Disaster Risk Reduction through Humanitarian Supply Chain Development

By: Rajat Agrawal
In a disaster prone country like India, it is important to work with multi-pronged strategy to reduce the risk of disasters. Proper supply chain management for disasters, which is known as humanitarian supply chain (HSC) can play a vital role in disaster risk reduction. HSCs are different than most commercial supply chains. But many qualities of commercial supply chains can help HSCs to be more effective. Handling of uncertainty, optimisation of facility locations, planning of inventory, developing proper information network are some of the issues, which HSCs can learn from commercial supply chains. At the same time commercial supply chains can also learn abilities to handle high uncertainty from HSCs. A properly planned HSC where the private sector is also involved can help in improving the response to the disasters.
Disaster Education

India is highly vulnerable to natural disasters. Almost all types of natural disasters ranging from earthquakes, landslides, floods, cyclones, tsunamis to avalanches keep occurring in different parts of the country. With rapid growth of industries, now man made disasters are also on the rise. Industrial accidents may involve risks of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear disasters.

India prioritised disaster preparedness very late. Only in the year 2005 did the Disaster Management Act come into existence and the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), established. The authority is making every possible effort to help minimise losses due to disasters. But a single agency is not enough to handle disasters of such large magnitude as the Kedarnath tragedy in 2013. Disaster management requires close coordination between various agencies. Many feel that close coordination is needed only in post disaster, however that is a myth. Figure 1 shows four important phases in the disaster management cycle. These are mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

As the concern for disaster risk reduction is increasing, we need to develop a robust solution. In India, some of the sectors such as health and primary education, which in most of the countries are the government’s responsibility are well handled by the private players. Today the private sector is so integral to these two domains, that one cannot imagine not using their services. However, in case of disaster mitigation, it remains the responsibility of the Indian government only.

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