Disaster preparedness program: "Get Airports Ready for Disaster" (GARD)
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.
- Conducted by DHL air freight experts
- Aimed at airport managers and disaster management organization employees
- Brings together the key players in a possible disaster relief effort
- Conveys a practical approach to disaster relief in 3-5 day training courses
- Includes workshops as well as a formal risk analysis of the airport infrastructure
- Results in an action plan to increase the airport's maximum capacity (Airport Assessment Report)
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.
GARD: Achievements so far and look ahead
The GARD program has continued to grow since the first pilot workshop back in 2009. So far 35 airports around the world have been prepared for disaster situations and more than 750 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".
Refresher concept "GARD plus" fosters a sustainable approach
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.
Workshop and methodology
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).
GARD workshops in 2016
From September 5 to 9 at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, Lombok International Airport and Selaparang Airport in Lombok Germany’s Deutsche Post DHL Group and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) once again conducted their joint preventative training GARD. . Indonesia was the pilot country when the program was implemented globally in 2009 - in Makassar and Palu.
Indonesia is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire where several continental plates collide. As a result, the chain of islands is at frequent risk of earthquakes, tsunamis and active volcanoes. The multi-day workshop involved 75 participants – including representatives from the airport operating company, aviation safety experts, national and regional Disaster Management Planning Agencies, Indonesian Red Cross, immigration authorities, the military and the police force.
After the successful workshop in Mauritius in February another workshop for the region was conducted in Seychelles - Africa’s smallest island nation. From August 23 to 26, 39 participants in the four-day “Get Airports Ready for Disaster” (GARD) workshop were trained to handle the logistical challenges that typically follow a natural disaster. These include processing high volumes of passengers and cargo after floods, earthquakes or hurricanes. The training involved evaluating the airport’s capacities, including potential warehousing space for relief supplies, and drawing up customized, location-specific disaster plans. “With natural disasters and severe storms increasing in severity with the advent of climate change, we recognize the importance in developing a strong and informed action plan for the airport to respond at its best to natural disasters.” noted Simon Springett, United Nations Resident Coordinator for Seychelles and the UNDP Resident Representative.
The second GARD workshop to be held in India took place in April. Trainers from DHL Express, DHL Global Forwarding, DHL Supply Chain and Blue Dart shared their logistics expertise - a must-have at airports during a natural disaster - with workshop participants. Chennai and the surrounding region are regularly affected by flooding. That is why it is important to ensure that relief goods can be processed and prepared for distribution as speedily as possible. "Chennai Airport is the fourth-busiest airport in India, playing host to more than 11 million passengers between April and December 2015. With the continued threat of natural disasters occurring in the region, we recognize the vital role that our airports play in the relief efforts. This GARD workshop in Chennai follows our previous session in Guwahati in December 2015 as we remain committed to ensure that our airports remain operational during and in the aftermath of disasters," explained Mr. A. K. Dutta, Operations, Airports Authority of India.
Africa's first GARD workshop was held February 2016 in Mauritius. Twenty-nine experts gathered at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport, some 40 kilometers southwest of the capital city Port Luis, where they took part in the four-day disaster preparedness program and developed a contingency plan. Mauritius, an in island nation located in the southwestern Indian Ocean, is geographically prone to natural disasters, especially cyclones.
The workshop was a success. "It was a pleasure working with such a highly motivated group of people," said Kim Melville, who led the GARD training sessions in Mauritius. The airport’s experts were quick to recognize the benefits of the GARD program and felt better prepared to respond should natural disaster strike. Participant feedback was positive.
GARD workshops in 2015
Beginning of December 2015 one of our GARD workshops took place in in the north east region of India, which is among the most seismically active region and considered as the sixth major earthquake-prone belt in the world. Guwahati International Airport in Assam will host the first GARD programme to be held in India. In order to be better prepared for natural disasters Guwahati airport authorities, the Disaster Management Authorities, Assam State Disaster Management Authoritiy, the Indian Air Force and the International Organization for Migration participated at the workshop. DHL Express India said, "During natural calamities, the Guwahati International Airport becomes a critical nerve center as it is the only airport catering to international air travel to India's North East region. During the GARD workshop participants worked in small groups on ways to enhance airport capacity and to develop action plans. Our GARD trainers supported them with specially geared training materials and of course with their unique expertise.
In early October, Deutsche Post DHL Group aviation experts held a "Get Airports Ready for Disaster" (GARD) workshop at the Cibao International Airport and in early 2014 on Las Americas Airport in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. The workshop involved 22 participants, ranging from airport staff, security officers and firefighters to representatives of local government agencies and authorities. Eleven GARD trainers from Panama, Guatemala and Costa Rica - all volunteers from DHL Aviation and DHL Express - conducted the instructional sessions. Together they assessed the facilities and developed detailed plans and personalized responses. They also staged a simulation to put into practice appropriate emergency reactions. Undoubtedly it makes a difference for the earthquake-prone Dominican Republic. With at least 14 geological faults in the region, there is a constant high risk of seismic activity. That's why employees from various local airports took part in advance training sessions in order to apply what they learned at their own facilities.
