learning courses. One of the key areas in lifelong learning is the development of transferable skills that can be used throughout life.
According to the Department for Education and Employment (DIUS, 2008), transferable skills range from communication and working with others to information technology and numeracy skills. Through my life experiences so far I have acquired a number of these skills. Whilst working in Walt Disney World in my early twenties I was faced with, for the first time in my life, communicating on a daily basis with people from other countries and cultures. My communication skills improved dramatically during this time and I gained knowledge of different cultures, which I have found invaluable. I have since been able to employ these techniques when working with teams of varying characters in both business and recently at university.
It has also given me the confidence to communicate in business with all levels of management and staff. 2. 2 Career choices My reason for coming to university was to dramatically change my career. I have for a number of years, wanted to work within the humanitarian disaster relief sector. My lack of confidence in myself, however, has previously prevented me from doing so. But after working in an office environment for the past ten years I finally decided it was time to pursue my ambitions. This is a complete change and none of my previous studies are relevant to my chosen career. However I must take into account the dangers that go with any work of this nature.
I have personal experience of the damage that war zones and relief aid can do to someone. A close family member worked for many years as a correspondent for an America news channel. They experienced the horrors of the Rwandan genocide and the later atrocities in the Balkan conflicts. They have told me, in great detail, the things they experienced but this has only made me more determined to try to help those in the world that need it most. It is a dangerous job and can often be underestimated but I need to feel my chosen career will make a difference to people’s lives. I am quite a sceptical person and when we were instructed to take the learning style tests I was not confident the results would be accurate.
Myers-Briggs and Jung both gave inconsistent results when taken a number of times (Appendix D and F respectively), however, it was the Keirsy career choice that surprised me (Appendix E). It indicated that I am a Protector Guardian, someone who will go out of their way to make sure people are secure, happy and protected at all times. I have always known that I did not want to work in a large corporation whose sole purpose was to make money. Whilst it could be argued that larger humanitarian agencies are becoming more like commercial companies, their sole purpose is to raise funds to provide relief to those who need it most. There are a number of problems encountered by humanitarian agencies that I will discuss in part B, but this will not deter me from pursuing a career within the humanitarian sector. Conclusion
I find it strange that, despite my lack of confidence in my abilities, others don’t seem to share this view. I have found that during both my career and my degree I have been asked questions by people, all believing that I know the answer. Often I can explain a problem or interpret a question without hindrance; however, when I come to do the same task for myself I cannot, and therefore begin to doubt myself. Attending university has given me more confidence in my learning abilities and has shown me that we are never too old to learn new skills. Although I do agree with most, if not all, of the tests results we must ask the question, ‘Do we only see the results we want to? ‘.
No one likes to acknowledge they have a weakness and from my test results I was more inclined to accept the results of the Keirsy career choice as this supported my chosen career path within humanitarian relief. I acknowledge there are truths in all the tests but it is human nature to only see what you want to see or to use the test results that most suit your requirements. If the results had suggested my preferred career should be within the education system or the military, for example, I would not have changed my career aspirations. It has to be remembered these tests are just a suggested preferred learning style or personality type; they are not to be used to make life-changing decisions (Myers Briggs Foundation, 2008). Part B – Problems, Issues and Inefficiencies in Humanitarian Logistics. Abstract
This paper will look at and highlight the inefficiencies within humanitarian logistics and compare and contrast these with conventional logistics e. g. commercial logistics. We are aiming to identify areas for further research as to where and when humanitarian logistics can apply best practice from commercial processes, to achieve greater overall success. Through analysis of key factors such as communication, the future, current issues, consistency of relief, Information Systems, supply chain, stock etc. , we can make recommendations on the overall need for parties to co-ordinate and collaborate. Significant advantage from the utilization of supply chain anagement methods currently used within the commercial sector must be taken on board if benefits are to be realised and opportunities seized. Introduction Within humanitarian aid, logistics is viewed as a “necessary expensive” rather than an important strategy to enable relief to be delivered efficiently and effectively (Beamon and Kotleba, 2006a). Oloruntoba and Gray (2002) illustrated this viewpoint in a recent study, when the response from agency workers interviewed on their views of the logistics framework from commercial industry being used in humanitarian aid was, “the aid business is already too much of a business”. One of the main inefficiencies within humanitarian logistics is the mindset of the people.
