Cost-Effectiveness in Humanitarian Outcomes: Logistics

8th April 2020
Author: Kerina Tull

This helpdesk report examines the cost-effectiveness of new logistic techniques and processes in humanitarian settings. Maintaining supply chains is crucial in responding effectively to humanitarian crises. Logistics accounts for between 60% and 80% of the total expenditure of any humanitarian intervention. The literature on humanitarian logistic cost-effectiveness points to the fact that timelines, pre-planned investments, pre-positioning, sharing storage and warehouses, and pooling are important. In terms of technological innovation, the following were identified: new technologies are becoming more cost-effective than traditional technologies; although 3D printing can be suitable for specific one-time needs, there are challenges such as standardisation of equipment or procedures which may not be cost-effective; the use of UAVs/drones is not advisable in conflict-affected settings even though they are a cost-effective, flexible complement to the supply chain due to their ability to be used in intense weather conditions; modern biometric identification management systems, such as those used in refugee camps are simple to install and easy to use, which reduces the need for intense training and ongoing management costs; digital aid transfers are more efficient and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology is considered as a promising solution to address the problem of warehouse inventory inaccuracy.

Suggested Citation

Tull, K. (2020). Cost-Effectiveness in Humanitarian Outcomes: Logistics. K4D Helpdesk Report 790. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies


8th April 2020


Continent: Global