Our first GARD workshop in 2015 took place in Macedonia's capital Skopje, following a request from the national disaster management authority. Macedonia's population, environment and economy are exposed to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods and wildfires. In order to be better prepared for these risks, 25 airport authorities and representatives from disaster management organizations, the Red Cross, the UNDP and DHL aviation experts assessed the Alexander the Great Airport in Skopje. They focused on ways to increase the airport’s surge capacity in order to manage and process relief goods in a more efficient way in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
GARD workshops in 2014
Sri Lanka is situated in a seismically active zone, where the risk of earthquakes, including undersea earthquakes, is significant. In the event of a natural disaster, Bandaranaike International Airport outside Colombo - Sri Lanka's only international airport - takes on even greater strategic importance. The 2014 GARD workshop in Sri Lanka began with a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Pacific tsunami of 2004. The workshop's 33 participants, from a diverse range of functions, then spent four days analyzing the airport's infrastructure and identifying improvement areas.
Uthira Ravikumar, UNDP Programme Analyst, was very pleased with the workshop: "The GARD workshop in Colombo was very well organized," he said. "Representatives from the airport, the UN and various NGO's were able to develop a long list of recommendations." Representatives from Sri Lanka's national disaster management and civil aviation authorities as well as the disaster management experts from UNDP Sri Lanka and GARD trainers from Deutsche Post DHL Group all agreed to implement the recommendations and to follow-up with a GARD plus initiative in six months' time.
The Dominican Republic is in a region prone to earthquakes and hurricanes. A GARD workshop was held in October 2014 in the Dominican Republic to prepare the Las Américas International Airport, one of the Caribbean's largest, for the logistical challenge of a disaster relief effort. The workshop's 32 participants included airport managers and technical personnel, as well as representatives from UN organizations OCHA, WFP and UNDAC. Together with the eight GARD trainers, participants worked to identify the major challenges associated with transporting relief supplies in the wake of a disaster. They then developed concrete action measures for increasing the airport's capacity in an emergency situation.
Director of airport operations Carlos Rodoli expressed his gratitude to the UNDP and DHL trainers for their support. "The workshop helped us improve existing emergency plans," said Rodoli. The government of the Dominican Republic also considered the GARD workshop a positive contribution to the country's development. At the conclusion of the workshop Minister of Defense Sigfrido A. Pared Pérez was on hand to present workshop participants with their certificates.
In September 2014 a five-day GARD workshop was conducted at Amman's Queen Alia International Airport. Under the direction of eight GARD trainers, the workshop's 33 participants, including airport staff and representatives from government authorities, worked in small groups on ways to enhance airport capacity. Also among the participants were two representatives from regional airports, which would also be involved relief efforts in the event of a disaster. The workshop in Amman introduced new training materials for the first time. These were developed by GARD trainers to address the needs and requirements of the respective airport in even greater detail. The director of UNDP Jordan confirmed the consistently positive feedback from participants: "GARD is a very practical, hands-on initiative and, in the event of a disaster, will really improve efficiency at the airport."
After a GARD workshop was held in October 2013 at Zvartnots International Airport near the Armenian capital Yerevan, the object of the follow-up GARD plus course in July 2014 was to fine-tune the risk analysis performed in 2013 and to integrate the recommendations from the first GARD workshop into Armenia's national disaster management program. "I was impressed by the work of the United Nations and the Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations," said workshop leader and DHL GoHelp manager Paul Dowling. "It was clearly noticeable how much work the participants had invested in the project since the first GARD workshop."
In April 2014, several months after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines and our DRTs were deployed to support relief efforts there, a GARD workshop was conducted at Mactan-Cebu International Airport to improve the airport's preparedness for future disasters. Seven GARD trainers and 51 participants worked on ways to increase the airport's capacity.
Located in the heart of the Andes, Peru has several active volcanoes and experiences earthquakes on a regular basis. To prepare Peru's airports for the logistical challenge of a disaster relief effort, two GARD workshops were conducted in March 2014 for a total of 65 participants. One of the workshops was held at the international airport outside the capital city Lima. The second workshop was conducted at the Pisco regional airport on the Pacific coast, designated as a secondary hub for incoming relief supplies in the event of a natural disaster. Pisco Airport is also connected by a feeder road to the Pan American Highway, which would expedite the transport relief supplies in the event of an emergency. Participants considered the workshops a big success and a good preparation for future emergency situations.