It is necessary to change this viewpoint in order for humanitarian logistics to work and according to the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT, 2006) humanitarian logistics is in essence the, “Right people, equipment and material, in the right sequence as soon as possible, to deliver the maximum relief at the least cost – save lives, reduce suffering and the best use of donated funds”. Section 1 1. 1 Brief history of humanitarian aid organisations The concept of humanitarian aid is a relatively new one. Humanitarian Aid as is recognised today first started in 1863 when The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was founded by Henry Durant (Forsythe, 2005, p. 1). The ICRC led the way in humanitarian policies and relief aid. In 1945 the United Nations (UN) formed from the League of Nations, to maintain international peace and security and to safeguard human rights, (UN, 2005). Today the UN plays a vital role in humanitarian affairs.
It has, over recent years, created a number of organisations to manage the rising number of issues with emergency relief. In 2000 alone the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) raised $1. 4 billion to aid over 35 million people in over 35 countries. The World Food Programme (WFP) established in 1961 is the food arm of the UN and delivers annually over one third of the world’s emergency food aid, saving the lives of millions. With the number of displaced people on the increase, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has helped to protect and provide assistance to over 22 million people annually (UN, 2004). The UN is not the only organisation to offer assistance on a large scale.
During the Berlin Airlift of 1945, when Russia tried to starve the people of Berlin by cutting off their food supplies, CARE International, one of the largest relief agencies in Britain, was responsible for supplying over two-thirds of the food delivered (Ryan 2000). The humanitarian relief community now includes a wide range of non-governmental organisations (NGO), both international and national, including the United Nations (UN) and larger organisations such as Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Oxfam and the WFP (World Food Programme, the food branch of the UN). These organisations are funded by donations from world governments, corporations and private donors, (Oloruntoba and Gray, 2006) Section 2 – Literature review 2. 1 Issues with humanitarian relief
Due to its relatively short history the field of humanitarian/disaster aid is still developing. There is also limited academic research in the field of humanitarian logistics and relief (Kovacs and Spens, 2007; Beamon and Kotleba, 2006a), as the field has received limited attention from logistics academics. There is a real need for research to be carried out within this field, however, as the number of people affected by disasters has increased over recent years. The first four years of this millennium has seen a 55per cent increase in the average annual number of disasters requiring humanitarian relief, compared to the last four years of the 20th century (Beamon and Balcik, 2008).
According to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR, 2006), 150 million people required immediate aid relief in 2004 and the UN reported a dramatic increase in civil wars in the last decade, causing millions of people to be displaced (UN, 2004). 2. 2 Future of humanitarian logistics According to Moe et al (2007) it is likely that in future the demand for humanitarian aid will continue to increase. If what we have witnessed so far this century is anything to go by, the number of conflicts in the world will continue to rise. Many academics also believe that as the climate changes the world it will face natural disasters on an unprecedented scale.
Organisations, which deliver humanitarian aid, are going to have to become more efficient if they are to stand any change of meeting the demands of the future. ‘Delivering Humanitarian aid can, therefore, be seen as a substantial global industry’ (Kovacs and Spens, 2007, p 99) It is important to understand that relief is split between two very different areas, disaster/emergency relief and development relief (Kovacs and Spens, 2007). Although both areas are equally important, it is the nature of disaster relief that creates most of the pressure on the logistics function carried out by the humanitarian community. The lack of information prior to the disaster, language barriers and cultural ifferences all add to the increasing strain placed on humanitarian logistics. As Arminas (2005, p. 14) states ‘….. logistics for major disaster relief is like having the client from hell – you never know beforehand what they want, when they want it, how much they want and even where they want it sent. ‘ According to Thompkins (1997, p. 1), “Logistics is the management of inventory to achieve customer satisfaction”. Within humanitarian aid “customer satisfaction” is often the difference between life and death. Logistics, therefore, needs to be efficient and fast, ensuring the right products are supplied to the right people (Van Wassenhove and Samii, 2003; Long and Wood 1995) 2. Communication and coordination amongst organisations One area for improvement is that of communication between agencies. Long (1997), Kovacs and Spens (2007) and Thomas and Kopczack (2005) argue that information systems are crucial to delivering humanitarian aid, and efficient systems can determine the success or failure of a disaster relief operation. Media coverage of disasters has increased over the years and has been blamed for some agencies desire to be in the spotlight (Stephenson, Jr. , 2005). This can lead to agencies working independently from one another and as such reducing knowledge sharing and joint coordination of relief efforts.
