Dr. Nathan Kunz, assistant professor of operations management at the University of North Florida, says there are multiple ways relief organizations can get prepared to respond to a disaster. He conducted research where he modeled the delivery of relief supplies (food, medicine, shelters, etc.) during a disaster response. He compared the outcome of different preparedness scenarios. His simulation model shows that developing such disaster management capabilities allows delivering supplies to victims 18 days faster than if there was no preparedness, without generating high costs.
He can discuss:
• Pre-prepositioning important supplies in the country before the disaster hits.• Developing key capabilities that will allow the organization to import supplies very fast after the disaster. • Combining pre-positioning of supplies and disaster management capabilities leads to the fastest response at an acceptable cost.• For Haiti, this means that the most successful relief organizations will be those that had developed some disaster management capabilities in Haiti and had already some supplies in the country. They will be faster to reach victims, and will face lower costs than organizations that were not prepared.• Such disaster management capabilities that a relief organization can develop before a disaster include: o train staff to handle the importation processo train local officials to speed up the delivery process in case of disastero develop procedures for bringing supplies into the countryo negotiate agreements with the government before a disastero identify possible warehouses that can be used in case of disastero identify staff and suppliers that can be hired in case of disaster
•Important issues to consider for relief organizations responding to disasters like that in Haiti:- Coordination among organizations: it is important that relief organizations providing help to Haiti coordinate their efforts. It happens that multiple organizations conduct assessments in the same areas, which leads to duplication of efforts.- Unsolicited donations: Sending in-kind donations that are not requested is not a good idea. Often people in other countries want to help victims of a disaster by sending food, clothes, etc. However, nobody can receive and distribute them locally, and the donations often end up not being used. These donations also creates a lot of unnecessary congestion in ports and roads, and slows down the delivery of most needed goods.- Government barriers on importation of goods: relief organizations responding in Haiti need to be prepared to have their supplies go through a customs clearance process. All goods imported need to fulfill local product requirements.
Kunz is an assistant professor of operations management in the Coggin College of Business at the University of North Florida. He holds a PhD in Management (Operations Management) from the University of Neuchatel, Switzerland, and a Master of Science in International Business Development from the same university. Before joining UNF, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at INSEAD, France. He also worked as a lecturer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne and the University of Neuchatel. Prior to his academic career, Kunz worked as deputy director and director of operations at the Digger Foundation, a Swiss charity manufacturing humanitarian demining machines.
Kunz serves as secretary of the College of Humanitarian Operations and Crisis Management of the Production and Operations Management Society. He is also on the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Operations Management and the Production and Operations Management Journal. He is also member of the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management.
He focuses his research on disaster management, humanitarian logistics and humanitarian operations management.