‘We have received things like tuna fish and mayonnaise. What good are those things for us? We need grains, salt and sugar.’ Nepal, Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat (May, 2015).
These types of events create a highly unpredictable ‘cavitation’ form of demand and require a different type of response to normal conditions. In early May UN Resident Representative Jamie McGoldrick told Reuters the government that they should not be using peacetime customs methodology”. That they need to loosen customs restrictions further to deal with the increasing flow of relief material as materials were piling at Katmandu airport instead of being shipped to those in need. As the finance minister also pointed out, in the early stages of a disaster it is important to receive the correct type of relief. For a nation whose staple diet is grains, tuna and mayonnaise is not a particularly helpful resource, and takes up valuable space.
This and other type of natural disasters requires a rapid response, which is known as the field of humanitarian logistics.
© University of Warwick