The disjointed implementation of aid in the Tsunami of 2004 highlighted one of the fundamental inefficiencies within humanitarian logistics. The public widely criticised aid agencies involved for the lack of supplies reaching those who needed it most. This was not due to lack of aid or even lack of agency involvement, but lack of communication between agencies. According to Russell (2005) the lack of communication and coordination between organisations meant the small airport at Band Ache, with its single runway, was unable to cope with the dramatically increased number of flights wishing to land there. Aid, which was unloaded on o the runway, began building up and the lack of sufficient transportation resulted in aid not reaching those who needed it.
Coordination between organisations can also be used to reduce duplication of effort. Russell (2005) also argues that lack of communication and poor information systems held up suppliers even further during the Tsunami 2004. It resulted in poor visibility of shipments, of what stock was coming in, and who was going to pick it up. Within humanitarian logistics, when the ability to rapidly provide relief to those suffering is paramount, failures like those of the Tsunami 2004 cannot be repeated. Lack of relevant communication and co-ordination can also cause an influx of inappropriate supplies to an area; this is often motivated by a sense of doing something and does not help those who need the relief most.
More importantly, inappropriate supplies can cause chaos at airports and warehouses and clog up vital relief systems (Cassidy, 2003; Murray, 2005), causing problems for other agencies working in the same area (Ryan 2000). A lack of suitable communication with donors can also result in a high volume of inappropriate supplies being sent. This has meant organisations now regularly take an incinerator to a disaster area to dispose of unsuitable items that are clogging up the system (Murray, 2005), resulting in a costly and wasteful exercise. 2. 4 Consistency of emergency relief – or lack of Due to the lack of consistency in dealing with an emergency it is a difficult area to control by generalised processes and systems.
It can also be difficult for smaller organisations to work together, as often agencies only exist for the period of the emergency or disaster. In many instances agencies will work with the military that specialise in rapid response logistics, but often this collaboration is prevented by agencies wishing to remain impartial or by their non-violent religious principles, (Byman et al. , 2000). However, according to Fenton (2003) when organisations do collaborate it has proven to be a successful venture. During the East Africa and Great Lakes emergency, the Emergency Preparedness and Response Working Group (EPRWG) were formed. It consisted of 17 organisations, ranging from NGOs, international organisations and UN agencies.
It not only encouraged collaboration amongst organisations but enabled resources to be pooled, prevented operational overlap and boosted efficiency in delivering the emergency relief required. 2. 5 Information systems A common belief amongst logistics experts is that information systems are the most important factor in aiding the success of relief operations (Long, 1997; Kovacs and Spens, 2007). A number of organisations have begun to adopt information systems, designed to assist agencies within humanitarian aid relief operations. The Fritz Institute, along with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), have co-developed software that enables the IFRC to capture necessary data to monitor the performance of their supply chains (Davidson, 2006).
However software development can be costly and agencies are reluctant to spend money on information systems, also many just do not have the funds to invest (Long, 1997). Murray (2005), Kovacs and Spens (2007) and Thomas and Kopczak (2005) are just a selection of authors to highlight the increasing pressure on humanitarian organisations from donors to funds being available to spend on relief supplies only. To assist in this area the UN established the UNJLC (United Nations Joint Logistics Centre), in 1996,in response to the Eastern Zaire crisis. It was born out of the need for the coordination and pooling of logistics assets in emergency relief and has developed to bring together specialist knowledge in logistics for use by a wide variety of agencies (Kaatrud et al, 2003; Oloruntoba, 2005).
It has also enabled the UNJLC to draw together data from a number of agencies that would not originally have shared this type of information so openly (LSSweb, 2008). The UN uses this data on its real-time web based information system Relief Web. It provides the humanitarian sector and the general public with real-time information on the disaster as it unfolds. It also provides vital information such as, fuel availability, updated information of airfields, the condition of roads, bridges, railways and ports. But more importantly it provides important information on customs procedures, visa requirements and border crossing points (Van Wassenhove and Samii, 2003).
