Deutsche Post DHL (DPDHL) Group has ended its first Disaster Response Team (DRT) deployment in Africa after helping move nearly 800 tonnes of relief cargo.
On 12 April the last DRT members moved out of Beira, Mozambique where cyclone Idai the month before, damaged over 700,000 hectares of crops, and destroyed close to 200,000 homes. Idai also slammed into neighbouring Zimbabwe and Malawi causing significant loss of life and damage.
The team, in its time at Beira, moved nearly 800 tonnes of incoming humanitarian aid from approximately 50 aircraft for further distribution to those displaced and affected by this natural disaster.
DPDHL Group’s DRT was deployed at Beira Airport (BEW) between 24 March and 12 April at the request of the United Nations (UN). In total, 12 DHL volunteers from Mozambique, South Africa and United Arab Emirates worked in rotation across three teams. Over the course of nearly three weeks, the volunteers handled incoming relief goods and coordinated incoming humanitarian aid for the UN and international relief organisations.
Chris Weeks, director for Humanitarian Affairs at DPDHL who headed up the deployment says: “This particular deployment was groundbreaking for us in that it was our first mission to Africa. The challenges however were familiar and within the first few days of arriving the DRT firmly established its coordination expertise in the supply chain of incoming humanitarian aid.
“All too often the sudden influx of relief aid to an airport creates bottlenecks and aid is unable to get out in a timely manner. This was precisely the scenario the team was trying to avoid and able to do so successfully.”
During their time in Mozambique, the DRT acted as a liaison between the Beira Airport Authorities (ADM) and the large humanitarian community who occupied a vast area at the airport. The team supported international relief organisations such as IFRC, UNICEF, UNHCR, WHO, ASB, WFP, USAid and UKAid, and assisted with handling equipment, driving forklifts and high-loaders, and ensuring there was no build-up of incoming shipments.
“Over 80 partners including the Government of Mozambique, NGOs, UN agencies and Red Cross teams are taking part in the humanitarian response following Cyclone Idai, one of the worst tropical cyclones ever to hit Africa and the southern hemisphere,” says Stephen Cahill, Global Logistics Cluster coordinator at United Nations World Food Programme.
“The logistics expertise of Deutsche Post DHL Group’s DRT complemented the relief efforts from all these different partners at Beira Airport. We are grateful to the DHL volunteers who worked tirelessly alongside the humanitarian community to help move relief items efficiently in order for those affected to receive help as quickly as possible”, adds Cahill.