The potential of emergent disruptive technologies for humanitarian supply chains: The integration of Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and 3D Printing

Featured Journal Content

International Journal of Production Research
(In Press) 2020-04-20
The potential of emergent disruptive technologies for humanitarian supply chains: The integration of Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence and 3D Printing
O Rodríguez-Espíndola, S Chowdhury, A Beltagui…
The growing importance of humanitarian operations has created an imperative to overcome the complications currently recorded in the field. Challenges such as delays, congestion, poor communication and lack of accountability may represent opportunities to test the reported advantages of emergent disruptive technologies. Meanwhile, the literature on humanitarian supply chains looks at isolated applications of technology and lacks a framework for understanding challenges and solutions, a gap that this article aims to fill. Using a case study based on the flood of Tabasco of 2007 in Mexico, this research identifies solutions based on the use of emergent disruptive technologies. Furthermore, this article argues that the integration of different technologies is essential to deliver real benefits to the humanitarian supply chain. As a result, it proposes a framework to improve the flow of information, products and financial resources in humanitarian supply chains integrating three emergent disruptive technologies; Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain and 3D Printing. The analysis presented shows the potential of the framework to reduce congestion in the supply chain, enhance simultaneous collaboration of different stakeholders, decrease lead times, increase transparency, traceability and accountability of material and financial resources, and allow victims to get involved in the fulfilment of their own needs.

Lost at home :: The risks and challenges for internally displaced children and the urgent actions needed to protect them

Internal Displacement :: Children

Lost at home :: The risks and challenges for internally displaced children and the urgent actions needed to protect them
May 2020 :: 36 pages
Core report team (in alphabetical order): Jan Beise, Claus Hansen, Laura Healy, Sinae Lee, Naomi Lindt, Yukun Pei, Danzhen You
[Excerpt from opening essay; text bolding from original]

Today, more children than ever before are displaced within their own countries. Their harrowing stories of displacement are unfolding every day, and with increasing frequency. At the end of 2019, approximately 45.7 million people were internally displaced by conflict and violence (Fig. 1.1). Nearly half – 19 million – were estimated to be children. And millions more are displaced every year by natural disasters.1

Annually, the number of internally displaced persons regularly outpaces that of refugees, in many recent years at more than twice the total. And while most of those internally displaced do not end up crossing international borders, many will become refugees and vulnerable migrants.2 Internally displaced persons really are the invisible majority of the world’s displaced population.3

Looking ahead, climate-related resource scarcity and conflicts will likely continue to trigger massive – and extensive – displacement. The World Bank estimates there could be more than 140 million people internally displaced by climate by 2050. That’s 100 times the scale of Europe’s refugee and migrant crisis in 2015–2016.4

In many countries around the world, internally displaced children persistently lack access to basic services. This effectively limits or denies them the right to education, health, protection and non-discrimination. These deprivations can be particularly acute in the life of a child. Removed from a stable, secure home and the communities they need to thrive – family, friends, classmates and teachers – internally displaced children are exposed to a host of harms and dangers. Family separation, negative coping strategies such as child labour and child marriage, and violence, exploitation, abuse and trafficking pose direct threats to their lives and futures. Internally displaced persons can be displaced multiple times or live in protracted displacement, their needs and vulnerabilities changing during the process.5 Some become caught up in cyclical displacement, which can mean finding durable solutions is even more difficult.6

Despite its global scale, internal displacement is largely overshadowed by the current political and public focus on refugees and migrants. Two United Nations (UN) agreements, the Global Compact for Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees,7 set objectives aligned with the commitment to leave no one behind captured in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.8 Yet despite the fact that the first step for many refugees and migrants in displacement is within their own borders, neither compact explicitly addresses the concerns of internally displaced people. Internal displacement requires global action. In response to a UN General Assembly Resolution on Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons, a three-year GP20 Plan of Action was launched to strengthen collaboration in addressing the challenges of internal displacement.9 The establishment of the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement in late 2019 aims to bring about concrete and long-term solutions to these challenges.10…

Press Release
19 million children internally displaced by conflict and violence in 2019, highest number ever
Internally displaced children among the world’s most vulnerable to COVID-19
NEW YORK, 5 May 2020 – An estimated 19 million children, more than ever before, were living in displacement within their own countries due to conflict and violence in 2019 – some of them for years, UNICEF said in a new report today.