During the Afghan crisis in 2001, the militias were charging humanitarian organisations with illegal taxes and customs fees to bring aid into the country (O’Brien, 2003). The UNJLC began negotiations and resolved this politically fragile situation on behalf of the humanitarian community; the revised customs information was then updated on the website and enabled the continual delivery of desperately required aid throughout Afghanistan (Kaatrud et al, 2003). This efficient and timely data provides assistance to the humanitarian community to support delivery of relief, preparedness and prevention actives (About ReliefWeb, 2005). This is not the only website to have been set up by the UN to assist in humanitarian logistics.
In 1997 Alertnet was created by Reuters Foundation (administered by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)), to provide communication, news reports and logistics services to relief organisations (Russell, 2005). Thomas and Kopczak (2005) argue information systems will enable agencies to manage there supply chain effectively and efficiently. It can provide online catalogues, communication with suppliers and other agencies. More importantly it can provide performance measurement based on historical data and the ability for knowledge transfer, of which at present only the larger agencies, like IFRC and UNICEF, are able to take advantage. The need for a Logistics Information Systems (LIS) is great. It would enable the coordination between agencies, the ability to document lessons learned and to share training techniques.
It would also provide a benchmark for all agencies to work towards by providing inventory visibility and enabling accurate supply forecasting (Rodman, 2004). The UN is currently the leader in providing logistical web based information systems to the humanitarian community and, although further development within this area is required, they summarise the current situation by saying: ‘….. there is a sense that the time has arrived for the humanitarian community to work collectively towards an inclusive system-wide coordination mechanism to which all stakeholders can feel a sense of belonging. ‘ (Adinolfi, et al. , 2005) 2. 6 Agile supply chain and funding restrictions
In Oloruntoba and Grays (2006) journal, “Humanitarian aid: an agile supply chain? ” they discuss the possibilities of aligning commercial supply chain practices to humanitarian aid. One of the frameworks reviewed is that of an ‘agile’ supply chain. According to Maskell (2001) an agile supply chain is one that can, “thrive and prosper in an environment of contacts and unpredictable change”. Within the commercial agile supply chain it is the end customer that dictates the demand, however, within humanitarian aid the end customer is the donor. Therefore to look at the inefficiencies within the humanitarian supply chain we must first look at the unstable nature of funding.
Humanitarian funding comes from a number of sources, governments have provided in recent years on average 33per cent of total annual funding with the remainder from private and public donors. Due to this high level of non-government donations, organisations are under pressure from donors to spend funding on specific missions or high profile disasters, like Tsunami 2004 (Beamon and Balcik, 2008; Thomas and Kopczak, 2005). Thus taking funding away from developing invaluable infrastructure such as disaster preparedness used to help reduction in costs (Thomas, 2003a), information systems to help improve efficiency (Long, 1997), and distribution channels, i. e. warehousing, transport and training (Rodman, 2004).
All these factors prevent organisations investing funds to create a solid infrastructure and to deliver humanitarian aid as a global business (Kovacs and Spens, 2007); for fear of funds being “turned off” if donor expectations are not met (Rodman, 2004). Performance measurement can be challenging for any organisation but especially within the non-profit sector. As Sawhill and Williamson (2001, p. 371) discuss, “Imagine an organization whose mission is to alleviate human suffering. How can you measure such an abstract notion? “. However, in spite of the challenges surrounding performance measurement, many managers within the non-profit sector are adopting managerial techniques and systems used in the commercial sector to improve their organisation processes (Oster, 1995).
Too much funding can also place equal pressure on humanitarian organisations. During the 2004 Tsunami an unprecedented amount of funds were received. According to Couldrey and Morris (2005), within 15 days of the disaster a record 60per cent of the predicted $977 million required had been received. Although this allowed organisations to carry out relief without concentrating on fundraising, it created the need for organisations to spend funds quickly. In many cases organisations received more funding than they actually required in the initial stages of the disaster. Strategic reporting, demonstrable accountability and communication to donors were urgently required.
Although humanitarian organisations already had well-established reporting mechanisms in place, the sheer volume of funding received led to increased scrutiny from donors and the need for more detailed reporting on fund spending (Couldrey and Morris, 2005). In contrast, within the commercial sector, funds are allocated for investment in improved supply chain infrastructure (Beamon and Balcik, 2008). This highlights one of the major differences between the commercial and humanitarian sectors and is a key indicator in illustrating one of the root causes for the inefficiencies observed within humanitarian logistics. Within the commercial sector companies have recognised the need for investment in information systems, providing them with a competitive advantage.
