The supply network's role as an enabler of development

Deborah Ellis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter considers another application of logistics and supply chain principles in the humanitarian cause - but in this case, not in the sudden-onset disaster response situation, but the everyday 'disasters' of poverty and disadvantage in developing countries. Supply networks are a critical, but often unrecognized, piece in the jigsaw of development. Where development aid is concerned there is a slowly dawning recognition that funds spent on direct aid such as supply of antiretrovirals for HIV/AIDS, anti-malaria drugs and vaccines may be wasted, and many fewer people may be assisted, if focus is not directed to improving the supply system through which these medicines are sourced and distributed. Similarly it is now becoming apparent that more effective procurement and distribution strategies could greatly improve the health outcomes that governments of developing countries can achieve with the scarce resources they have available. From a different side of the development equation, the opportunity for rural communities to grow their incomes has always been tied to their ability to use land and labour resources to produce surpluses and find markets for them. The opportunities in this regard are changing, as sophisticated retailers (the modern trade) emerge in the cities of Asia and Africa and as the corporate social responsibility agendas of large corporates, such as the mining companies, remind them of their obligations for local engagement and sourcing in the countries and regions in which they operate. For small producers to supply the consistency and quality that these customers require, however, is challenging - and the barriers are mainly associated not with production itself, but with the physical and organizational aspects of the supply chain from farm to market. It appears that, just as in health, this is a high-leverage point and an opportunity for governments, donors and the private sector to facilitate new business and 'social business' models that help small producers link to the emerging opportunities. The chapter uses four case studies to explore these different situations in which the supply network can be a significant barrier, or can be leveraged to become an important enabler of development initiatives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHumanitarian logistics
Subtitle of host publicationmeeting the challenge of preparing for and responding to disasters
EditorsMartin Christopher, Peter Tatham
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherKogan Page
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9780749462468
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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