Role and Importance of Coordination in Last Mile Relief Distribution: The Case of Earthquakes in India
Purpose: The world has witnessed an increasing number of natural disasters in recent years affecting large populations. The logistical operations to deliver relief to these populations are complex requiring careful planning and execution especially during the Last Mile Relief Distribution (LMRD), the ultimate phase in these operations. LMRD is the phase where the disaster logistics chain directly connects with the affected communities and whose performance is affected by many factors. Among these is the level of coordination between the organisations involved in relief operations. The aim of this paper is to evaluate the impact of coordination on LMRD performance in the context of India, the most affected country in the world by natural disasters. Methodology/ Design: The research was conducted into two phases. First, qualitative interviews were conducted with Indian government, national, and international NGOs involved in disaster relief operations in the country to determine the factors affecting LMRD operations. Second, an Agent-Based Simulation Model (ABM) was developed to represent the Indian LMRD system to evaluate the impact of coordination on its operational performance and ability to satisfy the needs of the affected people. Several scenarios reflecting different coordination policies were evaluated on the ABM. Findings: The qualitative phase findings identified coordination as the most significant factor affecting LMRD operations performance in India. The ABM simulation results provided empirical evidence that better coordination during LMRD reduce the level of inventory, hence costs, to satisfy disaster relief demand by approximately 16% and improve responsiveness by 13%. Originality: This research identifies coordination as a major driver of LMRD operations in India. Its impact is evaluated through the development of an innovative ABM model, which provided empirical evidence of the magnitude of LMRD performance improvement by adopting new coordination policies. The research provides suggestions for new ways on how to achieve better coordination and implement these successfully in Indian LMRD operations."