Deutsche Post DHL, the world’s leading mail and logistics services group and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Ministry of Disaster Management and Ministry of Civil Aviation has kicked off a disaster preparedness initiative ‘Get Airports Ready for Disaster’ (GARD) workshop in Colombo.
The four-day workshop is currently underway (2 to 5 December), and will provide training to 34 Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) personnel to effectively deliver and support vital relief operations in the aftermath of a natural disaster.The GARD training is strongly supported by the Ministry of Disaster Management and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, both of whom were represented at the program’s kick-off ceremony.
Secretary to t he Ministry of Disaster Management, S. M. Mohamed said, “We consider GARD to be an essential part of improved disaster preparedness at a national level. GARD will have special significance for Sri Lanka being an island country, which depends heavily on airports to get required external assistance and inputs in the event of a national disaster. We look forward to gaining from the DHL-UNDP experience at the GARD workshop and getting our airports prepared to face disasters of all scales.”
Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Dr. T.R.C. Ruberu added, “The GARD workshop will provide training and key expertise for our officials to swiftly respond to disaster situations. The Ministry of Civil Aviation is keen to work together with DHL and UNDP to ensure that our airports are resilient and responsive in the face of disasters.”Launched in 2009, the GARD program was co-developed by Deutsche Post DHL and UNDP with the objective of preparing airports in disaster-prone areas to respond quickly and effectively to the challenges of disaster relief logistics.
“GARD initiative is our way of being able to pass on our logistics expertise to local communities so they may be able to operate swiftly despite the high-pressure challenges they may face in times of disaster,” explained Chris Weeks, Director of Humanitarian Affairs for DHL. Participants at the four-day workshop will receive training on GARD Methodology, airport assessment and the formulation of an action plan, through a mix of classroom elements and on-site assessment work. GARD trainers are DHL experts in this field who conduct the training on a pro-bono basis and provide relevant materials, while UNDP manages the project, leads the coordination with relevant government authorities, and support logistical arrangements for the workshops.“UNDP considers GARD to be a strategic component of SLCDMP and as such the planned training programme is a valuable and timely contribution to strengthening disaster management in Sri Lanka,” said Subinay Nandy, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.
Dhammika Wijesuriya, Airport Safety Manager, Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA), said, “We are acutely aware of the significance of this training for Sri Lanka as it marks the 10th anniversary of the devastating 2004 Tsunami later this month. Disaster risk management has been a strong focus among key stakeholders of this community and a workshop of this nature offers an ideal foundation for us to boost disaster response capacity and devise practical contingency plans at BIA, Sri Lanka’s main airport.”