When a disaster strikes, the efficiency with which emergency supplies can be directed to the affected areas is critical. A multitude of actors, from the United Nations and national governments to NGOs and the private sector, work together on the frontline to achieve effective disaster management. However, despite all the best intentions, relief efforts can easily falter due to practical limitations on the ground. The logistics of getting aid to those that who need it most remains a fundamental challenge.
Using our skills, knowledge and international reach as the world’s leading mail and logistics company, Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL) helps to improve the living conditions of people in need through our GoHelp initiative, part of our corporate responsibility strategy. To achieve this goal, we work in partnership with the UN, focusing on two main areas: disaster preparedness and disaster response.
A core component of DPDHL’s disaster preparedness work has been the Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) initiative, in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP). The aim of GARD is to help airport and national disaster management staff on the ground better manage the influx of incoming emergency relief in the wake of a natural disaster. GARD is based on the premise that if the logistical processes at an airport are in place, the help can be faster and more efficient. The DHL GARD Team, consisting of DPDHL aviation experts, conducts training activities on site, evaluates airport capacity and assesses the regional logistics set-up together with participants from all airport functions. Since its launch in 2009, DPDHL has delivered GARD training in 26 countries, helping 51 international airports to become disaster-ready.
DPDHL has now begun rolling out workshops for local airports under the follow-up initiative, GARD Local. This has been designed as a tailor-made service concentrating on cargo handling processes for smaller local airports, that may be activated as mini-hubs for the inflow and outflow of humanitarian aid in times of disaster.
In November 2019, nearly 40 airport staff in Nepalgunj and Dhangadhi, two sub-metropolitan cities along the eastern border of Nepal, were trained to prepare their airports to handle an influx of humanitarian aid in the event of disaster. The work is based on the lessons learnt from the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Back then, the country’s only international airport in Kathmandu quickly became inundated by the initial influx of aircraft delivering aid, meaning goods couldn’t be handled fast enough. Training for local airports might have allowed alternative options for aid to be distributed.
In addition to the GARD initiative, GoHelp also provides Disaster Response Teams (DRTs). Members of the global DRT network, consisting of our employee volunteers, provide logistics support on the ground in the aftermath of natural disasters. They work at the airport nearest the disaster-affected area, and are responsible for handling air freight arriving on charter flights and for preventing bottlenecks at the airport. DHL’s global network of DRTs can be deployed any time and anywhere within 72 hours at the request of the United Nations.
Through DPDHL’s work in disaster preparedness and relief, we are aiming to close the gap in logistical expertise at airports in disaster-affected regions. In doing so, we have leveraged our existing assets to be on the frontline of efforts to improve the co-ordination and distribution of disaster relief.
Head of Go Help Program, Deutsche Post DHL Group