Thursday, November 10, 2011

Demand Forecasting for Disaster and Humanitarian Relief

In our discussion this week, I was interested in finding out whether humanitarian relief organizations have been able to use demand forecasting to be more agile in their responsive to disaster situations. Demand forecasting in and of it-self is a difficult tool to yield in that there are many factors that effect the forecast and in the case of humanitarian relief additional factors come into play including knowing inventory levels and understanding local infrastructure systems and markets.

In my search I came across a presentation by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies delivered at the AidEx Conference, this past October in Brussels, regarding their Global Logistics Service. The presentation introduced the development of a Logistics Index that would use historical data from 2006-2010 to compare estimations of resources needed, and persons requiring/receiving assistance with actual response. From this aggregate data they would be able device a demand forecasting formula to provide quicker and cheaper relief strategies for disaster situations, to be available for use by 2015.

Demand forecasting for disaster relief, to me, is a daunting concept, considering climate change and the increased frequency and impact of environmental disasters. But with the development of mobile and web-based tools that are being used to manage information about actual needs and response in humanitarian aid and disaster relief situations, I believe its possible and can be an effective tool. Please check out the two links below to view the presentation and learn more about the conference.

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