The use of these modern information systems has provided the commercial sector with invaluable, rapid and consistent information to aid in the managing of their supply chain (Beamon and Balcik, 2008). It is this lack of information that hinders the humanitarian supply chain functionality. What benefits would be gained from aligning humanitarian relief to an agile supply chain? An agile supply chain, whether in the commercial or humanitarian sector, has a number of key attributes. According to Christopher and Towill (2000) an agile supply chain must be market sensitive; this is the ability to respond to changing demand. It is also the ability for rapid response and in humanitarian aid this can mean the difference between life and death (Van Wassenhove, 2006).
Currently, according to Oloruntoba (2006) there is no definite model for a humanitarian supply chain. However Thomas (2003b) believes it could follow the flow in figure 1. [pic](Thomas, 2003b) Although the humanitarian supply chain flow as described by Thomas (2003b) does contain parallels to the commercial supply chain it also has many differences. The humanitarian supply chain is inconsistent and inefficient; often this has been attributed to lack of planning (Oloruntoba and Gray, 2006). An agile supply chain thrives on inconsistencies and fluctuations in the demand of the customer. The humanitarian supply chain customer is more problematic. The end customer is not the beneficiary receiving aid but the donor (Oloruntoba and Gray, 2006).
This changes the dynamic of the supply chain and the flow of goods. Within the commercial supply chain the goods are pulled by the customer, however, in the humanitarian supply chain the goods are often pushed through the supply chain in the initial stages of the disaster and only when development relief begins, are the goods pulled (Christopher and Towill, 2000). Oloruntoba and Gray (2006) discuss the frameworks required for the humanitarian supply chain to become agile and for the goods to be pulled as opposed to pushed, saving money and valuable resources. However, the method suggested is postponement of stock. This involves the release of generic stock only when the customer orders are received.
This is believed to enable an organisation to distribute the inventory according to the developing needs of the beneficiary, providing an ‘agile supply chain’. Oloruntoba and Gray (2006) suggest this framework be supported by an effective information infrastructure. Although information systems are being developed and improved upon, Prater et al. (2001) disagrees this is the correct approach to achieve agility within the supply chain. Prater et al (2001) confirms that to further develop an already complex supply chain to increase agility, may lead to increased complications of current problems and issues already experienced by the humanitarian sector.
Although there is further research to be carried out within the humanitarian supply chain process, it is imperative the donor is made aware of the importance and value of investing funds in appropriate systems, research and processes as well as providing relief supplies (Oloruntoba and Gray, 2006). 2. 7 Warehouse locations and stock management Oxfam has an Emergency Response Team that can distribute supplies from their warehouse in Oxfordshire within hours of a disaster to provide the basic essentials, such as water, food and shelter (Ryan, 2000). During the 2004 Tsunami, along with the sheer volume of donations that caused chaos at the small airport at Band Ache, there was also insufficient warehouse capacity to store the supplies. One of the main issues was the lack of information provided as to the location of suitable warehouse facilities.
Evidence of issues within humanitarian warehousing and inventory management emergency response, as indicated by Beamon and Kotleba (2006b), are varied and numerous. Due to sheer volume of volunteers, high turnover of staff and inconsistency of volume of supplies, any system implemented must be easy to maintain, install and operate. According to the UN report, ‘Humanitarian Response Review’ (Adinolfi, 2005), only 60per cent of agencies involved in the review could account for what they had in stock and less than 50per cent had registered their stock in a central register. A common problem within humanitarian relief is the reliance of many NGOs to work independently and although stockpile registration exits there is lack of willingness to be involved in broader networks.