GARD workshops in 2013
After Armenia's strongest earthquake to date took the lives of some 25,000 people in 1988, the impact of the disaster can still be felt today. In October 2013, at the Zvartnots International Airport in Armenia's capital city Yerevan, six GARD trainers presented the Deutsche Post DHL Group disaster prevention program to 34 workshop participants, including representatives from the airport authority and Armenia's national disaster management authority. Armen Chilingaryan, Armenia's Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Project Coordinator for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), reported on the success of the workshop: "The workshop provides a stable foundation for further cooperation between the UNDP and Deutsche Post DHL Group; our collaboration will continue into the future."
As part of a five-day seminar conducted at two airports near Panama's city of Tocumen, a team of eight GARD trainers and assistants helped the 44 participants conduct a detailed analysis of airport capacity. The group identified potential weak points, i.e. where bottlenecks might occur during a relief effort, and developed an action plan to increase the airport's maximum capacity. Simulations allowed participants to experience a barrage of incoming planes loaded with relief supplies - and to develop ways to handle such peak loads. Participant feedback on the GARD workshop was very positive.
32 participants took an active part in the GARD Workshop in Manila, the Philippines from 27th to 30th May, lead by 7 DHL GARD Trainers. The Philippines – located within the 'Pacific Ring of Fire' – make it susceptible to earthquakes, landslides, tornados, typhoons and other natural disasters.
"With regular and updated planning and training in place, this will mitigate the risks associated with a sudden onset of a natural disaster", said Toshihiro Tanaka, Country Director, United Nations Development Programme.
El Salvador, known as the "Land of Volcanoes", faces a triple threat of volcanic activity, earthquakes and hurricanes. "This makes prevention all the more important," says UNDP Country Director Stefano Pettinato. "El Salvador is taking part in the GARD initiative because it wants to proactively address the challenges of its geography." At the GARD workshop from April 23 - 26, thirty-two participants together with the GARD trainers, conducted a risk analysis of the Cuscatalán International and Ilopango airports and drafted emergency plans.
Four GARD plus workshops took place in 2013. The purpose of these trainings is to follow-up on earlier GARD workshops, to refresh participants' knowledge, and to further develop the plans drafted in the original GARD workshops. Participants in the GARD plus training in Lebanon used a simulation to test earlier recommendations. In El Salvador, participants worked with GARD trainers to fine-tune the emergency plans drafted during the original GARD workshop. In Indonesia, the Ministry of Transportation invited representatives from several airports to a workshop to familiarize them with the GARD method. At the GARD plus workshop at Panama's airport, the focus was on developing ways to better integrate GARD into Panama's disaster management program.
GARD workshops in 2012
"I think the GARD workshop should be continued for allairports in Indonesia," says a GARD participant. This would be challenging,considering Indonesia has more than 100 different airports. 6 of them havealready received the GARD workshop; the latest 2 on Sumatra island in November2012. Due to its geographical location and geological construction,Sumatra, one of Indonesia'slargest islands is subject to a number of natural disaster events such asearthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, wildfires and typhoons.
GARD has been successfully introduced in Europe’s largest metropolitan areas and one of the fastest growing cities: Istanbul. Turkey is hit by hundreds of earthquakes per year. Most of these earthquakes are small in size but, occasionally, the earthquakes reach above magnitude 7.0. In the next few years, an earthquake in the immediate area of Istanbul is expected. Thus, the GARD workshop was extremely helpful and contributed a great deal to the region's preparedness in the event of a disaster.
Lebanon is subjected to a range of natural hazards, the largest, single, natural disaster threat is that of a severe earthquake or an associated Tsunami. In Beirut, the capital of Lebanon the poorly planned urbanization has greatly increased exposure and vulnerabilities of the Beirut citizens to seismic losses. The building stock in large parts of the town is old; the roads narrow and building safety practices are absent. Thus, GARD equipped everyone with tools and knowledge to better handle aid supplies in crisis situations.
GARD workshops in 2011
Indonesia is one of the most disaster-prone countries. It is subject to a number of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions and thus, in need for disaster prevention initiatives. GARD workshop was conducted at two airports in Indonesia – one on Bali and one in West Timor. A total of 31 airport and disaster management personnel took part in the program; 15 of the participants came from other Indonesian airports to receive workshop. Also on hand were eight representatives from the UNDP and the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) as well as members of the Indonesian Red Cross.
Bangladesh is a high-risk country for both earthquakes and tsunamis. It also experiences regular flooding, with a large portion of the nation situated in the Ganges River Delta, at the confluence of several rivers and along the Gulf of Bengal. Many of the country's cities are just a few meters above sea level. To better handle disaster situations, 20 individuals from both airports and disaster control organizations took part in the GARD workshop program held in Bangladesh. The workshop was conducted in the country’s capital of Dhaka and in the southern city of Chittagong.
GARD workshops in 2010
Nepal was the first location to receive the GARD workshop after the program’s 2009 pilot workshop. The Himalayan country was selected due its high-risk of earthquakes, mudslides and drought. For this reason the GARD workshop was used to evaluate five different airports in Nepal. A total of 24 employees took part in the workshop.