Keywords: humanitarian aid models, emergency logistics, risk mitigation, Asian tsunami, Thailand, disaster response, disaster preparedness, risk management, local communications, local networks, early warning, emergency management
Emergency logistics and risk mitigation in Thailand following the Asian tsunami
A series of recent natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, droughts) and man-made crises (civil unrest, war, political disturbance) have highlighted the vulnerability of communities to unstable conditions. Reaching displaced people in crisis conditions is heavily dependent on the effectiveness of the supply chain and its management systems. Disaster responses have been modelled into, for example, three stages: preparedness, response, and recovery (Carter, 1999). In the case of the Asian tsunami, one of the principal weaknesses was the absence of such events from existing government response plans. There was therefore no top-down strategy and no implementation mechanism on the ground. Whatever communications networks were in place were quickly overwhelmed; they therefore became the subject of a major review in the months following the disaster. This paper highlights the fact that disaster preparedness in the manner suggested by Carter (1999) is shown to be less appropriate than the 'soft approach' taken by the Thai Government post-tsunami, whereby emphasis is on well-organised local communication networks, early warning systems, and danger mitigation rather than accumulation and management of large scale emergency stocks of, for example, food, tents, and equipment.