Deutsche Post DHL Group and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Nepal today rolled out its first Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) Local workshops.
Over the next four days, nearly 40 airport staff in Nepalgunj (KEP) and Dhangadhi (DHI), two sub-metropolitan cities along the eastern border of Nepal, will be trained to prepare their airports to handle an influx of humanitarian aid in the event of disaster.
DHL says the decision to train local airports in Nepal is a result of lessons learnt from the 2015 earthquake. The taxiway at Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM) in Kathmandu, the country’s sole international airport, had crumbled under the initial influx of aircraft delivering aid, making it impossible for subsequent large aircraft to land. Had there been a support network of trained local airports in the vicinity, aid might have been able to land elsewhere for more efficient onward distribution, it says.
DHL air network and logistics experts have been running GARD workshops since 2009, having trained more than 50 international airports in over 25 countries.
“The team realised that there was demand from local airports to get trained as well,” said Kim Melville, Lead GARD trainer, GoHelp Program, Deutsche Post DHL Group. This new GARD Local format has been designed as a tailor-made service for smaller local airports that currently do not have the required expertise, and that may be activated as mini-hubs for the inflow and outflow of humanitarian aid in times of disaster.
“Additionally, the aim of this new format is to develop a preparedness assessment model that can then be rolled out to other domestic airports by the civil aviation authorities who have themselves been trained,” says Melville.
The GARD Local workshops seek to train local civil aviation authorities from key domestic airports to assess cargo and air operations, with new sections on risks and onward logistics in contrast to the original GARD modules.
“The Government of Nepal is eager to prepare all concerned personnel to respond to disasters in a timely manner,” says Ayshanie Medagangoda-Labé, resident representative of UNDP Nepal.
“UNDP, as a long-time partner, is pleased to support the government’s efforts in achieving that goal. This initiative of making airports more resilient is part of our joint collaboration.”
Medagangoda-Labé also notes that the GARD workshop is crucial to disaster-prone countries like Nepal as it will help in immediate response actions during disasters. “We have completed a workshop for Tribhuvan International Airport and we aspire to extend this training to all 28 operational domestic airports. Airport service is crucial during emergencies and this type of workshop will help prepare for future humanitarian efforts,” she adds.
The disaster response initiative falls under DPDHL Group’s GoHelp initiative, a corporate responsibility program focusing on disaster management. In addition to the GARD initiative, GoHelp also comprises a Disaster Response Team (DRT).
Following the major earthquake that hit Nepal in 2015, over 33 Asia Pacific DRT volunteers were deployed to support humanitarian logistics operations at Tribhuvan International Airport. Four teams in rotation spent over 30 days relieving the congested tarmac area of humanitarian supplies, delivering cargo to airside warehouses, and transporting relief goods to NGOs’ warehouses. During its time there, the DRT processed 80-120 tonnes of relief goods each day.
To date, GARD workshops have been held at over 50 airports in Armenia, Bangladesh, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Honduras, India, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Macedonia, the Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Turkey.