The report, ‘Lost at Home’, looks at the risks and challenges internally displaced children face, and the urgent actions needed to protect them. As COVID-19 continues to spread around the world, these children are among the most vulnerable to its direct and indirect impacts.

“Millions of displaced children around the world are already going without proper care and protection,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “When new crises emerge, like the COVID-19 pandemic, these children are especially vulnerable. It is essential that governments and humanitarian partners work together to keep them safe, healthy, learning and protected.”

Internally displaced children lack access to basic services and are at risk of exposure to violence, exploitation, abuse and trafficking, the report says. They are also at risk of child labour, child marriage and family separation which all pose direct threats to their health and safety.

The COVID-19 pandemic is making a critical situation for displaced children and families even worse. They often live in overcrowded camps or informal settlements, where access to basic hygiene and health services is limited, and where physical distancing is not possible. These conditions are highly conducive to the spread of diseases like COVID-19.

According to the report, there were 12 million new displacements of children in 2019, 3.8 million of them were caused by conflict and violence, and 8.2 million by disasters linked mostly to weather-related events like flooding and storms.

Through the report, UNICEF calls for strategic investments and a united effort from governments, civil society, private sector, humanitarian actors and children themselves to address the child-specific drivers of displacement, especially all forms of violence, exploitation and abuse.

UNICEF also calls on governments convening under the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement, established by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, to take concrete action and investment that will help provide protection and equitable access to services for all internally displaced children and their families.

Critical to delivering on this agenda is better, timely and accessible data and evidence, disaggregated by age and gender, to improve collective understanding of how internal displacement affects children and their families. Internally displaced children and youth themselves must have a seat at the table, be taken seriously and offered the opportunity to be part of the solution, the report says.

COVID-19: Urgent need for child protection services to mitigate the risk of child sexual abuse and exploitation worldwide

COVID-19 – Child Protection

COVID-19: Urgent need for child protection services to mitigate the risk of child sexual abuse and exploitation worldwide
6 May 2020
GENEVA (6 May 2020) – A UN human rights expert today warned that a reported surge in violence against children and new forms of sexual exploitation and abuse of them during COVID-19 lockdowns will have lifelong implications for millions worldwide.

Mama Fatima Singhateh, the Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children, said between 42 million and 66 million children worldwide are already in a precarious socio-economic situation, even before the hidden impact of the COVID-19 crisis emerges.

“The damage to millions of children will be devastating if we are slow in mobilising child protection services for early detection and prevention,” Singhateh said.

“A comprehensive mapping and rapid and responsive child protection measures are paramount to assess the magnitude of this crisis on the most vulnerable children, including those who are refugees, displaced, homeless, migrants, minorities, slum-dwellers, living with disabilities, living on the streets, living in refugee settlements, and in institutions,” she said.

The independent expert said COVID-19 travel restrictions had spawned new forms of child sexual exploitation and abuse, including attempts to establish a “delivery” or “drive-thru” service for sexual exploitation of children.

“There has also been a spike in the number of attempts to access illegal websites featuring child sexual abuse material. Producing and accessing child sexual abuse material and live-stream child sexual abuse online has now become an easy alternative to groom and lure children into sexual activities and to trade images in online communities,” Singhateh said.

The COVID-19 pandemic will leave those already left behind trailing even further behind. “Our commitments made under Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to leave no one behind is now more relevant than ever.”

Social benefits and social protection nets should prioritise low-income and vulnerable communities and families to alleviate COVID-19 collateral damage on children, the expert said.

Victim and survivor outreach, non-discriminatory child protection systems, public education and awareness campaigns, expanded helpline services and safe accommodation were among essential measures to mitigate harm.

“The UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on children should serve as a roadmap to shape our response to the crisis. In doing so, children should be given the space for meaningful and inclusive participation so that their voices would be heard and amplified in decisions affecting their lives,” Singhateh concluded.

