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DHL, UN prepare Armenian airports for disaster

By control on October 7, 2013

Deutsche Post DHL is taking its Get Airports Ready for Disaster (GARD) program to Zvartnots International Airport in Yerevan, Armenia, and Gyumri Regional Airport in the northwestern part of the country.

The training, which takes place Monday to Thursday, prepares airport personnel and infrastructure for the logistical challenges that accompany natural disasters.

Twenty-five years ago, Armenia was hit by a devastating earthquake that left 25,000 people dead. One of the 60 most disaster-prone countries in the world, Armenia faces a heightened risk of natural catastrophes, including earthquakes, drought and flooding.

“Again and again, we have experienced that natural disasters pose special challenges for logistics in particular and require a fast support,” said Christof Ehrhart, director of corporate communications and responsibility at Deutsche Post DHL. “Our GARD initiative is designed to provide our logistics know-how to local experts in a timely fashion and thus make the work following a natural disaster easier.”

This is the 22nd airport to undergo GARD training. The program was created in 2009 by DHL and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“Lessons from the devastating earthquake in 1988 forced national authorities to reconsider their response to natural disasters. For almost a decade, UNDP has been supporting national counterparts to increase awareness, to promote disaster preparedness and risk reduction, to establish the concept of national disaster management, as well as to change institutional, legal and regulatory frameworks,” Claire Medina, UNDP deputy resident representative in Armenia, said. “Substantial progress has been made – a National Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy and Action Plan have been developed and a National Platform was officially adopted by the government.”

As part of the program, airport staff and representatives of local agencies and government authorities will assess the local site and develop customized and detailed emergency response plans.