Deutsche Post DHL Group, the leading mail and logistics company, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office in Mauritius has conducted a disaster preparedness program, Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in Mauritius.
The workshop, developed by Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL Group) and UNDP aims to better prepare the airports to handle the surge of incoming relief goods, should a major natural disaster strike.
Mauritius is prone to natural disasters and in particular to cyclones. As such, it is imperative that plans be developed to enable the airport to be able to support natural disaster management response. The workshop will bring together representatives of all aspects of airport operations, The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center, the Red Cross, United Nations agencies as well as representatives of civil aviation authorities from Seychelles and Reunion Island.
“This important workshop will be the first of its kind to be held in Africa and the first for a small island state and will build upon the support of the UNDP in Mauritius in supporting Disaster Management and Disaster Risk reduction,” noted Simon Springett, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Mauritius and the UNDP Resident Representative.
Chris Weeks, Director of Humanitarian Affairs at Deutsche Post DHL Group, said, “The GARD workshop allows us to work with authorities to increase the surge capacity of airports after natural disasters. It also helps to improve the overall coordination across various organizations involved in relief efforts when a disaster hits. Using our logistics expertise and the partnership with UNDP, we have together completed 30 GARD workshops and trained 600 people at airports around the world.”
Rahman Bholah, Country Manager, DHL Mauritius, said, “During natural calamities, the Airport becomes the center for international support after a natural disaster has hit. The GARD program is coordinated jointly with the national stakeholders – from airport authorities to emergency services such as the special mobile force, police helicopter squadron as well as the security manager. It is therefore vital to prepare all relevant stakeholders to be able to work hand in hand in this situation and to develop a contingency plan that will respond well to an emergency and its potential humanitarian impact”.
GARD was developed by Deutsche Post DHL Group in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the aim of preparing airports in disaster-prone areas to handle the surge of incoming relief goods after a natural disaster occurs. It also enables the various organizations and aid agencies to better understand the processes at the airport in the aftermath of a disaster, which will help facilitate relief efforts and enhance overall coordination.
GARD trainers and materials are provided free-of-charge by DPDHL Group while UNDP leads the project implementation and facilitate the coordination with the government authorities. GARD training workshop arrangements and logistics costs are fully covered by UNDP with funding contribution by the government of Germany.
The GARD concept complements the disaster management program of Deutsche Post DHL Group, including the DHL Disaster Response Teams (DRT). DRTs step in to organize the logistics at airports following a disaster and this has been implemented at over 30 airports since its launch in 2005. The DRTs, which work free-of-charge and in close cooperation with the United Nations, help keep the flow of incoming relief goods moving at disaster-site airports. Both GARD and DRT form GoHelp, part of the Group’s Corporate Responsibility Program “Living Responsibility”. Both programs are conducted in partnership with the United Nations on the basis of a voluntary engagement.
To this date, GARD has been implemented at 30 airports in Indonesia (2009, 2011), Nepal and Bangladesh (2010), Lebanon and Turkey (2012), El Salvador, Panama, Philippines, Armenia (2013), Peru, Philippines, Jordan, Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka (2014), as well as Macedonia, Dominican Republic and India (2015).