This paper builds on the premise that the most vulnerable areas or groups of people should be protected from disasters by being given priority in humanitarian operations, particularly when there are limited resources available for disaster management. The basis and the development of the paper are strongly aligned with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 11, in particular with the targets to significantly reduce the number of people affected by disasters, to 'focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations' and to 'build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reduce their exposure and vulnerability to climate-related extreme events'. The paper then describes a novel location-allocation optimization model, the objective of which is to prioritize the most vulnerable areas when allocating disaster resources, such as response facilities and relief aid. The proxy used for vulnerability is a well-established poverty measure, employed under the postulation that poverty is one of the drivers for vulnerability by reducing the ability to cope and resist, resulting loss of diversification and restriction of entitlements, and lack of empowerment. The paper also describes an extensive database that spans ten-years relevant to disasters in Brazil. Computational results obtained with the proposed model on this data yields a number of insights that can drive prioritisation-driven policies in humanitarian logistics.
Submitted for publication in March 2021