Partnership to help airports respond to natural disasters expanded

Dec 6, 2016

UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP's Bureu for Policy and Programme Support, Magdy Martínez-Solimán and Christof Ehrhart, Head of Corporate Communications and Corporate Responsibility and Executive Vice President at Deutsche Post DHL signed Memorandum of Understanding for strengthening disaster response and preparedness (Photo: UNDP)

New York, 6 December - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and global logistics company Deutsche Post DHL Group agreed to extend & expand their Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) partnership for an additional three years, until December 2019. Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, met today with Christof Ehrhart, Head of Corporate Communications & Corporate Responsibility and Executive Vice President at Deutsche Post DHL Group, to formally sign the agreement.

“While we cannot stop a storm or earthquake from happening we can be prepared for possible disaster situations,” noted Martínez-Solimán. “The partnership with Deutsche Post DHL recognizes that airports have a vital role to play in preparing for emergencies, not the least of which is the continued flow of goods and services that save lives when needed. UNDP is very excited to be able to extend the GARD partnership.”

In many cases, authorities and relief officials often face serious delays in providing life-saving materials following a disaster, including food, medicine and shelter materials, as well as the additional personnel to help facilitate distribution. The Get Airports Ready for Disaster programme is focused on identifying possible bottlenecks at the airport – such as the ability to unload and store cargo quickly; cold storage for food or medicine; lengthy visa queues for arriving emergency officials; and disruptions in communications – and works with local officials to identify possible solutions and prepare emergency plans.

“Chaos and disorganized workflows at airports after natural disasters often lead to drastic delays in relief supply logistics,” says Christof Ehrhart. “Through the GARD program, our logistics experts can effectively help to ensure readiness for crisis management at airports, even before disaster strikes. When natural disasters do occur, more rapid delivery of relief supplies as a result of this training often mitigates suffering and saves lives.”

Bringing together UNDP’s decades of work in disaster risk reduction and recovery and Deutsche Post DHL Group’s expertise in logistics and shipping, the project, funded by the Government of Germany has benefited over 600 people in 36 airports across 18 countries since 2009. As of December 2016, GARD has been implemented in Armenia, Bangladesh, Commonwealth of Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, FYR Macedonia, Mauritius, Nepal, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

Looking ahead, the Government of Germany has provided US$ 400,000 for at least eight additional airport assessments and trainings in 2016/2017. At the same time, UNDP is working with the Government of India to build on previous trainings and to roll-out a national programme targeting 20 additional airports across the country.

In addition to the extended partnership, Christof Ehrhart was on hand at UNDP’s inaugural Global Goals Gala to receive an award recognizing the partnership between UNDP and Deutsche Post DHL Group.

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