Humanitarian Aid in Less Secure Regions

Vidya Chander, Lauren Shear

The World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations food agency, has recently acquired the difficult task of transporting aid into the Somali region of Ethiopia.  The political instability, rebel activity, ethnic tensions, and poor infrastructure in the area endanger and delay the flow of commodities through the WFP’s supply chain.  In this thesis, we explore and analyze the role that these threats play in the WFP’s aid distribution in the Somali region.  Specifically, we measure the impact of insecurity in the WFP’s distribution system, study the current methods that the WFP employs to mitigate risks, and investigate possible precautionary technologies to improve security in this resource constrained environment.  Our research suggests that while many tools can enhance security, the organizational measures aiming to increase responsibility and trust between all involved supply chain stakeholders ultimately prove to have a stronger impact on the overall safety of aid-distribution.  Finally, though our research has focused mainly on the WFP, we believe that all similarly situated humanitarian organizations will find our analysis applicable. 

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