Bosnia and Herzegovina is vulnerable to natural and climate related hazards such as floods, landslides, earthquakes, heat waves, droughts and wild fires. In the immediate aftermath of such disasters, airports play a critical role in channeling humanitarian teams and relief goods quickly to people in need. To build resilience against future natural disasters, Deutsche Post DHL Group and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) team up with Sarajevo International Airport, the Ministry of Security, the Ministry of Communications and Transport, military representatives as well as other government officials and humanitarian response experts at Sarajevo International Airport to conduct their internationally recognized Getting Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) program from September 24 to 28.
In 2014 the flood that impacted parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina was the worst flooding in 120 years and required authorities to declare a state of emergency. The floods affected one million people and destroyed infrastructure, businesses, livelihoods, farms and crops. Sarajevo airport played a key role in flying in relief supplies from abroad. As the effects of climate change continue to manifest themselves, Bosnia and Herzegovina expect to face more extreme weather challenges.
“Creating a disaster resilient infrastructure which includes disaster ready airports is crucial in order to save lives and reduce economic loss”, underlined Sukhrob Khoshmukhamedov, UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina Deputy Resident Representative. “Better preparedness of all institutions involved to promptly act when disaster occurs and coordinate the response is a must”, added Khoshmukhamedov.
“During times of emergency and disaster it is essential to have a trained team and a customized surge response plan in place. All team members should know how to handle the dramatic rise in air traffic and the flow of goods and people that typically follows a disaster,” said Chris Weeks, Director of Humanitarian Affairs for Deutsche Post DHL Group. “Sarajevo International Airport is a strategically important airport in case of a natural disaster. In the Region Armenian and Kazakh airport authorities are already GARD trained and therefore well prepared for a surge in air traffic.”
Over 25 participating officials and experts will join the four-day GARD workshop led by Deutsche Post DHL Group and UNDP experts. During the program, participants and trainers will evaluate the current level of preparedness at the airport, conduct training exercises, and develop specific recommendations as well as an individual action plan to ensure that the airport is prepared for future disasters.
Armin Kajmaković, director of International airport Sarajevo underscored the importance infrastructural capabilities and efficient administrative procedures play in quickly and effectively channeling relief efforts from airports to affected communities. “In addition to reassessing airport facilities and strengthening staff expertise, the workshop will lead to a series of follow-up activities including an action plan that we can use to build up our readiness for any potential emergencies,” Kajmaković continued. “We are committed to working together with all emergency counterparts to follow up on implementation and further strengthening our resilience.”
In 2009, GARD was developed by Deutsche Post DHL Group in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the aim of preparing airports in disaster-prone areas to handle the surge of incoming relief goods after a natural disaster occurs. It also enables the various organizations and aid agencies to better understand the processes at the airport in the aftermath of a disaster, which will help facilitate relief efforts and enhance overall coordination.
To date, GARD workshops have been held at more than 43 airports in Armenia, Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Macedonia, the Maldives, Nepal, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, the Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Turkey.
GARD trainers and training materials are provided free-of-charge by Deutsche Post DHL Group while UNDP leads the project implementation and facilitates the coordination with the national authorities and governmental ministries. GARD training workshop arrangements and logistics costs are fully covered by UNDP with funding contribution by the government of Germany.
GARD is an integral part of Deutsche Post DHL Group’s GoHelp program in which the Group pools all of its activities related to disaster preparedness and management. As a form of crisis prevention, GARD workshops are used to prepare airports for coping with potential natural disasters. Should a disaster strike, Disaster Response Teams (DRTs) provide emergency aid and ensure that relief supplies can be accepted in a coordinated manner and passed on to the correct aid organizations.
The DRTs were established in cooperation with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). They encompass a worldwide network of more than 400 volunteers, all specially trained employees of Deutsche Post DHL Group.