UN issues US$6.7 billion appeal to protect millions of lives and stem the spread of coronavirus in fragile countries

COVID-19 – UN Appeal

UN issues US$6.7 billion appeal to protect millions of lives and stem the spread of coronavirus in fragile countries
07 May 2020
The UN’s Humanitarian Chief, Mark Lowcock, has called for swift and determined action to avoid the most destabilizing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as he releases a US$6.7 billion appeal and an updated global plan to fight coronavirus in fragile countries.

COVID-19 has now reached every country, with nearly 3,596,000 confirmed cases and over 247,650 deaths worldwide. The peak of the disease in the world’s poorest countries is not expected until some point over the next three to six months. However, there is already evidence of incomes plummeting and jobs disappearing, food supplies falling and prices soaring, and children missing vaccinations and meals.

The humanitarian system is taking action to avert a sharp rise in conflict, hunger, poverty and disease as a result of the pandemic and the associated global recession. Today’s updated Global Humanitarian Response Plan has been expanded in response. It includes nine additional vulnerable countries: Benin, Djibouti, Liberia, Mozambique, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Togo and Zimbabwe, and programmes to respond to the growth in food insecurity.

Today’s new appeal and updated humanitarian response plan were released at a virtual event hosted by Mark Lowcock, alongside the Executive Director of WHO Health Emergencies, Mike Ryan; the President and CEO of Oxfam America, Abby Maxman; the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi; and the Executive Director of WFP, David Beasley. The plan was first launched by the UN Secretary-General in March.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock said: “The COVID-19 pandemic is hurting us all. But the most devastating and destabilizing effects will be felt in the world’s poorest countries. In the poorest countries we can already see economies contracting as export earnings, remittances and tourism disappear. Unless we take action now, we should be prepared for a significant rise in conflict, hunger and poverty. The spectre of multiple famines looms.

“If we do not support the poorest people – especially women and girls and other vulnerable groups – as they battle the pandemic and impacts of the global recession, we will all be dealing with the spillover effects for many years to come. That would prove even more painful, and much more expensive, for everyone.

“This pandemic is unlike anything we have dealt with in our lifetime. Business as usual will not do. Extraordinary measures are needed. As we come together to combat this virus, I urge donors to act in both solidarity and in self-interest and make their response proportionate to the scale of the problem we face.”

The COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan is the international community’s primary fundraising vehicle to respond to the humanitarian impacts of the virus in low- and middle- income countries and support their efforts to fight it. The plan brings together appeals from WHO and other UN humanitarian agencies. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and NGO consortiums have been instrumental in helping shape the plan. They are key partners in delivering it and can access funding through it.

The plan provides help and protection that prioritize the most vulnerable. This includes older people, people with disabilities, and women and girls, given pandemics heighten existing levels of discrimination, inequality and gender-based violence. The plan includes programmes that respond to the growth in food insecurity.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said: “The caseload in most countries in the Global Humanitarian Response Plan may seem small, but we know that the surveillance, laboratory testing and health systems’ capacity in these countries are weak. It is therefore likely that there is undetected community transmission happening. At the same time, confinement and other measures are having a major impact on essential health services. It’s extremely important to maintain these services, from vaccination to sexual and reproductive health, WASH and mental health.”

…Since the plan was first launched on 25 March, US$1 billion in generous donor funding has been raised. This includes US$166 million from OCHA’s pooled funds to support efforts across 37 countries, with US$95 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund and US$71 million from 12 Country-based Pooled Funds.

This has enabled:
:: The installation of handwashing facilities in vulnerable places like refugee camps; and the distribution of gloves, surgical masks, N95 respirators, gowns and goggles, and testing kits to help vulnerable countries respond to the pandemic.
:: The creation of new transport hubs from which supplies can be transported by air.
:: More than 1.7 million people around the world, including health workers, to be trained in virus identification and protection measures through WHO’s online COVID-19 training portal.

Everything achieved so far has only been possible because of the generous funding from donors. It can only continue if additional funding is made available that is proportionate to the scale of the problem we face.

