Placed within this supply chain is logistics – moving material from one place to another, which further comprises of inbound, outbound and/or reverse logistics (Figure 1).
SUPPLIERS INBOUND LOGISTICS INTERNAL OPERATIONS OUTBOUND LOGISTICS RETAILERS /DISTRIBUTORS INTERNAL INTERFACES EXTERNAL INTERFACES
From this profit-oriented point of view, logistics now finds itself on humanitarian grounds where a different war is waged and a different victory is aimed at – the victory of saving lives, minimizing destruction, and assuaging helplessness caused by disasters. Humanitarian logistics is an emerging field with functions similar to business logistics yet with different outcomes. Two main streams of humanitarian logistics can be distinguished: disaster relief and continuous aid work. The focus of disaster relief operations is to transport the immediate requirements of affected communities – first aid material, food, equipment and rescue personnel – where they are needed and to evacuate affected people to safe places rapidly (Barbarosoglu et al., 2002). Continuous aid is focused on re-building lives and re-establishing livelihoods and infrastructures.
The Fritz Institute defines humanitarian relief logistics as “the process of planning, implementing and controlling the efficient, cost-effective flow and storage of goods and materials, as well as related information, from the point of origin to the point of consumption for the purpose of alleviating the suffering of vulnerable people” (Thomas and Kopczak, 2005). Humanitarian logistics encompasses a range of activities including preparedness, planning, procurement, transport, warehousing, tracking and tracing, and customs clearance (Thomas and Kopczak, 2005).