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HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS

Martin Luther King, Jnr, said: "If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class and our nation, and this means we must to develop a world perspective." Humanitarian action is a fundamental expression of the universal value of solidarity between people across the world and a moral imperative. It saves lives, alleviates suffering and maintains human dignity following conflict, shocks and natural disasters. Among the people in need belong refugees, victims of natural disasters, epidemics, wars and famines. Humanitarian problems are becoming increasingly pressing and complex and require more support in decision-making. Operations research has the potential to considerably contribute to the theory and practice of humanitarian operations. As a research group, we support the idea of having a world perspective in "making a difference" by addressing research topics on issues relating to the sustainable and effective management in humanitarian operations.

 

PROJECT: INVESTIGATING INTERVENTION STRATEGIES FOR EBOLA EPIDEMICS

In this project, a system dynamics simulation model was developed to study the effect of a combination of two intervention strategies implemented within a simulated Ebola epidemic, namely contact tracing and quarantine. Investigating the dynamics and interacting changes caused by different combinations of interventions may yield a better understanding and knowledge of possible improved ways to control the disease, and the simulation model may be used as a forecasting tool for different "what if" scenarios in the spread of the disease. More intervention strategies are currently added to the model, as well as including the spatial spread of the disease by using a network approach.

Members involved: Kyle van Heerden, Linke Potgieter

PROJECT: RESOURCE ALLOCATION DURING AN EPIDEMIC

The optimal allocation and distribution of resources necessary to implement the intervention strategies during epidemics is considered in this project. A network structure to represent neighbouring susceptible populations connected through road infrastructure and dispersing individuals is utilised. In the African context, it may represent small rural towns or cities. Systems dynamics is used to model the spread of the disease within the small populations spread across this network, and connecting these small populations with dispersing individuals. Facility location, as well as the optimal distribution or routing of resources given the forecasted spread of the disease across the network are considered by means of network optimisation algorithms. Vehicle routing with drones are also considered.

Members involved: Kyle van Heerden, Dean Matter, Linke Potgieter

 

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