Analysis by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs shows that the cost of protecting the most vulnerable 10 per cent of people in the world from the worst impacts is approximately US$90 billion. This is equivalent to 1 per cent of the current global stimulus package put in place by OECD and G20 countries.

It calculates that two thirds of those costs could be met by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund if they are supported to change the terms on which they help the most vulnerable countries. The remainder will need to come from increased official development assistance over the next 12 months.

COVID-19: Americas / prison conditions

Prison Conditions: The Americas

COVID-19: Americas / prison conditions
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Rupert Colville, Spokesperson
Geneva, 5 May 2020
[Editor’s text bolding]
Conditions in many prisons in the Americas region are deeply worrying. Pre-existing structural problems, such as chronic overcrowding and unhygienic conditions, coupled with the lack of proper access to healthcare have enabled the rapid spread of COVID-19 in many facilities.

Thousands of inmates and prison officials have already been infected across North and South America. In many countries, the increasing fear of contagion and lack of basic services — such as the regular provision of food due to the prohibition of family visits — have triggered protests and riots.

Some of these incidents in detention centres have turned extremely violent. The latest happened on 1 May, in Los Llanos penitentiary in Venezuela, where a revolt by prisoners reportedly resulted in 47 inmates losing their lives. Four days earlier, on 27 April, a riot broke out in the Miguel Castro Castro prison in Peru leaving nine inmates dead. On 21 March, 23 inmates died after security forces intervened to supress rioting in La Modelo prison in Colombia. Other incidents, including attempts to escape, have been registered in detention centres in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia, Mexico and the U.S.

The scale and gravity of the incidents mentioned above seem to indicate that in some cases states have not taken appropriate measures to prevent violence in detention facilities, and that state agents may have committed use of force violations in attempts to re-gain control of these facilities. We remind authorities that the use of force must strictly comply with the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination, and that States have the duty to protect inmates’ physical and mental health and well-being, as set out in the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (also known as the Nelson Mandela Rules).

We call on States to conduct thorough, prompt, independent and impartial investigations into the circumstances of the deaths and injuries during riots, including any allegation of use of force violations by state agents.

We have also seen with concern how some States have routinely detained people for allegedly violating mandatory quarantines, thereby increasing the risk of infection.

In El Salvador, extremely harsh security measures were recently imposed in prisons, which could amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and could also exacerbate the already precarious hygiene conditions.

We call on States to take appropriate measures to prevent further spread of the virus by ensuring sanitary conditions, widespread access to testing and access to necessary healthcare for detainees, as well as personal protective equipment and testing for prison personnel. Authorities should guarantee a minimum level of personal contacts with family members and proper access to food and drinkable water, as well as providing regular and transparent information about the impact of the disease on prisoners and staff. Conditions in detention centres and prisons, and the treatment of detainees should be regularly monitored by independent bodies, and prisoners who fall ill should be placed in non-punitive isolation or quarantine in facilities where they can receive appropriate medical care.

We welcome measures taken by some States to release those most vulnerable to COVID-19, including people with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women, older people, people living with HIV, as well as people with disabilities. However, broader measures are needed to reduce the extreme levels of overcrowding by releasing other categories of prisoners serving short sentences for non-violent crimes, as well as children held in detention and people detained for immigration offences.

In doing so, it is essential that States ensure that those measures do not contribute to impunity for violent crimes. People convicted of crimes recognised under international law after a fair and public trial by an independent and impartial tribunal should be considered for temporary release from custody only under exceptional circumstances.

In the context of the pandemic, it is urgent to reduce the use of pre-trial detention – a measure that should always be exceptional, but has been chronically over-used in the Americas. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee Interim Guidance on COVID-19 and persons deprived of their liberty offers practical suggestions to States wishing to implement measures to reduce overcrowding in places of detention.

People detained arbitrarily, without sufficient legal basis, or for crimes that are incompatible with international law, as well as all those incarcerated for exercising their human rights, including expression of dissenting opinions, should also be released.

Authorities should ensure that people who have been released receive proper health care.

