Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD)

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Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD)

Disasters threaten the wellbeing of millions of people all over the world. Climate change, weak governance, and an increasing concentration of people and assets in areas exposed to natural hazards are driving disaster risk upwards, especially in poor and fragile countries. This poses a critical threat to achieving the SDGs and traps people in cycles of poverty and vulnerability, leaving them only more exposed to future disasters.  

Over the past decade more than 1.5 billion people have been affected by disasters that have cost at least US$ 1.3 trillion. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) helps countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to sustain development results. UNDP recognizes that the threat posed by disasters is magnified by the fact that disasters are often sudden and require immediate response. In the wake of a disaster, however, providing an immediate response is highly challenging.

Disaster preparedness measures and planning reduce the impacts of disasters. Airport preparedness is vital to ensure relief goods and supplies reach the affected victims on time. Thus, the capacity of an airport to manage the influx of humanitarian aid and personnel efficiently determines the quality and timeliness of humanitarian assistance.

Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) is a public-private partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), DHL Group, and Airports Council International (ACI) to address the need for enhanced airport preparedness and response capacity in disaster situations. GARD prepares airports as logistics hubs in the event of disaster by assessing airport capacities to manage the influx of humanitarian aid and personnel in disaster response situations; training airport staff and disaster responders on how to manage this influx; and helping authorities to develop an action plan to increase the response capacity and guide response operations at the airport.

Since its setup in 2009, GARD has been implemented in more than 60 airports across 28 countries and trained over 1,650 professionals including airport managers and operations staff, civil aviation authorities, and national disaster management officials.

Integral to the long-term success of GARD are its partners. GARD trainings at Languindingan Airport (CGY) in July 2023, and at the new Clark International Airport (CRK) in November 2022, saw a strong local partner in the form of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), the country’s major private sector vehicle and coordinator for disaster risk reduction, who are expected to take an increasingly leading role in the roll-out and scale-up of GARD across the country. The Philippines could mirror a territorial approach to GARD, with a network of prepared airports across the country, similar to that championed in Peru since 2014 whereby 11 airports implemented GARD as part of a country-wide initiative to create a strategic network of disaster-prepared airports and ports.

In the Maldives, insufficient capacities at its critical points of entry were exposed during humanitarian response to a state of emergency in 2014, after a fire at the only water treatment plant in Malé left residents without safe drinking water. This was a call to action, prompting the roll-out of GARD at Velana International Airport (MLE) in Malé in August 2017. The benefits of GARD at were later evident during COVID-19 pandemic response in the Maldives. “The process was smooth because there was already an understanding that airport authorities and stakeholders in disaster management needed to collaborate, and these relationships had already been formed and strengthened through GARD” said Kashif Naseer, NDMA Maldives.  


GARD Plus is a workshop format aimed at monitoring the progress of implementation of the airport capacity assessment recommendations established following the standard one-week GARD workshop. As part of GARD Plus, the key measures which had been identified during the initial GARD workshop are typically reviewed after a period of twelve months.  

In view of the increasing demands to better prepare regional airports for disasters, GARD Train the Facilitator has also been established to scale up the GARD program within countries that are above average risk. The GARD Train the Facilitator program trains local topic experts to become facilitators and conduct GARD workshops in their own countries.  

The GARD Train the Facilitator workshop format was piloted at the Calicut International Airport in Kozhikode City, India, in 2016. Fourteen airport operations experts from across India gathered for a five-day training workshop to learn how to evaluate the current level of airport preparedness, conduct training exercises, develop specific recommendations, and ready an action plan to ensure that airports are prepared for future disasters.


For further information on Get Airports Ready for Disaster, please contact:

Ioana Creitaru  |

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)  

Cheryl Chen  |

DHL Group