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Managing aid

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One group should be in charge of coordinating all relief efforts during a disaster, says a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is analyzing disaster relief efforts in the wake of December’s tsunami in South Asia to glean information on logistics.

Tim Russell, an engineering master’s student studying logistics, is analyzing the results of a survey of 40 on-site relief organizations conducted by the Fritz Institute, a San Francisco based nonprofit working to improve relief efforts around the world through logistics and technology.

All respondent groups said enough funds were available for relief but a lack of information prevented groups from getting aid to all who needed it, Russell says.

Seven in 10 respondents say they were delayed in their efforts by changes in customs policies, and the survey results suggest not enough people associated with aid teams had needed specialized skills, such as logisticians.

Russell says he hopes his work will result in the use of logistics to help improve the delivery of humanitarian aid in future crises.

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