Commemorating Smallpox Eradication – a legacy of hope, for COVID-19 and other diseases

Commemorating Smallpox Eradication – a legacy of hope, for COVID-19 and other diseases
8 May 2020 News release
On 8 May 1980, the 33rd World Health Assembly officially declared: ‘The world and all its peoples have won freedom from smallpox.’

The declaration marked the end of a disease that had plagued humanity for at least 3 000 years, killing 300 million people in the 20th century alone.

It was ended, thanks to a 10-year global effort, spearheaded by the World Health Organization, that involved thousands of health workers around the world to administer half a billion vaccinations to stamp out smallpox.

The US$ 300m price-tag to eradicate smallpox saves the world well over US$ 1 billion every year since 1980.

Speaking at a virtual event hosted at WHO-HQ, involving key players in the eradication effort, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity’s victory over smallpox is a reminder of what is possible when nations come together to fight a common health threat.”

…At the event, Dr Tedros unveiled a commemorative postal stamp to recognize the global solidarity that drove the initiative and honour the efforts of health workers who ensured its success.

The stamp, developed by the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA), in collaboration with WHO, signifies what national unity and global solidary can achieve. Numerous countries, such as Guinea, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Togo and others issued smallpox stamps to show support for, and raise awareness about WHO’s Intensified Smallpox Eradication Programme launched in 1967.

…Following smallpox eradication, WHO and UNICEF launched the Expanded Programme on Immunization, under which 85% of the world’s children are vaccinated and protected from debilitating diseases.

With the potential of a COVID-19 vaccine ahead, ensuring sufficient supplies and reaching people in hard to reach places is a high priority. Addressing vaccine hesitancy poses a significant challenge to stop the virus. Access to accurate public health information and education is critical to ensure that the public has the facts to keep themselves and others safe.

To permanently commemorate the eradication of smallpox and the lessons learned on a global scale, rather than every 10-years, WHO is calling museums, exhibition companies, designers, curators and associations to develop an immersive, interactive and educational exhibition on smallpox and its relevance for COVID-19 and global health security.  The exhibition, which will be unveiled later this year, will promote a better understanding of public health and empower people to keep informed and safe during a pandemic.

New WHO estimates: Up to 190 000 people could die of COVID-19 in Africa if not controlled

COVID-19 – Africa

New WHO estimates: Up to 190 000 people could die of COVID-19 in Africa if not controlled
07 May 2020
Brazzaville – Eighty-three thousand to 190 000 people in Africa could die of COVID-19 and 29 million to 44 million could get infected in the first year of the pandemic if containment measures fail, a new study by the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa finds. The research, which is based on prediction modelling, looks at 47 countries in the WHO African Region with a total population of one billion.

The new estimates are based on modifying the risk of transmission and disease severity by variables specific to each country in order to adjust for the unique nature of the region. The model predicts the observed slower rate of transmission, lower age of people with severe disease and lower mortality rates compared to what is seen in the most affected countries in the rest of the world. This is largely driven by social and environmental factors slowing the transmission, and a younger population that has benefitted from the control of communicable diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis to reduce possible vulnerabilities.

The lower rate of transmission, however, suggests a more prolonged outbreak over a few years, according to the study which also revealed that smaller African countries alongside Algeria, South Africa and Cameroon were at a high risk if containment measures are not prioritized.

Containment measures, which include contact tracing, isolation, improved personal hygiene practices and physical distancing aim to slow down the transmission of the virus so its effects happen at a rate manageable by the health system. Physical distancing is not about the confinement of people but rather avoiding unnecessary contacts as people live, work and socialize as a means to interrupt transmission.

“While COVID-19 likely won’t spread as exponentially in Africa as it has elsewhere in the world, it likely will smoulder in transmission hotspots,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa. “COVID-19 could become a fixture in our lives for the next several years unless a proactive approach is taken by many governments in the region. We need to test, trace, isolate and treat.”

The predicted number of cases that would require hospitalization would overwhelm the available medical capacity in much of Africa. There would be an estimated 3.6 million–5.5 million COVID-19 hospitalizations, of which 82 000–167 000 would be severe cases requiring oxygen, and 52 000–107 000 would be critical cases requiring breathing support. Such a huge number of patients in hospitals would severely strain the health capacities of countries…