The Nutritious Supply Chain: Optimizing Humanitarian Food Aid

Analytics for a better world project

This project connects to SDG 2, Zero Hunger.

Researchers

  • K Peters (WFP, Italy)
  • S Silva (WFP, Italy)
  • R Goncalves (WFP, Italy)
  • M Kavelj (WFP, Italy)
  • H Fleuren (Tilburg University, The Netherlands)
  • D Den Hertog (Tilburg University, The Netherlands)
  • O Ergun (Northeastern University, US)
  • M Freeman (UPS, US)

Project

The Nutritious Supply Chain: Optimizing Humanitarian Food Aid

Abstract

The World Food Programme (WFP) is the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, reaching around 90 million people with food assistance in 80 countries each year. To deal with the operational complexities inherent in its mandate, WFP has been developing tools to assist its decision makers with integrating supply chain decisions across departments and functional areas. This paper describes a mixed integer linear programming model that simultaneously optimizes the food basket to be delivered, the sourcing plan, the routing plan, and the transfer modality of a long-term recovery operation for each month in a predefined time horizon. By connecting traditional supply chain elements to nutritional objectives, we have made significant breakthroughs in the operational excellence of WFP’s most complex operations, such as Iraq, Yemen, and El Nino. We show how we used optimization to reduce the operational costs in Iraq by 12%, without compromising the nutritional value supplied. Additionally, we show how we used optimization in Yemen to manage the scaling-up of the existing operation from three to six million beneficiaries.