There is also, within politically fragile locations, the threat of vital supplies disappearing in transit and it is the job of the logistics manager to “grease” the wheels of local bureaucracy to make sure this does not happen (Ryan 2000). Following on from the problems experienced with inconsistent stock deliveries during the 2004 Tsunami, the UN is developing the UN Humanitarian Response Network (UNHRN). Its aim is to coordinate stocks of emergency materials in strategically located warehouses. The Red Cross already manage a number of these warehouses, along with the UN (Russell, 2005). There are high costs in running a warehouse that can service the international community which does limit this method of stock management to only the larger agencies (Beamon and Kotleba, 2006a). Simchi-Levi et al. 2003) argues that costs would be reduced if organisations were operating a few centrally located warehouses. This is an area for further research, however the UNHRC are attempting to combat this problem by globally positioning a number of warehouses, which can be utilised by both small and large agencies. Although pre-positioning relief supplies in strategically located warehouses has proven to be an efficient method in responding to some emergences it is not always the case (UNICEF, 2005). During the South Sudan crisis (1989) the needs of the end customer (the recipient of aid) were not met despite World Vision International utilising it three global pre-positioned units (GPU) in Germany, Italy and Colorado (Beamon and Kotleba, 2006a).
In the Balcik and Beamon (2008) journal, “Facility location in humanitarian relief”, Strash (2004) it states the total amount of relief sent to satisfy a disaster region is usually much more than can be provided by the global pre-positions stock. During the initial stages of a disaster the first wave of critical supplies can be sourced via this method but it is difficult to sustain this level of inventory from the pre-positioned stock, due to inconsistent nature of the demand. Balcik and Beamon (2008) investigate the framework put in place by the UNHRD, managed by the WFP, for distribution of vital supplies within the initial and subsequent development stages of a disaster. This framework consists of five hubs in Italy, Dubai, Malaysia, Panama and Ghana.
As they are strategically placed in each continent the UNHRD can distribute any supplies within 24-48 hours. According to Adinolfi et al (2005), however, there is no global stock positioning system in place within humanitarian relief. No stock can be tracked, ownership of stock is unknown, and location of stock once it has left the hub is not known which can lead to corruption and theft. Also more importantly there is no reliable information of quantity and quality of stock. These factors can lead to high costs, waste of resources and often duplication of effort. It can also be attributed to slow response and demand not being met. This issue was emphasized during the survey conducted by Oloruntoba and Gray 2002), when aid workers were asked to provide the typical size of consignments, and not one of them was able to do so. On the other hand the participants did remark on the lack of a suitable system to enable reliable stock forecasting within the humanitarian relief sector. Nonetheless some of the larger organisations do use bespoke tracking systems. The IFRC in partnership with the Fritz institute has created the Humanitarian Logistics System (HLS). This enables the user to have full visibility of the whole supply chain network. AS HLS is web-based it enables faster information sharing and allows the organisation to pre-plan customs forms, stock management and transportation needs (Russell, 2005).
Consideration must also be given to the transportation limitations when choosing the location of the global positioning unit’s (GPU) and the subsequent cost implications. Balcik and Beamon (2008) argue that although financial restriction plays a leading role in the quantity of supplies that can be stocked at the pre-positioned unit, it is the transportation limitations that will ultimately determine the capacity of the GPU. Within the humanitarian sector. efforts have been made to align current processes and systems from the commercial sector to improve efficiency and effectiveness. An inventory management method used within the commercial sector is that of ‘risk pooling’.
Risk pooling is when stock from many locations is combined into one centralized warehouse and distributed using the hub and spoke method (Rodman, 2004). Not all humanitarian organisations believe it is good idea to coordinate stock and warehouse facilities. The Oxfam handbook of development and relief (2000) states: “Sharing warehouse facilities is not recommended: security is much easier with exclusive access to the site”. However humanitarian relief is unique and commercial systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), although capable of dealing with financial and human resource issues, cannot cope with the inconsistency of demand during a disaster. Thomas (2003b, pg. 8) summarises the current situation very well: …a standard ERP system could not accommodate tracking of unsolicited canned food donations from collections outside French grocery stores to an earthquake relief site in Gujarat, nor the purchase of donkeys at local markets for hauling relief supplies in war-torn Afghanistan’. It is important to note that these inefficiencies have promoted the need for further research in this field. Beamon and Kotleba (2006a, p. 15) have begun research to develop a mathematical model for inventory management for ‘a pre-positioned warehouse responding to complex humanitarian emergencies’. This is not the first research to be conducted in inventory management models. Oh and Haghani (1996) researched the most efficient method of transportation of commodities and Barbarosoglu et al (2002) developed mathematical models to solve operation scheduling decisions.
