OREANDA-NEWS. April 08, 2014. Deutsche Post DHL and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched a Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) workshop at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

The workshop prepares airport personnel for the logistics of emergencies, including handling high volumes of incoming goods and passengers in the aftermath of a disaster. The 52 participants are a mix of staff from airport operations, air traffic control, security and relevant disaster management agencies that play a vital role in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

Deutsche Post DHLs GARD program was developed in cooperation with UNDP and aims to prepare airports in disaster-prone areas to handle a disaster-related surge in people and goods. GARD trainers are DHL experts in the field who conduct the training on a pro bono basis and provide relevant materials while UNDP manages the project, leads the coordination with local government authorities, and provides funds to shoulder workshop costs.

Blueprint in times of disaster

Through these workshops, Deutsche Post DHL is able to work together with authorities all over the world to analyze and define the capacities needed at airports in case of natural disasters. Most importantly, it helps all parties involved to develop a blueprint specific to each location in times of disaster, said Christof Ehrhart, Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications and Responsibility at Deutsche Post DHL. Following the recent experience with Typhoon Haiyan, this training will equip the Mactan-Cebu International Airport team with the right skills to manage the logistics of relief goods and other materials that will arrive at the airport following a natural catastrophe, he added.

Our partnership with DHL offers us the chance to better prepare airports for the challenges associated with emergency relief, says Jo Scheuer, UNDPs Global Coordinator for Disaster Risk Reduction. In each country where we implement GARD, the workshop is part of a wide range of disaster risk reduction measures, helping partners to prevent, mitigate and prepare for disasters.

DHL Disaster Response Teams
The GARD training takes place after the Philippines were hit by devastating Typhoon Haiyan last November. A DHL Disaster Response Team supported at the local Mactan Cebu airport for almost three weeks, sorting relief goods and preparing them for their further transport. Following their deployment, the Cebu Provincial Government and Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority requested the GARD program to be run at the airport. This will be the second implementation of a GARD workshop in the Philippines after a first successful training in Manila in May 2013. We live in a country located along the Ring of Fire, or typhoon belt, where annually approximately 80 typhoons develop above its tropical waters. We have already witnessed what the effects can be, and hence, want to be as prepared as possible in the event we are faced with a similar scenario in the future, said Nigel Paul C. Villarete, General Manager, Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

Deutsche Post DHLs disaster management program

The GARD concept complements the disaster management program of Deutsche Post DHL, which also includes the DHL Disaster Response Teams, and the comprehensive risk reduction work of UNDP. A long-term partner of the Philippines government, UNDP has been focused on institutional and policy changes that enhance and enable disaster prevention and preparedness. Meanwhile, DHLs Disaster Response Teams (DRT) step in to organize the logistics at airports following a disaster and have been deployed over 20 times since its launch in 2005. The DRTs, in close cooperation with the UN, help keep the flow of incoming relief goods moving at disaster-site airports. Both GARD and DRT form part of the Group's Corporate Responsibility Program Living Responsibility. Both programs are conducted in partnership with the UNDP and are offered free of charge. To date, GARD has been implemented at 23 airports in Indonesia (2009, 2011, 2012), Nepal (2010), Bangladesh (2011), Lebanon (2012), Turkey (2012), El Salvador (2013), Philippines (2013), Panama (2013), Armenia (2013) and Peru (2014).