Understanding material and supplier networks in the construction of disaster-relief shelters: the feasibility of using social network analysis as a decision-making tool

Alexander Copping, N Kuchai, Laura Hattam, Natalia Paszkiewicz, Dima Albadra, Paul Shepherd, Esra Sahin Burat, David Coley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose: Understanding the supply network of construction materials used to construct shelters in refugee camps, or during the reconstruction of communities, is important as it can reveal the intricate links between different stakeholders and the volumes and speeds of material flows to the end-user. Using social network analysis (SNA) enables another dimension to be analysed – the role of commonalities. This is likely to be particularly important when attempting to replace vernacular materials with higher-performing alternatives or when encouraging the use of non-vernacular methods. This paper aims to analyse the supply networks of four different disaster-relief situations. Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected from interviews with 272 displaced (or formally displaced) families in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Turkey, often in difficult conditions. Findings: The results show that the form of the supply networks was highly influenced by the nature/cause of the initial displacement, the geographical location, the local availability of materials and the degree of support/advice given by aid agencies and or governments. In addition, it was found that SNA could be used to indicate which strategies might work in a particular context and which might not, thereby potentially speeding up the delivery of novel solutions. Research limitations/implications: This study represents the first attempt in theorising and empirically investigating supply networks using SNA in a post-disaster reconstruction context. It is suggested that future studies might map the up-stream supply chain to include manufacturers and higher-order, out of country, suppliers. This would provide a complete picture of the origins of all materials and components in the supply network. Originality/value: This is original research, and it aims to produce new knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-105
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management
Issue number1
Early online date28 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are thankful to the fund provided by EPSRC (EP/P029175/1) under the Healthy Housing for the Displaced project (HHfTD), dCarb (EP/L016869/1) University of Bath. DOI for the data is https://doi.org/10.15125/BATH-00707 . We thank all those who participated in the surveys and provided valuable feedback and information.


  • Disaster-relief shelters
  • Humanitarian aid
  • Interviews
  • Refugees
  • Social network analysis
  • Supply network
  • Vernacular materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding material and supplier networks in the construction of disaster-relief shelters: the feasibility of using social network analysis as a decision-making tool'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this