In 2004 Barbarosoglu and Ardu further developed the original transportation model by Oh and Haghani (1996) to manage the uncertainty involved in emergency relief. This is still an area for further research; however within the humanitarian sector the need for this research is becoming more prevalent to provide efficient and efficient models to deliver relief. 2. 7. 1 Third party logistics specialist During a study conducted by Oloruntoba and Gray (2002) aid workers were asked if using a specialist logistics company would be of benefit. All but one participant agreed this would be cost efficient and an effective use of funds. The general consensus from the participants was that even though this would be an improvement it would be ‘difficult to change mentalities’.
Since this study was conducted, ‘mentalities’ within humanitarian relief do seem to be changing. In 2001, in response to the devastating earthquake in Gujarat India, the Disaster Relief Network was created from members of the World Economic Forum. The DRC consists of a global network of commercial companies, from logistics to engineering and construction, who are committed to assisting humanitarian organisations in delivering disaster relief. After an initial investigation into emergency relief the DRC discovered they were required to do more than provide funds and began to proactively participate in managing and delivering relief aid (World Economic Forum, 2003).
During the 2004 Tsunami the DRC teams moved over 6000 tons of supplies and were responsible for transporting the supplies to warehouses and then on to delivery trucks (Russell, 2005). In 2007 Kovacs and Spens reported both DHL and TNT were working in partnership with the UN to provide speciality logistics support, which has recently been utilised in Iraq and Afghanistan. An area for further research, suggested by Scott-Bowden (2003) and Russell (2005), is to investigate the relationships of commercial companies like TNT and DHL and look at ways to increase the number of commercial and public partnerships, with a view to exchanging ideas, new processes and business concepts and continually improve humanitarian logistics practices. 2. 8 Professional qualifications in humanitarian logistics
According to a recent survey conducted by Oloruntoba and Gray (2002) among employees of humanitarian agencies, over 80per cent of agencies have a dedicated member of staff who specialises in logistics and transport. But of this figure only 45per cent has a professional qualification within this field or related areas. The survey also revealed a large number of agencies involved in the survey did not recognise the need to have professionally qualified logisticians within their organisation. Long (1997) also argues that within humanitarian logistics professional logisticians are rare, consequently affecting the efficiency of distribution efforts in an already unpredictable and challenging environment. Perry (2007) argues that during the 2004 Tsunami, the lack of trained logisticians became a “major obstacle to the tsunami assistance operations”.
This lack of professional qualifications has been recognised by a number of organisations. Currently the Charted Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK) and the Fritz Institute (USA) offer professionally recognised qualifications in humanitarian logistics. This provides the participant with vital knowledge about warehousing, inventory management, transport and managing a humanitarian supply chain. Giving the participants the skills to work effectively and efficiently within the humanitarian relief sector (CILT, 2008) 2. 9 Lessons learned and knowledge transfer According to Moe et al (2007), one of the key areas within humanitarian relief is the need to document lessons learned and best practice.
Due to the fast moving nature of humanitarian relief there is often no time between disasters to document vitally important lessons learned and achieve best practice (Thomas and Kopczak, 2005). This lack of information impedes the development of processes and efficiency improvements, currently carried out within commercial logistics. Hudspeth (2005) argues “Lessons learned” can be incorporated to strengthen future responses to disaster relief. From the military and civilians working together from the outset of a disaster, to local distribution systems being quickly established wherever possible and areas of local knowledge and infrastructure being harnessed.
All of these processes and frameworks will be lost and be of no benefit to future disaster process if they are not documented. The theory of lessons learned’ was introduced by the US army in the mid-1970s, and was defined as the ability for those involved in a project to ask the following leading questions (Carrillo, 2005, p. 237): 1. What did we set out to do 2. What actually happened? 3. Why did it happen? 4. What are we going to do next time? The military conduct rigorous lessons learned exercises, always aiming for the next project to be better than the last. As humanitarian relief is unpredictable and requires immediate response, learning from the military’s approach to lessons learned would be extremely beneficial (Scott-Bowden, 2003).
According to Ryan (2000), humanitarian organisations need to utilize knowledge systems to capture and apply best practice from previous experiences. Lessons learned from the relief supply chain can be relevant to the commercial supply chain, according to Beamon and Balcik (2008). Currently the UN conducts a lessons learned seminar for each operation it is involved in. They did not begin utilising this management technique until 1995 during their operation in Somali (1