The Nutritious Supply Chain: Optimizing Humanitarian Food Aid

3/14/19 | 4:15pm | E51-335
Reception to follow.





Dick den Hertog

Tillburg University 

Abstract: The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is the largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide, reaching around 80 million people with food assistance in 75 countries each year. To deal with the operational complexities inherent to its mandate, WFP has been developing tools to assist their decision makers with integrating the supply chain decisions across departments and functional areas. This presentation 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 pre-defined time horizon. By connecting traditional supply chain elements to nutritional objectives, we made significant breakthroughs in the operational excellence of WFP’s most complex operations, such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and several countries in Africa. We show how we used optimization to reduce the operational costs in Iraq by 17%, while still supplying 98% of the nutritional targets. Additionally, we show how we are using optimization in Yemen to manage the scale-up of the existing operation from three to six million beneficiaries. 

Finally, we will present the research plans for the Zero Hunger Lab at Tilburg University, which has been launched recently.

Bio: Dick den Hertog is professor of Operations Research at Tilburg University and scientific director of the Data Science Center Tilburg. His research interests cover various fields in prescriptive analytics, in particular linear and nonlinear optimization. In recent years his main focus has been on robust optimization. He is also active in applying the theory in real-life applications. In particular, he is interested in applications that contribute to a better society. For many years he has been involved in research for optimal flood protection, which was awarded by the INFORMS Franz Edelman Award in 2013. Currently, he is doing research to develop better optimization models and techniques for cancer treatment, and he is involved in research to optimize the food supply chain for the World Food Programme.  He is chairman of the Dutch Network on the Mathematics of Operations Research, and associate editor of three journals (Management Science, Operations Research, and INFORMS Journal on Optimization).

Event Time: 

2019 - 16:15