Abstract for:Policy Analysis of Material Convergence Challenges During Disasters

Material convergence, also known as unsolicited in-kind donations, poses significant challenges during disasters. The inflow of supplies and donations has both positive effects – making much-needed material available – and negative ones – jamming the supply chain. While other studies have investigated supply chains overwhelmed by unsolicited donations, ours is the first to map the feedback processes influencing its overall dynamics and to offer a comprehensive analysis on how ten different policies affect the system. A first set of policies deal with the quantity of material entering the system: these include policies that impose an acceptance threshold for non-priority materials, constrain storage space, increase humanitarian organizations’ budget for material acquisition, and pre-position materials. A second set of policies regulate the proportion between high-priority and non-priority materials; these include policies that increase donor education, increase coordination among humanitarian organizations, and withhold non-priority materials at the warehouse. A third set of policies regulate the speed of the material flows and increase humanitarian organizations' human resources, increase the number of points of distribution, and improve capacity allocation decisions. Our analyses show that the unintended consequences of some policies trump their intended rationality, leading to undesirable outcomes.