Decision support for Foodbank South Africa

  • NM Watson University of Cape Town
  • TJ Stewart University of Cape Town
  • L Scott University of Cape Town


This paper employs a combined 'soft-hard' OR approach to aid decision making in the area of allocation at a not-for-profit organization, Foodbank South Africa (FBSA), that represents the largest hunger-relief network in South Africa. Two problem-structuring tools, causal mapping and root definitions (RDs) are utilized. Causal mapping is used to identify areas for useful research within FBSA, and gain a greater understanding of the organization in terms of its goals and consequently a good appreciation of the context in which decisions are made. Root definitions are employed to acquire a better understanding of the 'decision-issues' within the allocation system at the Cape Town warehouse. A simulation model is developed to imitate daily allocation decisions, with the end-objective of assisting decision-making by developing a range of allocation policies. A decision support system (DSS) is developed to help FBSA manage their agency database, automate some of the daily allocation decisions and simulate allocation policies.


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