PLENARY: Applied network design problems to support humanitarian operations

In Africa, annual weather patterns cause recurrent shocks that expose populations to severe food insecurity. Conflicts across the region, the population health and economic vulnerabilities generate crises and trigger the need for humanitarian assistance and development programs. In April 2015, Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which caused important damages. Many of the most affected communities were located in remote mountainous areas and were left out of access to secure water sources due to the destruction of the supply system. During this presentation, different research projects related to logistics decision planning for mitigating the consequences of such issues will be presented. All these projects are based on studies made in collaboration with different humanitarian organizations and use real data. The solution approaches were developed using techniques rooted in operations research principles, such as optimization, simulation, mathematical programming and statistical analyses.

The studies that will be presented concern network design problems arising in three different contexts: relief item prepositioning (Uganda), community healthcare services (Liberia), and water supply system restoration (Nepal). The rewards and challenges of OR applied research to support humanitarian operations in developing countries will also be discussed.

WORKSHOP TALK: Tactical Network Planning for Food Aid Distribution in Kenya

In Kenya, annual weather patterns cause recurrent shocks which make the population vulnerable to food insecurity. In some regions, seasonal droughts create regular food shortages that are mitigated through food aid. The objective of this real application is to design an effective last-mile food aid distribution network. It is based on a food aid distribution problem arising in the Garissa region of Kenya, but develops a methodology which is of general applicability. We present a location model to determine a set of distribution centers from which the food is directly distributed to the beneficiaries. Our model considers the welfare of all stakeholders involved in this regional response system: the World Food Programme, the Kenya Red Cross, and the beneficiaries. We describe how need assessment and population data where combined to determine the food distribution requirements. We also show how GIS data describing the road network was used to establish a set of potential distribution centers. In addition to the results obtained by solving our primary model, we present several sensitivity analyses and variants of the basic covering model to illustrate the trade-offs between the objectives of the different stakeholders. Finally, future research directions are presented and discussed.

Associate Professor Marie-Ève Rancourt

Associate Professor Marie-Ève Rancourt

Associate Professor, Department of Logistics and Operations Management, HEC Montréal

Marie-Ève Rancourt is an associate professor of operations management at HEC Montréal. She is also a member of the Interuniversity Research Center on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and Transportation (CIRRELT) and the Canadian Research Institute on Humanitarian Crisis and Aid (OCCAH), and affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research interests are in the areas of humanitarian logistics, supply chain and transportation using techniques based on operations research and econometric.

Her recent work focusses on the use of mathematical modeling to solve real problems in applications with social impacts, particularly logistics problems related with relief operations, food security and healthcare delivery in developing countries. She is working in collaboration with different organisations, such as the WFP, Red Cross, and Last Mile Health to develop analytical methods for managing supply chains and access populations located in underserved areas. She received her Ph.D. in management science from HEC Montreal in 2013; a M.Sc. in modeling and decision support from HEC Montreal in 2007; and a B.Sc. in mathematics from the University of Montreal in 2004.