Challenges in disaster relief operations: evidence from the 2017 Kermanshah earthquake

Amin Maghsoudi*, Mohammad Moshtari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This paper identifies the challenges during a recent disaster relief operation in a developing country where the humanitarian response is dominated by national actors, with international actors having a minor role.
A case study design is used; the main data sources are semi-structured interviews with 43 informants involved in the 2017 Kermanshah earthquake relief operation.
The findings suggest that humanitarian practitioners deal with multiple challenges during disaster relief operations. One group of challenges relates to humanitarian logistics (HL) like needs assessment, procurement, warehousing, transportation, and distribution, all widely discussed in the literature. Another involves the growing use of social media, legitimacy regulations, and the engagement of new humanitarian actors (HAs) like social media activists and celebrities. These factors have not been extensively studied in the literature; given their growing influence, they require more scholarly attention.
The findings will help humanitarian practitioners and policymakers better understand the challenges involved in disaster relief operations conducted by multiple actors and thus help them improve their practices, including the creation of proper regulations, policies, and logistics strategies.
The study uses primary data on a recent disaster to assess and extend the findings of previous studies regarding HL challenges. It also elaborates on the critical non-logistical challenges that influence aid delivery in emergency responses, including the growth of social media, regulations, and the engagement of new HAs. The results may motivate future empirical and modelling studies to investigate the identified challenges and identify practices to mitigate them.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Number of pages28
Publication statusPublished - 25.12.2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 518 Media and communications
  • Social media
  • Social Network Service
  • 514,2 Social policy
  • Regulation
  • Rules
  • law
  • 520 Other social sciences
  • Disasters
  • Operations
  • Humanitarian logistics
  • Supply chain disruption
  • 512 Business and Management
  • Humanitarian logistics
  • Disaster relief operations
  • Social media
  • Celebrities
  • Humanitarian actors
  • Regulations

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoHP: Humanitarian and societal logistics


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