Man is no match for the power of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions or floods. But there is one thing people can do: they can prepare themselves, so that natural disasters do not automatically become humanitarian disasters.
When natural disasters strike, the airports in and around the disaster zone very often become bottlenecks in the flow of relief supplies, as the existing infrastructure often cannot handle the tremendous volume of incoming goods. As a result, the onward transport of life-saving relief supplies is delayed or rendered impossible. The goal of our "Get Airports Ready for Disaster" (GARD) training program, launched in 2009 together with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is to prevent such bottlenecks.
Efficient airport logistics are critical when it comes to getting aid to the people.
Partnership with the United Nations Development Programme
Our GARD program involves a long-term strategic partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Through this partnership we are able to cooperate closely with local authorities and government ministries in each of the GARD workshop countries. This facilitates both planning and execution of the workshops, as well as subsequent implementation of the action measures identified during the workshops. Through the partnership with UNDP, GARD also becomes a platform for dialogue and exchange between experts in humanitarian logistics and disaster management. The UNDP receives financial support from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) for the GARD program.
The GARD program has continued to grow since the first pilot workshop back in 2009. So far 40 airports around the world have been prepared for disaster situations and more than 800 participants have taken part in the training. For the future we are planning additional GARD workshops, as well as the further expansion of the follow-up program known as "GARD plus".
GARD workshops have already been conducted at 40 airports.
During the GARD workshops, participants develop concrete action plans which are then implemented by airport staff and disaster management authorities. Our trainers developed the "GARD plus" program as a way to monitor the progress of implementation. As part of GARD plus, action measures identified during the course of the initial GARD workshop are reviewed after a period of six to twelve months. The first GARD plus workshop took place in Beirut, Lebanon in December 2012. Participants there had created a GARD committee with the goal of integrating all of the input from the GARD workshop into Lebanon's disaster management program.
During the three-to-five day GARD workshops, the Deutsche Post DHL Group air freight experts act mainly as consultants. The participants themselves, including airport staff and representatives of disaster management agencies, are responsible for developing and finalizing the concrete action measures designed to prepare the airport. To be successful, it is critical that the emergency plans take into account the conditions specific to the individual airport, including architecture, geography, etc. For this reason, the workshops always take place directly at the airport. The workshop also includes a detailed inspection of the airport in question.
Contents of the GARD workshop cover both theory and practice, including an analysis of the airport's maximum processing capacity (goods and passengers) and identification of action measures to quickly increase airport capacity in the event of a natural disaster. Workshop participants also work with the trainers to identify possible bottlenecks at their airport, and to develop concrete measures for avoiding such logjams. The results are documented as part of an action plan for increasing the airport's maximum capacity (Airport Assessment Report).