Building disaster preparedness and response capacity in humanitarian supply chains using the Social Vulnerability Index

Douglas Alem, Hector F Bonilla-Londono, Ana Paula Barbosa-Povoa, Susana Relvas, Deisemara Ferreira, Alfredo Moreno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a novel humanitarian supply chain approach to address disaster preparedness and build response capacity in humanitarian supply chains when people's vulnerability matters. Our primary motivation comes from the fact that disasters in Brazil are often associated with unequal distribution of opportunities and social inequalities that end up pushing more vulnerable people to risky areas or informal settlements. Moreover, investment in disaster management has dropped over the past few years in Brazil. In this way, we wonder: how to use the somewhat limited financial budget as effectively as possible towards meeting those that need the most while addressing disaster preparedness activities? To answer this question, we develop an optimization model to address location, capacity planning, prepositioning, local procurement, and relief aid flows' decisions. Differently from most existing research, we adopt the so-called Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI) in the objective function to build enhanced response capacity in more vulnerable areas when the lack of resources makes impassable to fulfil all victims' needs at once. Through a rich and real case-study based on the Brazilian Humanitarian Supply Chain, we come up with critical insights that can help to improve the humanitarian supply chain practices in the country. In particular, we show that the social benefit of using SoVI is as more significant as the vulnerability increases, which reveals the importance of considering this index to design more social-effective humanitarian supply chains
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Early online date25 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2020


  • OR in disaster relief
  • humanitarian logistics and supply chain
  • disaster preparedness
  • social vulnerability index

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