Mitigating the impact of gifts-in-kind: an approach to strategic humanitarian response planning using robust facility location



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Kansas State University


Gifts-in-kind (GIK) donations negatively affect the humanitarian supply chain at the point of receipt near the disaster site. In any disaster, as much as 50 percent of GIK donations are irrelevant to the relief efforts. This proves to be a significant issue to humanitarian organizations because the quantity and type of future GIK are uncertain, making it difficult to account for GIK donations at the strategic planning level. The result is GIK consuming critical warehouse space and manpower. Additionally, improper treatment of GIK can result in ill-favor of donors and loss of donations (both cash and GIK) and support for the humanitarian organization. This thesis proposes a robust facility location approach that mitigates the impact of GIK by providing storage space for GIK and pre-positions supplies to meet initial demand. The setting of the problem is strategic planning for hurricane relief along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts of the United States. The approach uses a robust scenario-based method to account for uncertainty in both demand and GIK donations. The model determines the location and number of warehouses in the network, the amount of pre-positioned supplies to meet demand, and the amount of space in each warehouse to alleviate the impact of GIK. The basis of the model is a variant of the covering facility location model that must satisfy all demand and GIK space requirements. A computational study with multiple cost minimizing objective functions illustrates how the model performs with realistic data. The results show that strategic planning in the preparedness phases of the disaster management cycle will significantly mitigate the impact of GIK.



Humanitarian response, Gifts-in-kind, Facility location, Robust optimization

Graduation Month



Master of Science


Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering

Major Professor

Jessica L. Heier Stamm