The Logistics of Disaster Response
When disasters occur, relief teams are often faced with an excess of donated materials that are not needed and can even be detrimental to providing support. The influx of unnecessary materials can slow the progress of delivering goods to those in need. Even the right supplies can be problematic when they reach the wrong location or arrive at the wrong time—such as before there is a place to safely store them. The result is that, according to the National Science Foundation, up to 60 percent of goods donated after a disaster end up going to waste.
As natural disasters around the world become more frequent and destructive, it’s clear that responding effectively is both a humanitarian and a logistical challenge.
Good360 works to channel donors’ well-intentioned generosity by matching donations with nonprofits who can use them. The UPS Foundation has worked with Good360 on relief and resilience efforts for many years. In 2015, we became a founding partner of the Good360 Disaster Recovery Council where we have begun to develop best practices for in-kind giving. In 2018, we helped Good360 launch Resilient Response, a cross-sector initiative aimed at driving more thoughtful, proactive, and impactful giving. Over the past several years, UPS has helped facilitate the distribution of millions of dollars’ worth of appropriate goods to disaster-impacted communities.
Our partnership with The UPS Foundation helps Good360 get the right goods to the right people at the right time."
But every disaster is different, and we still have more progress to make. Hurricane Dorian was the worst disaster in the history of the Bahamas, and after it hit the island in 2019 a familiar pattern repeated itself. More than 150 containers and 2,000 pallets of donations were delivered to the Bahamian capital. Donations arrived without a recipient, and in the early aftermath of the disaster, there was no strategy or resources to sort, inventory, and circulate these goods. And because roads, ports, and communication grids were heavily damaged, distributing supplies across the chain of islands was next to impossible.